Originally from Philadelphia, Andrew Weil is an internationally famous proponent of alternative medicine and holistic health. He was always intrigued by plants and attended Harvard University where he majored in biology with a concentration on ethnobotany. He became especially interested in studying psychoactive drugs, which almost resulted in having his medical degree withheld. He founded the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in 1994 and he still directs it. He is also currently a professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Weil has written several best-selling books on health and sometimes writes for Time magazine. He also blogs for The Huffington Post. Weil is sometimes criticized for promoting ideas that have not been verified by science.
Andrew Weil’s Diet
Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet was designed to increase energy and longevity while decreasing your chances of serious illness, including heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Many people lose weight on it as well. Carbs make up about half of the calories on this diet, but need to be in the form of beans, starchy vegetables like squash and sweet potatoes, and whole grains such as oatmeal and brown rice. Healthy fats in the form of avocados, nuts, fortified eggs and hemp seeds comprise 30% of the diet. Protein makes up the final 20-30%. Animal protein is limited and the preferred sources are fish, yogurt and some cheeses. Instead of meat, you can load up on beans, soy, and protein-rich vegetables. Aim for 40 grams of fiber per day. Weil recommends including carbs, fats and proteins at each meal. Drink filtered or purified water. A glass or 2 of red wine is okay; tea is preferred over coffee.
- Medium Protein 30% 30%
- Medium Fat 30% 30%
- Medium-High Carb 50% 50%
Variety Is The Spice
Weil recommends eating a rainbow of fruits, vegetables and mushrooms, and lots of them.
Eat as much whole, fresh, organic food as you can.
Pitch The Chips
And the packaged cookies and anything with high-fructose corn syrup. Anything with partially hydrogenated oil is also a no-no.
Weil recommends dark chocolate (70% or above) to tame your sweet tooth.
What to Eat
Whole Wheat Bread
What to Avoid
High Fructose Corn syrup
Weil on Junk Food
‘Get people back in the kitchen and combat the trend toward processed food and fast food.’
Weil on Junk Food, Take II
‘The best way to detoxify is to stop putting toxic things into the body[…]’
Weil on Junk Food, Take III
‘The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight and well-being.’
Weil on Calcium
‘Most American diets, even bad ones, provide more than enough calcium for bone health, especially for men.’
Andrew Weil’s Fitness Routine
Weil’s Five Pillars of Health
Eat right. Exercise. Neutralize stress. Spend quality time with loved ones. Find a purpose in your life to feel fulfilled. Doing these things will help you achieve optimum health.
Sweat Your Way To Better Health
Weil says aerobic exercise is necessary for strength, stamina and overall wellbeing. By increasing blood flow to the organs, they work more efficiently. Exercise also strengthens the immune system.
Don’t have time to exercise? A high-intensity workout as short as four minutes can do as much for you as a much lengthier routine. Research shows that short bursts (HIIT) offer the same benefits as long ones, and can be even more effective at burning fat.
A Few Andrew Weil Breathing Techniques
Weil says proper breathing is the single most important thing you can do for your health.
The Stimulating Breath (Bellows Breath)
This breathing exercise is developed from a yogic technique. Its aim is to raise energy and increase alertness.
Inhale & exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth relaxed but closed. Your inhalations and exhalations should be of equal duration. (It’ll make noise.) Aim for 3 inhale/exhales per second. Do for no more than 15 seconds on your first attempt. Breathe normally between sets. Increase by about 5 seconds each time, working your way up to 1 minute. Do this exercise next time you need an energy boost.
The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise (Relaxing Breath)
This exercise can be done anywhere and takes very little time. It can be performed in any position, but sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Put your tongue against the ridge behind your front teeth and keep it there. You will exhale through the mouth. Purse your lips if it feels awkward.
1. Exhale completely through the mouth, making a ‘whooshing’ sound.
2. Inhale through the nose for a count of 4.
3. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
4. Exhale completely through the mouth for a count of 8.
Repeat sequence for a total of 4 breaths. This exercise has a tranquilizing effect on the central nervous system. Do it at least twice a day. After a month of practice with 4 breath cycles, you can increase it to 8 cycles if you wish.
Deceptively simple, this technique is used in Zen meditation. Sit comfortably with the spine straight and the head inclined slightly forward. Let the breath come naturally, which will include variations in depth and speed.
1. To begin, count ‘one’ to yourself as you exhale.
2. One the next exhale, count ‘two,’ and so on, up to ‘five.’
3. Begin a new cycle, counting ‘one’ on the exhalation.
Never count higher than 5. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself counting higher, such as to 12, or even 20. Try to do this exercise for 10 minutes.
Weil on Exercise & Depression
‘Human bodies are designed for regular physical activity. The sedentary nature of much of modern life probably plays a significant role in the epidemic incidence of depression today.’
Weil on Integrated Exercise
‘I am a particular fan of integrative exercise — that is, exercise that occurs in the course of doing some productive activity, such as gardening, bicycling to work, doing home improvement projects, and so on.’
Weil on Exercise & Depression, Take II
‘Many exercise forms — aerobic, yoga, weights, walking and more — have been shown to benefit mood.’
Weil on Sickness
‘You can’t afford to get sick and you can’t depend on the present health care system to keep you well. It’s up to you to protect and maintain your body’s innate capacity for health and healing by making the right choice in how you live.’
Weil on Health
‘Health is wholeness — wholeness in its most profound sense, with nothing left out and everything in just the right order to manifest the mystery of balance.’
Weil on Health, take II
‘Most disease is lifestyle-related and preventable.’
Weil on Personalizing a Fitness Routine
‘Pay attention to your body. The point is everybody is different. You have to figure out what works for you.’
Andrew Weil’s Supplements
Weil recommends a daily supplement of vitamins& for their anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects. Take them with your largest meal.
Selenium is an antioxidizing mineral that supports immune and thyroid function, and may lower your risk of certain cancers.
If you do not eat seafood regularly, a supplement ofcan provide the heart and brain-protecting EPA and DHA. Look for a supplement that is certified free of heavy metals and other contaminants.
(or CoQ10) is an antioxidant that promotes a healthy heart. It may also help slow the development of Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, as well as other life-threatening diseases including cancer. Take with meals.
is another anti-inflammatory you can supplement with if you do not use it in your cooking.
Andrew Weil’s Lifestyle
Exercise Your Way to Better Sleep
Weil says that studies show that physically active people get better sleep than those who are sedentary.
Worldly Wandering & Wondering
Fresh out of high school, Weil won a scholarship to spend a year traveling abroad. He visited India, Thailand and Greece, and decided America needed to be more open to other ideas about science and culture.
Weil says that practicing mindful breathing on a regular basis can both calm and energize, as well as help with stress-related disorders like panic attacks and digestive problems.
The Giving Tree
Weil says that we have co-evolved with plants over millions of years, and so it seems self-evident that we absorb the necessary beneficial compounds from plants.
Healing Is Not The Same As Treatment
Weil says it’s important to remember that treatment comes from the outside while healing happens within.
Weil on his Best Health Tip
‘If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.’
Weil on Healthcare in the US
‘I have argued for years that we do not have a health care system in America. We have a disease-management system[…]’
Weil on the Ability to Learn How to Be Kind
‘Among other things, neuroplasticity means that emotions such as happiness and compassion can be cultivated in much the same way that a person can learn through repetition to play golf and basketball[…]’
Weil on Achieving Happiness
‘Happiness is a skill. It requires effort and time.’