Hopefully, years from now, Eating Well for Optimum Health
will be looked upon as the book that saved the health of millions of Americans and transformed the way we eat--not as the book we overlooked at our own peril. It clarifies the mishmash of conflicting news, research, hype, and hearsay regarding diet, nutrition, and supplementation, and further establishes the judicious Dr. Weil, the director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, as a savior of public well-being. If you've ever wondered what "partially hydrogenated soybean oil" really is, been perplexed by contrary news reports about recommended dosages for supplements, or questioned the safety of using aluminum pots for cooking, Dr. Weil will make it all clear.
Weil (pronounced "while") bravely criticizes many of the major diet books on the market, and backs up his admonitions with science. He warns readers to not fall under "the spell" of the anticarbohydrate Atkins Diet, but also criticizes the eating plan advocated by Dr. Dean Ornish--which has been granted Medicare coverage for cardiac patients--as being too low fat for the majority of people. (The omega-3 fatty acids missing from Ornish's diet are essential for hormone production and the control of inflammation, he says.) It's also fascinating to learn that autism, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease may be caused by omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies, while an excess of omega-6 fatty acids--very common in the typical American diet--can exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Weil's explanation of the chemistry of fats will prove difficult for most readers, but few will want to eat fast-food French fries ever again after reading his appalling reasons for avoiding them, which go way beyond their well-documented heart-clogging capabilities.
After a thorough rundown of nutritional basics and a primer of micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals, Weil unveils what he feels is "the best diet in the world," with 85 recipes, such as Salmon Cakes and Oven-Fried Potatoes, that are healthy, tasty, quick to prepare, and complete with nutritional breakdowns. He includes a stirring chapter on safe weight loss (he sympathizes with the overweight and comically recalls his one-week trial of a safflower oil-diet while an undergraduate). Other, equally enlightening sections include tips for eating out and shopping for food (with warnings on various additives and a guide to organics), and a wondrous appendix with dietary recommendations for dozens of health concerns, including allergies, asthma, cancer prevention, mood disorders, and pregnancy. Eating Well is an indispensable consumer reference and one not afraid to lambaste the diet industry and empower the public with information about which the majority of doctors--to the detriment of the public health--are ignorant. --Erica Jorgensen
From Publishers Weekly
Now considered one of holistic medicine's most authoritative voices, Weil (Spontaneous Healing; 8 Weeks to Optimum Health) provides a common-sense approach to healthy eating. While much of this information can be found in other volumes, Weil illuminates the often confusing and conflicting ideas circulating about good nutrition, addressing specific health issues and offering nutritional guidance to help heal and prevent major illnesses. Of particular value is his examination of recent fads, such as low-carbohydrate, vegan and "Asian" diets, with an eye toward debunking the myths about them while highlighting their valuable aspects. Readers will appreciate the brief stories of individuals who have made big changes in their eating habits and solved chronic health problems, as well as recipes for foods that Weil feels will satisfy nutritional needs and the taste buds. Although not the first to link the rise of cancer, heart disease and obesity with the now-prevalent consumption of fast food and processed foods that contain a lot of sugar and few, if any, micronutrients, Weil's articulate plea to reflect on the consequences is convincing. Despite Weil's emphasis on a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed foods and much less meat and dairy products than most Americans are used to, readers will notice a profoundly realistic observation of what changes they can readily incorporate into their busy lives. And they will be heartened to learn that they can eat nutritious foods and still get much pleasure from them. (Mar.)
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