Posted On: 04/27/2000
Hippocrates said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." Not a bad idea considering most of what we need to survive is (so far) found on our very own planet. We've-um-amended that notion in the last few centuries with the advent of technology, chemistry and genetically modified food, but it looks like we are about to begin our journey back toward those ancient Greek principles.
Scientific research of the past quarter of the century has revealed that at least five servings of fruits and vegetables will keep you healthy. Eureka! A breakthrough - not!! You see, it's common sense borne out of the knowledge of the physiology of food and its effect on the body. Fruits and vegetables contain copious amounts of vitamins and minerals and fiber that will keep you lean and mean and healthy. When you're sick, everybody tells you to drink lots of liquids, especially orange juice, and to down vats of homemade chicken soup. For the most part that is excellent advice. Chicken soup actually breaks down and increases the release of mucous from your system - a very good thing and one of the reasons Kleenex stays in business. While oranges are still good for you, research has shown that the kiwi contains the highest amount of vitamin C found in any fruit - nearly twice that of an orange - plus it has significant amounts of magnesium. This gets even more interesting because kiwi, as well as papaya and apricots, have been shown to outrank both bananas and oranges as the top high-potassium fruits.
Just look at it this way, if you eat well all the time, you are going to most likely significantly reduce your health risks on all levels - from the annoying common cold to the downright insufferable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Plus, maintaining your weight will become an even easier endeavor.
Flush that Slim Fast down the toilet right away and leave the powdered food for the astronauts!
On the cusp of such innovative and accurate research is Integrative Medicine (combining the best elements of traditional and non-traditional medical practices) pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil who has just come out with a new book entitled Eating Well for Optimum Health. His philosophy is predicated on the concept of diet as an approach to understanding and maintaining one's health. Don't be afraid. He is not preaching a diet of plain steamed fish and tasteless vegetable things. No, no, no! Dr. Weil is completely against sacrificing the pleasure of eating for the sake of health - how can you not love this guy?
I spoke with him briefly in the midst of his whirlwind book tour. He is an incredibly well spoken and affable man, who is totally committed to putting healthy eating and healthy living information into the hands of the public. Dr. Weil doesn't insist on immediate and sweeping changes because he knows that's impossible. "Any movement towards change is good, " he says and the easiest way to begin is to "eat less fast food as well as refined and processed foods like pretzels, crackers and cookies. Eat more fruits and vegetables and definitely include olive oil into your diet, and no fluffy white things!" Fluffy white things constitutes bread. Especially bread made from white flour and white sugar.
Dr. Weil perked up even more than his initial gregariousness when I asked him what he had eaten that day. "I've been on the road all day, but I started with a bagel with smoked salmon, capers and onion (no cream cheese) and some English Breakfast tea. I snacked on some raw cashews and crystallized ginger that I had with me. Then I boarded a flight in which I was seated in first class. For lunch the other passengers around me received some Caesar Salady thing that looked pretty good. Someone ordered me a vegetarian lunch and they placed before me a mound of cold cooked lentils that were tasteless, steamed and flavorless broccoli florets and some cooked corn thing, plus a white roll with margarine. I had to beg the flight attendant for some salad dressing to make it taste at all!" This is exactly what Dr. Weil is fighting against: the misconception surrounding eating well. "Healthy food can be and is delicious - the total opposite of the food I had on the airplane."
His book is fabulous and easy to read, follow and understand, filled with meal plans and quick and delicious recipes. He presents well documented scientific research that is primarily grounded in a paradigm of balance and moderation. A little meat is fine once in a while, butter also. Food is made to be enjoyed while concurrently providing the body with fuel to keep it functioning and healthy at the most optimum levels.
Dr. Weil is coming to St. Louis on Thursday March 23rd at 7:00 pm at The First Unitarian Church to promote Eating Well for Optimum Health courtesy of Left Bank Books. Do yourself a favor - go listen to the good doctor. Bring everyone you know to listen and buy the book, buy extra copies of it and give it to the people you love (or at least would like hanging around a lot longer). He is an incredible speaker with a comprehensive knowledge of both traditional and non-traditional approaches to health and diet. Besides, he too is a true foodie and will lead you on that path of good health and good eating that Hippocrates paved for us centuries ago.
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