Dr. Andrew Weil, who graces the cover of Time this week, has a new book out about aging that includes, of
course, a wellness diet. According to the accompanying article it looks to me to be pretty much the same
diet he has always advocated. I thought it would be worthwhile to consider a couple of the basics.
On a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, adult women should eat about 160g to 200g of carbohydrates daily.
So, according to Dr. Weil, women should add somewhere from 3/4 to a full cup of sugar per day to the one
teaspoon they have circulating in their blood.
Adult men should eat about 240g to 300g of carbohydrates a day.
I guess this means that men should add between a cup and a quarter to a cup and a half of sugar to their
Dr. Weil goes on to point out that...
"Most of this [carbohydrate] should be in the form of less refined, less processed foods."
He falls into the trap of thinking that somehow all this carbohydrate won?t be converted to sugar because
it is "complex." Complex carbohydrates are not absorbed. Enzymes in the GI tract break them down into simple
sugars that are absorbed, so any carbohydrate that makes its way to the small intestine is going to be
absorbed as a sugar. One cup of complex carbohydrate goes into the blood as one cup of sugar, and since
the body likes to keep about a teaspoon of sugar in the blood, this extra cup (or more) has to be dealt
with metabolically by an enormous outpouring of insulin. All this insulin doesn?t just lower the sugar
level of the blood; it does a lot of other things such as driving fat into the fat cells, causing the
kidney to retain sodium, stimulating the production of VLDL in the liver, and a host of other things one
would rather not have happen.
Dr. Weil is a big, cuddly bear of a guy who has somehow gained preeminence as America's physician who can
be trusted to tell it like it is. I'm sure he will now be making the talk-show circuit dispensing his
particular brand of idiocy to the American public, who will, no doubt, go out and go face down in the
carbs. And the obesity epidemic will continue on.
The media's unquestioning acceptance of Dr. Weil's dietary philosophy is an example of
if you tell people something they already believe they will never question it. I can guarantee you that if
I went on all the same talk shows, I would get challenged in a way he never will. Many of the shows would
have "experts" present to disagree with everything I might say; Dr. Weil will have no such "experts" to
It's not like Dr. Weil is an expert on anything, much less nutrition. In a 1997 interview in Playboy he
made some statements that were absolutely breathtaking in their stupidity.
"The love of beef is dangerous. Of all the animal foods, beef is probably the least healthy. It's the
essence of the worst of the American diet. The fat in meat is the worst fat for hearts and arteries."
The main fat in beef is stearic acid, which has been shown in multiple studies to be a saturated fat
that actually lowers cholesterol, and, therefore, if one believes in the lipid hypothesis, as Dr. Weil
certainly does, would be a fat that is good for hearts and arteries. Stearic acid is the one saturated
fat that even the zealous anti-saturated fat people don?t have a problem with.
Here is my favorite:
"In addition, cows are big animals at the top of the food chain, so they are likely to concentrate all
the environmental toxins..."
Cows are at the top of the food chain because they're big? What does it mean to be at the top of the
food chain? Animals at the top of the food chain are those that eat other animals lower on the food
chain that themselves eat animals still lower. What do cows eat? They eat grass. Cows, irrespective
of their size, are on the bottom of the food chain, not the top.
Since Dr. Weil avoids animals at the top of the food chain, what does he eat?
"I began eating fish about ten years ago, but that's all. I don?t eat red meat or chicken or eggs."
Hmmm, fish, eh? Large fish, the kind one usually eats when one eats fish, are at the top of the food
chain. Remember all the pictures of a big fish eating a smaller fish eating a smaller fish? Fish indeed
do concentrate toxins, and do so to the point that even the government warns pregnant women not to eat
too much tuna so as not to take in too much mercury and other contaminants. So, Dr. Weil avoids beef in
an effort not to eat anything at the top of the food chain and eats fish instead.
And, finally, Dr. Weil in a burst of sanctimonious holier than thou-ness says...
"I have never eaten a McDonald?s hamburger. I think I am one of the few Americans who can say that."
He then goes on to add...
"However, I have, when on the road, gone into a McDonald's to get a Coca Cola."
Yessiree Bob, let's avoid that hamburger, but get us a quarter of a cup of good ol' high-fructose
corn syrup and brag about it.
All I can say is that if you eat like Dr. Weil, you'll look like the portly Dr. Weil. Take a look
at his pictures in Time.
Michael R. Eades, MD