A Thumbs Down Book Review
8 Weeks to Optimal Health
By Andrew Weil, MD
Review by Sally Fallon
This bestselling book is typical of many that offer much in the way of good advice–from getting rid of processed foods to deep breathing–but which perpetrate gross dietary errors. Weil is mostly pro-vegetarian and pro-soy foods; and against animal fat and protein.
He discusses two groups of physicians: One is the large and influential school of medical thought that recommends avoiding saturated fat; and the other is the splinter group that questions the “lipid hypotheses,” namely that saturated fats and cholesterol cause heart disease. Weil says he is willing to consider the arguments of the splinter group but in the rest of the book he sides squarely with the lowfat camp, advising readers to “keep saturated fat intake as low as possible.” He warns against rancidity, but lumps saturates and polyunsaturates together as equally bad. To avoid coronary heart disease, he advises reducing animal protein as much as possible and recommends only salmon and olive oil as sources of fat, although the actual recipes call for canola oil, not olive oil. (He does say it should be cold pressed.) It is difficult to imagine that optimum health can be achieved with such a limited diet.
The most serious flaw of the book is the diet for children, which is basically lowfat vegetarian. Although he recognizes that soy is an allergin if introduced too early, he lists a “healthy dessert” made with banana and tofu. Children can indeed benefit from plenty of fresh air, exercise, vegetables and a home that is free from environmental toxins, as Dr. Weil advises, but they will not grow up healthy on the lowfat diet he recommends.