Dr. Andrew Weil's top tips for health
Dr. Andrew Weil tells CNN's Kelley Colihan that he got very little nutritional training in medical school.
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VAIL, Arizona (CNN) -- Dr. Andrew Weil estimates he received only 30 minutes of nutritional training when he was in medical school. Since then, for decades, he's studied alternative or complementary medicine around the world.
CNN producer Kelley Colihan caught up with Weil at his ranch in Vail, Arizona, where he showed her his winter garden and sat down in the meditation room for a few questions.
Weil, director of the University of Arizona's Integrated Medicine program, offered these tips for staying healthy at any age:
"Fresh fruits and vegetables are our main sources of protective phytonutrients -- these are compounds in plants that help our bodies' defenses and reduce our risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases."
"You want to try to eat across the color spectrum every day. You really want to think about where did you get your purple thing today and where did get your red thing. The more colors you have in your diet on a regular basis, the more healthy you are."
"I'm all for getting your vitamins and minerals from foods, but in order to do that you will have to be eating an optimal diet every day and most of us don't do that.
I have my garden, I shop wisely and I love fruits and vegetables and some days I travel and I don't eat the requisite number of fruits and vegetables. I take a multivitamin as insurance. Women may want to take some additional calcium. But that is the basis: a good multivitamin, mineral supplement.
"Women can't just suddenly wake up at age 50 and say 'I better start worrying about my bones and take calcium.'
Your bone health is determined by how you've lived, mostly up to your mid-30s -- that's when you build bone. So that means eating right as a teenager in your 20s and early 30s, getting enough calcium then getting enough vitamin D, which helps your body use calcium, and getting exercise to help build strong muscles and bones."
"There is a great deal of evidence that diet influences prostate cancer. In general, diets that are high in animal foods, high in fat, deficient in fruits and vegetables, lower in omega-3's, favor the development of prostate cancer. For men it's the familiar advice -- more fruits and vegetables, probably specifically cooked tomatoes -- which are a source of lycopene, a protective carotenoid. More soy foods. less meat, more omega-3 fatty acids. Making sure you are getting adequate antioxidants -- I think that is all highly protective.
"The best dietary advice for hypertension is avoid eating or reduce consumption of processed or refined foods, which are often high in sodium, and to eat more fruits and vegetables, which are high in potassium, which has an opposite relaxant effect on blood vessels. Calcium and magnesium can also help lower blood pressure somewhat. You could take that in supplement form as a neurovascular relaxant."
"New research shows that this has a key role in cancer prevention, lung, colon breast, prostate and this is the vitamin that we make from exposure to sunlight -- but most people aren't getting it now because of sunscreens that block vitamin D. Although it's added to foods the form of vitamin D, that is in foods is not easily available to the body, so I think taking supplemental vitamin D in higher amounts than we've been told to take is a really important step in long-term health.
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