on May 4, 2004
This is an excellent book as many other reviewers have noted but please be aware of the following:
1)It is not a "diet" book in the sense of magical ways to lose weight
2)It is not a book on "fitness" nutrition for people who want huge muscles and low body fat.
3)Health in the sense of the absence of disease, the optimum functioning of the organs of the body and a long-life has much more to do with body chemistry, blood pressure, cholersterol levels, the condition of your coronary arteries, the presence or absence of free-radical damage, etc than it does with the amount of lean muscle mass that sits on your frame or whether or not your body looks good in a bathing suit.
I make these points because many people complain the Dr. Weil doesn't look like John Bastow or the author of "Body for Life" so what can he know about "health". Get a clue!! While regular moderate exercize is related to longevity there is NO evidence that "Body for Life" types are healthier the way it really counts just because they have better looking bodies than Dr. Weill. Which do you think is healthier: a lean muscular body combined with high blood pressure, clogged arteries and a colon lined with intestinal polyps? or a body that looks pudgy in a bathing suit but with low BP, low cholesterol, clean arteries and an otherwise clean internal bill of health?
This book is about eating well for health and it is excellent. One of things I like most is that there is nothing "flaky" about it. Weill reviews what we know about nutrition from solid scientific research and is always clear to distinguish that from his own opinion about nutritional matters that may not be fully supported by current research.
Buy it and live longer.
on April 30, 2004
This is the first time I have read any of Dr. Weil's books and I found this one full of new and useful information that I took to heart.
Some good points Dr. Weil made were quite interesting For example he mentions that in the 1950's, scientests thought vegtable oils were healthy and they lowered the risk of a heart attack. This turned out to be false but to this day many foods still contain high amounts of this substance leading to more calories in peoples diets and more weight gain.
Another point that Dr. Weil makes is that it is not the toatal amout of fat that we have in our diets but which foods contain more of saturated fats instead.
Then he makes the point that the idea a of a balanced diet is in consistant due to the vast amout of complex foods. Because he says the best way to get good advice for a healthy diet is to ask a professional or read books not from most doctors or nureses. The reason why is that people particulary doctors get this thought is because of the poor or lack of nutritional education in America.
For people who are looking for new ideas on how to diet this book is one of the best options for both finding out which are the best and the worst diets in the world. Also for various recepies with less fats and chemecals.
on April 27, 2004
Eating Well For Optimum Health
Review by: Kehaulani Marciel
Eating well for optimum health is the concern of many Americans in today's society. The book written by author Andrew Weil is an outstanding book for obtaining optimum health. Dr. Weil draws out how exactly our body works and what our body needs to perform at its peak. Throughout the book you will learn how to improve your health, dietary advice for chronic ailments, as well as recipes to help you reach your optimum health.
Proteins, fats, micronutrients, and carbohydrates are all necessities of life. These are the three basics of human nutrition, which help us to obtain a healthy lifestyle. Yet, eating these things in large or uneven amounts can be very unhealthy likewise. It is important that we get proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in our diets because our body uses them and breaks them down and produces glucose, maltose, disaccharide, lactose and many other components that the body needs to maintain optimum health.
Dr. Weil lists the "Worst" and the "Best" diets that have been studied through many people's eating habits. He continues to pinpoint the benefits as well as the downfalls of each diet. He compares the United States to other countries and explains how and why that particular country is so much healthier. We see that here in America, we are constantly eating fast foods and grabbing a quick snack on the way out. In Asian countries, food selection is much different resulting in healthier life styles. When dining out, Americans often load up on bread and dive into oily and fattening dinner platters which offer a beautiful display. If we were to substitute our gourmet dinners for something a bit healthier, America would not be the top country for obesity.
Eating healthy does not only help you to look better, it helps you to feel better. Studies have shown that people, who consume fast foods, candies, sodas, as well as red meats, are more likely to not only have an obesity problem, but have health problems as well. Japan contained the healthiest people until recently. The average age for men was 77.2 while the women averaged 84.1 years. According to the traditional Japanese diet, there is a correlation with very low rates of coronary heart disease and hormonally driven cancers. Their foods are also prepared at an unusually low percentage of total calories from fat. It is obvious that in some parts of the world, traditional diets are no doubt better than those of today. If we Americans were to eat like our distant hunter-gatherer ancestors, most of our health problems including obesity and cardiovascular disease would disappear. This diet consists of no processed food and little to no carbohydrates. They ate meat from wild game, fish, wild fruits, nuts and tubers. They had no salt or vegetable oils, which made their foods a lot healthier than today's meals.
Through reading this book, you learn not only how to change your bad eating habits, but how to shop for them and order them as well. Dr. Weil shares a number of healing and inspirational stories of how people have changed their lives for the better. With just a slight modification of ones diet, we see a great improvement not only in appearance, but in long-term health as well. With the helpful and abundant recipes provided by Dr. Weil himself there is no reason to delay "Eating Well For Optimum Health."
on June 11, 2003
This is a great book. The author shares how the Western medical profession gets virtually no training in nutrition, and what a huge gap in medical knowledge this represents. By reading this book, you will know far more on nutrition than any doctor who has not made a personal effort to educate himself on this topic. The author states that studying this book is like taking a college level class in biochemistry. And, it is true. Because the material is presented in such a fun anecdotal style, you don't even realize you are learning rather dry technical stuff. He covers all the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, fats), and micronutrients (vitamins, and minerals) in scientific details. He explains how these interact with each other and our own metabolism to provide the necessary healthy fuel we need.
He goes on describing the worst diet in the World. Some of us may be horrified, as it describes a very average American diet that some of us have to eat (otherwise it would not be the average American diet). This includes plenty of very convenient, tasty, processed foods that have their share of saturated fats, partially hydrogenated oils, and few nutritive calories of any kind. In any case, this is a pretty healthy wake up call for some of us. The author indicates what this diet leads to if maintained over a life time. This includes a far greater incidence of cardiovascular diseases and greater risk of numerous cancers.
The author also covers what are the various diets that could qualify as the best in the World. There is no great surprise there. Such diets are rich in fresh produce (fruits and vegetables), avoid most processed foods, sugar, excessive salt, and saturated fats. They can run from Asian to Mediterranean style(s) with a wide variety in between. So, there are plenty of healthy and delicious ways to eat.
on April 25, 2003
Eating well for optimum health by Dr. Andrew Weil is a great book that offers very informative information about health, nutrition, and the food that we eat. The food we eat is the most essential part of a healthy life, and without food, we would not be alive. The book explains very clearly the benefits that foods can have on a persons health. From fats, carbohydrates, and proteins which are the most essential elements of the calories that we intake on an everyday basis to the micronutrients and vitamins that are also taken in, it offers a complete overview of the benefits all the elements of food have on our health. His beliefs about certain diets which he considers the worst diets and the diets that he considers the best diets( the paleolithic diet, the raw foods diet, the vegan diets, etc.) are very interesting. He also offers very good information about common low-fat and low-carb diets that are very common. It is very informative because a lot of people do not really know the effects that these diets will have in the longrun and how they really effect your health. He offers a very interesting perspective in the beginning of the book about how food is essential to society because what a person eats is quite representative of the person, and how food effects our cultural and social wellbeing. He offers ways to eat that people can like and also benefit from. It shows that you can eat something healthy that does not taste bad. This is shown through his recipes towards the end of the book. There are very appetizing recipes such as the mediterranean tuna steaks, salmon cakes, and the frozen banana pie which all sound delicious. Eating well for optimum health is a great book that could benefit the reader and those around the reader with eating well and becoming healthy or staying healthy.
on April 25, 2003
Eating well for optimum health provides a very complete overview of eating, nutrition, and how it should be done according to Dr.Andrew Weil. In the book, he explains all of the essentials that compose a life of healthy eating. From fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, which are the essential elements that provide the calories needed for an essential human diet. The sections that are devoted to diets are quite interesting, because Dr.Weil addresses the problems with diets such as the low-carb and low-fat diets, which could cause problems in the longrun. He offers the worst diets in his opinion, which are supported by very legitimate facts and also the best diets in his opinion, which are also supported by very legitimate facts. The beginning of the book is quite informative as to how eating and what a person eats affects their physical and emotional well-being. How the food we eat defines our identities and how food is also essential to our social situation. Eating is presented as the most essential factor in a person's life, and without it, we would not be alive. Although I do not agree with a few of the ideas presented in the book, the majority of the ideas are very agreeable and quite informative. The recipes that he gives towards the end of the book are quite appetizing, such as the mediterranean tuna steaks, salmon cakes, and tart cherry - apple crunch. These recipes list the nutritional facts and are healthier alternatives to foods that people eat on a daily basis. It prooves that you can eat something appetizing without intaking more cholestrol and calories that are not beneficial. Eating well for optimum health is a great book to read for your own health and the health of those around you.
on February 16, 2003
The first part of this book deals with the science of human nutrition. It's well organized and very detailed. (At some points I felt I needed to take notes!) However, if the science starts to blur together, he summarizes with specific recommendations (which you can then go back and look up the reasons for if someone challenges you on it). The author addresses various diet trends, including Atkins and Ornish (he's not crazy about either, but presents a well-rounded argument) and various food pyramids, including the FDA, Vegan, and Mediterranean Food pyramid.
Finally, after talking about what everyone else does, he gives you his specific recommendation in an Appendix. Well, sort of. His opinions are pretty clear throughout the book, so the Appendix doesn't have any surprises in it. He comes out strongly in favor of organic food, and also addresses the idea that food needs to be pleasurable as well as healthy, which is refreshing.
There's also a big chunk of recipes (which I haven't tried), as well as a section that includes somewhat generalized dietary recommendations for specific ailments.
on January 15, 2003
This book is not only a great work on nutrition and heath, it's also one of those books that are written with such matery that they contain gems of shared wisdom about human nature. To illustrate, let me quote Dr. Weil from chapter 7, on page 205:
"...Mastery of that art [cooking] requires that you develop your powers of observation and the clarity of your imagination. You have to learn how to manage time, deal with unexpected developments, and not fall into states of frustration and despair when the objects of your efforts fail to develop the way you want them to. Being able to cook with other people is an ultimate test of human compatibility. In short, training in the kitchen is good preparation for life in general"
This is so true to, among other things, software development efforts.
Another quote, on the same page: "The very worst recipes are complicated and laborious and then fail to produce promised results."
This can be used, without alteration, to define, again, among other things, the worst software development methodologies: Painfully difficult to follow and if implemented at all, often fail to deliver promised benefits.
Lately I've found a few such authors: Steve McConnell in software devlopment (his Code Complete was written 10 years ago and still ranks around 1000 at Amazon.com); Christopher Alexander in architecture (his book A Pattern Language has inspired a new generation of software designers"; Peter Drucker in management (he mostly writes on business management, but even a software developer can benefit from his writing.); and of course, Dr. Andrew Weil.
on November 16, 2002
Dr. Weil's graceful and reasoned prose tends one to serenity and contemplation. What I found myself contemplating as I was reading this beautifully presented book about food was Dr. Weil himself. I recall him as the enfant terrible author of the bourgeois-shocking The Natural Mind: A New Way of Looking at Drugs and the Higher Consciousness (1972), a book that helped to persuade a generation of Americans to question the establishment's anti-drug mentality. The theme of that book, if I recall correctly, was that human beings have a natural drive to explore other states of consciousness.
Now Dr. Weil is a middle-aged man like myself, and the fires of youth have turned to...extra-virgin olive oil and tofu! Who says that wisdom does not come with age? As I absorbed Weil's ideas about how to eat properly I couldn't help but notice what has changed since the balmy days of our youth, nutritionally-speaking, and what Weil has, in his diverse travels, both on the surface of this planet and within, learned about how to eat.
He is a vegetarian who loves food. The simple, but inviting recipes on pages 209-260 attest to that. He will eat dairy products in moderation and fish, but he prefers to get his proteins from plants. He believes that refined and highly processed carbohydrate foods (those with a "high gylcemic index"; see his table on pages 56-57) can have disastrous effects on the health of many people, pointing to native Hawaiians and Native Americans as examples (p. 63). Surprisingly he doesn't see dietary fat as the bugaboo it once was as long as one limits the intake of saturated fats and returns to the shelf any product including the words "partially hydrogenated" on the label (192-193). He touts olive oil and makes a very close distinction among saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated oils, opting for a balanced intake in the ratio, respectively, of 1:2:1 (p. 262). He believes that we need to incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids from primarily fish oils, soybeans and walnuts into our diets as opposed to omega-6 oils.
New to me is Weil's contention that vegetarians need not be concerned about the notion of "complementary protein" that we learned about years ago. No longer do we have to combine vegetable foods, corn with beans, for example, to get all the necessary amino acids that our bodies need. He says that Frances Moore Lappé, who brought the concept to a large readership in the seventies with her very popular Diet for a Small Planet (1971), is mistaken and that "the body is clever enough to find missing essential amino acids...from the vast numbers of bacteria that inhabit the lower intestinal tract or from the vast numbers of cells that slough off the lining of the digestive tract every day" (p. 104). I wonder. I do know that when I eat a meal of complementary protein, say tortillas and beans, it tastes especially good, exponentially good in fact, compared to eating just one of those foods alone. Also getting essential amino acids by eating your own cells begs the question of where the essential amino acids came from in the first place. If they really come from intestinal tract bacteria in significant amounts-an intriguing and delightful concept (we farm within!)-perhaps we ought to know more about how such a system works. Does intestinal tract length matter? Are there bacteria cultures we might imbibe? (Maybe this is Weil's next book!)
I also wonder about the significance of the distinction he makes between basmati rice from India and other kinds of rice. He claims that the rice usually eaten in China and Japan is mostly amylopectin starch that is "much easier to digest" than the mostly amylose starch in basmati rice (p. 39). His point is that how fast we digest a starch affects "blood sugar levels, which, in turn, affects our energy, our tendency to gain weight, and our general health" (p. 39) He claims on the following page that "Even if you are carbohydrate sensitive, you can enjoy some white rice if you choose a lower-glycemic-index variety like basmati."
My confidence in Dr. Weil is not shaken by the inclusion as an appendix the fantastic notion that people might be able to exist without eating. ( See "Appendix D: The Possibility of Surviving Without Eating.") I am not concerned because Weil slyly makes it apparent (but only apparent) that he doubts it is possible. Still one wonders why he included something like this in first place, particularly when one of his seven basic propositions about food is "WE HAVE TO EAT TO LIVE" (his caps on page 9).
His discussion of the various cuisines and their characteristic foods is very interesting and just the sort of thing we need to focus on and appreciate. I have always thought of the Chinese and the French cuisines as monumental edifices of gastronomic art. In this book is an appreciation of the richness of Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines as well. His identification of a Mediterranean cuisine (he calls it a diet, pages 162-165) that includes Middle Eastern foods as well as Italian, Greek and others is particularly significant since that is the part of the world in which our first agriculture-based civilizations began.
In the usual Knopf style this is a beautifully edited and presented book. I didn't notice a single typo, although sweet potatoes are mistakenly identified as roots and not tubers on page 39. Bottom line: Weil is a very persuasive and readable man whose food preferences inspire confidence and imitation.
on August 24, 2002
For all the late nights pouring over boring textbooks filled with biology and chemistry data almost made me wish I came across this book sooner. I was surprised (and impressed) at how much time and research he put into his work and how well it corresponded to what I all ready have learned in medical courses. But he is right, the medical field often concentrates soley on correction and not prevention. But quite honestly, all the things I've learned in my courses compared to his book is essentially right on, no bull. Sure, there are a few debatable issues as there always are in the field of medicine but I found that he made no attempts to hide these issues. How refreshing! He doesn't pretend to know it all and gives you a mix of extensive research and his experience. He also provides you with an accurate account of how the body works.
Because of his extensive medical background, I'm actually recommending this book in an audio format. This way you are not crunching over it like a textbook trying anxiously to figure out molecular structures and getting frustrated or bored. His voice is very easy to listen to while driving and makes hectic traffic or bad days easier. Plus, if you find yourself getting lost in all the medical terms, he sums everything up in the chapter conclusions.
I found this book to be very lively and thought it well worth the money. Even though I've had extensive bio/chem/nutrition courses, there were other things I've learned from Dr. Weil that my courses just brushed over before. Give a try, I think you will find it very enlightening.