March’s Theme is Health and Weight Loss
I think the first time I came across Dr. Weil I was watching him on PBS. Since then, I have seen him on many PBS documentaries. He is pretty well known for his appearance in 2009 on a documentary called Botany of Desire. He actually explains that humans have always sought altered states of consciousness and that there are foods that he feels benefit us despite being banned. Beyond that, Dr. Weil likes to have a view of a combination of mainstream and alternative medicine. He believes the two can work together in a complimentary approach to achieve maximum benefits. He feels patients should take western medicine as prescribed by their doctors and then extend the biomedical model to incorporate alternative therapies. Dr. Weil believes very strongly in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, herbal remedies, meditation and other spiritual strategies. He is a huge proponent of nutrition, exercise and stress reduction, and like Dr. Fuhrman suggests a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables with regular consumption of fish.
When looking at Dr. Weil’s Food Pyramid, we actually see that it is closely related to Dr. Fuhrman’s but in much more detail. I kinda like Dr. Weil’s Food Pyramid because he does break it down and it seems much more comprehensive and palatable. At the base, the largest of the pyramid, we see vegetables, both raw and cooked. He makes an emphasis here to the color spectrum and stresses the importance of organic when possible. He suggests we eat vegetables at least four to five times a day, minimum. Once again we see here that vegetables should be eaten in large amounts, often unlimited. Fruits, especially those fresh in season, organic when possible, should be eaten about three to four times a day.
Dr. Weil brings in cracked grains, pasta (al dente), beans and legumes, healthy fats. These are eaten in less amounts than fruits and vegetables but are looked at as important for various health benefits. This is very similar to Dr. Fuhrman’s Pyramid. This brings up the topic of healthy fats. Over the years in the diet world, people have looked at lowering their calories, lowering their carbohydrate intake, lowering their sugars, and lowering their fats. These common methods of dieting have been done in the wrong manner. Decreasing good fats has been interpreted by the majority of dieters as meaning cutting out all fats. This is a huge mistake and a problem for our bodies. Omega-3 fats are needed and necessary to counteract the unhealthy fats that we consume. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Coconut Oil are rich in polyphenols with antioxidant activity. These are the best oils to cook with and use in our salads. Other sources of healthy fats include nuts (especially walnuts), avocados, and seeds; including hemp seeds and freshly ground flaxseed. These are all extremely healthy fats that have been eliminated in the minds of many dieters because they believe they should completely cut out fats. Even eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years with people cutting out the yolk to avoid what we thought was cholesterol-inducing-fat. Organic, expeller pressed, high-oleic sunflower or safflower oils may also be used, as well as walnut and hazelnut oils in salads and dark roasted sesame oil as a flavoring for soups and stir-fries.
Dr. Weil’s Food Pyramid stresses the importance of seafood. Wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), herring, sardines, and black cod should be eaten two-six times per week. These fish are rich in omega-3 fats, which are strongly anti-inflammatory. If you choose not to eat fish, take a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement that provides both EPA and DHA in a dose of 2-3 grams per day.
Dr. Weil is also an advocate for cooked Asian mushrooms. He stresses the importance of eating these in unlimited amounts. Shiitake, enokidake, maitake, oyster mushrooms, and wild mushrooms varieties contain compounds that enhance immune function. Never eat mushrooms raw, and minimize consumption of common commercial button mushrooms (including Crimini and Portobella). He is an advocate of specific medicinal mushrooms in your daily diet.
For other sources of protein, Dr. Weil suggests that we eat a selection of high quality natural cheeses and yogurt, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry, grass-fed lean meats. The other cool thing about his food pyramid is he suggests tea two-four cups a day. White, green, oolong teas are rich in catechins, antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation. Make sure your teas are high quality though. Dr. Weil includes the option of red wine, but no more than one to two glasses a day; and healthy sweets such as dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao. This is suggested at the very tip of his pyramid so as to be eaten sparingly. I am a dark chocolate lover, so this pyramid works for me.
This one is definitely the most progressive of pyramids. His diet pyramid is thought to counteract chronic inflammation which is at the very root and cause of many serious diseases such as, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. These are some serious diseases and conditions. Dr. Weil’s diet plan is an anti-inflammatory diet. Anyone looking to research serious diseases will find the more modern information talks about your body’s inflammation being the root-cause of such ailments. Many of us are so used to eating foods that are causing inflammation that it is our normal state to feel this inflammation. I personally have experienced doing things like cleanses and eating healthy for periods at a time and when I eat food that is unhealthy, I immediately become inflamed whether it’s my eyes, face, or hands. My body more immediately shows a cause and affect between foods that I eat, and the reaction in my body. Inflammation is a serious side affect from unhealthy eating.
We cannot forget water consumption because it is the way our bodies cleanse and hydrate. Look for my product on healthy hydration, drinking more water, coming soon. Also, being able to understand Dr. Weil’s Food Pyramid is essential to optimum health. If you have questions or want to know more about Dr. Weil, you can visit his website. If you would like to know more about the products I offer, click here. I understand that changing your eating habits is a huge undertaking, however, it is what is best for your health and well-being. Make good choices. Eat smart. Live happy.
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