Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Best Bet for Optimum Nutrition?

If you had to distill your nutrition advice into one sentence, what would it be?

Answer (Published 11/1/2011)

Originally published November 1, 2011

I am happy to answer this question. My "one-line" advice is simple: avoid refined, processed and manufactured foods. I believe that consumption of these foods, which provide the wrong kinds of fat and carbohydrates, underlies the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and presents a major threat to physical and emotional health.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness for Your Healthy Body - It's the journey not the destination. Make each day count, with an outlook that is both serene and inspired. Dr. Weil's new website,, has everything you need to get on the path to optimal well-being including recipes, checklists and exclusive tools to track your walking. Learn more, start your 10-day free trial now.

We all know that fast food, junk food and the highly processed stuff that fills the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores are not good for us. Because of widespread reliance on these processed and manufactured foods, we’re not getting the vitamins, minerals and protective phytonutrients that we need for optimal health. Today’s mainstream diet is glaringly deficient in the pigments that color vegetables and fruits; the antioxidants in olive oil, tea and chocolate; the novel compounds in ginger, turmeric and other spices and herbs; and the special fats in oily fish, all of which protect our tissues and organs from inappropriate, unhealthy inflammation.

When inflammation occurs on the surface of the body, you can see it and feel it as local redness, heat, swelling and pain. It is the cornerstone of the body’s healing response, the process by which the immune system delivers more nourishment and more defensive activity to an area that is injured or under attack. However, chronic, low-level internal inflammation is now seen as the root cause of most of the common and serious diseases of aging, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s (and other degenerative diseases of the central nervous system), and cancer.

Inflammation may also be associated with depression, due to the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines, potent regulatory proteins made by immune system cells. The hypothesis linking inflammation to depression holds that pro-inflammatory cytokines control the behavioral, hormonal, and neurochemical alterations that are characteristic of the disorder. I cover this issue in detail in my book Spontaneous Happiness, which will be released November 8, 2011.

Processed and manufactured foods are overloaded with fats that promote inflammation. These include polyunsaturated vegetable oils, especially refined soybean oil, margarine and other partially hydrogenated and trans-fats, as well as fats in the meat of cows and chickens raised on unnatural grain-rich diets. These foods also give us carbohydrate mostly in the form of quick-digesting flour and sugar that raise blood sugar quickly and stimulate insulin resistance in those of us who are genetically at risk for it.

To counteract and prevent inflammation in the body I have designed an anti-inflammatory diet, using the Mediterranean diet as a template. It is the way I eat, and the way I recommend eating for optimum health. I assure you that it is not hard to eat this way and that doing so does not diminish the pleasure of eating.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here