Andrew Weil, MD
Author of Healthy Aging and Eating Well for Optimum Health
What would you tell people about nutrition if they came to you on January 1 and said they wanted to live healthier?
Weil: I'd tell them to eat more fruits and vegetables—a wide variety of them, a rainbow of colors: blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, carrots. To ensure your intake of omega-3 fats, eat more salmon, sardines, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Resolve to eat as little processed and refined food as possible, especially chips, doughnuts, and snack foods. If you did these things, your health would improve immensely. But to get there, I suggest taking small, incremental steps. You don't have to make global changes overnight. For instance, instead of eating a bagel with cream cheese every day, try some whole grain bread with a nondairy spread on it, such as hummus or a soy spread, a few mornings a week.
What is the worst myth we buy into about living healthier?
Weil: Resisting aging. That's a huge mistake. The goal is healthy aging. This means letting nature take its course while doing everything in your power to delay the onset of age-related diseases like cancer, heart problems, and Alzheimer's. Most important, age right while you're still young. Develop healthy lifestyle habits, things like not smoking, eating properly, exercising regularly, and learning methods of stress reduction, such as breathing exercises. Women in particular need to build up their bone density and muscle mass by participating in physical activity, avoiding soda and processed foods, and limiting the excessive consumption of coffee and alcohol.
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