Dr. Andrew Weil is the director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. He’s been on the cover of Time magazine, written several best selling books and was recently described as one of the twenty most influential people in America. During his visit to Okinawa I talked to him briefly about his thoughts and views on healthy living and the longevity of Okinawans.
What do you think are the major problems with the western diet?
“Too much meat and animal products in general. Too few vegetables and too few fruits, the wrong kind of fats especially too much refined vegetable oil, margarine and artificially hardened fats, and too few of the Omega-3 fats from fish. Also too much refined carbohydrates, highly processed wheat flour and in general too much processed food, not enough fresh natural food, I’d say they were the main problems.”
What can we learn from the Okinawan diet?
“Many more vegetables and a greater variety of vegetables, more legumes especially soy and other special Okinawan foods, goya and ucon.”
In your books you often mention the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, what can Okinawans learn from this?
“Using olive oil, having dairy products in the form of cheese rather than milk and more whole grains.”
What relaxation or exercise techniques do you practice and recommend?
“Breathing. Breathing techniques are simple, require little time and no equipment.”
What are the scariest examples of alternative medicine you have heard about?
“Things like intravenous hydrogen peroxide are just horrible and dangerous.”
Some scientists have said that vitamin supplements are not effective, what’s your opinion?
“Fruits and vegetables are the best source of vitamins you should eat plenty of good quality natural vegetables. Supplements can act as insurance but not as a substitute. Fresh vegetables and fruits are the best.”
What is the most common misconception about you?
“That I am trying to do away with traditional medicine. Traditional medicine is right when it’s the right thing to do.”
Can you give us one key point or piece of advice to take away?
“Lifestyle choices have a huge influence on the way we age and a lot of this is within our influence.”