Fewer allergy problems and a healthier you can be a reality in 2009, according to Dr. Andrew Weil’s book, "8 Weeks to Optimum Health," a step-by-step guide to enhance your body’s natural healing ability. Weil recommends “tending to the whole package” which includes our bodies, minds and spirits, rather than just reaching for medication to make chronic illnesses, such as allergies, more manageable.
Weil’s program reflects his belief, gleaned from years as a physician, that many common complaints respond better to simple adjustments in lifestyle than taking medication. His eight-week program leads you gradually through modifications in diet, exercise, and rest, as well as adding natural remedies, in order to solve, rather than mask, the underlying causes of health problems.
The book contains many individual testimonials to the power of the body’s natural healing ability. One individual, who wrote Weil, said she had been in and out of doctor’s offices for years to get relief from rheumatoid-like symptoms. The best doctors could offer were anti-inflammatory medications, rather than looking at changes in diet, exercise habits, vitamins, etc., that might improve her condition.
Out of desperation, she devised her own program where she eliminated dairy products, artificial sweeteners, caffeine and adopted a vegetarian diet. After five months, she wasn’t cured but she felt significant improvement in her condition.
This individual’s story illustrates what Weil is so passionate about. That human beings are “bodies, minds and spirits. That health necessarily involves all of these components and any program intended to improve health must address all of them.” The problem is conventional medicine pays almost exclusive attention to the physical aspect and neglects the others.
Take Weil’s advice and don’t neglect the other aspects of your well-being in the coming year. For the next eight weeks, try adding some of Weil’s recommendations to your regimen. Here are some to start with:
•Start by going through your pantry and refrigerator and discarding common unhealthful foods, such as all oils, margarine and shortening, except olive oil.
•Read food labels for the amount of trans fats and strive for zero of these.
•Throw out artificial sweeteners and foods with artificial coloring.
•Pay attention to the how much fat you eat each day. Ideally, you should not be consuming more than 30 percent of your daily calories in fat.
•Eat more fruits and vegetables.
•Eat wild salmon, sardines or herring one to two times per week.
•Add exercise and stretching, gradually building up over the eight-week period to five, 45-minute sessions per week.
The best treatment is the least, Weil writes, “the least invasive, least drastic, least expensive---that activates spontaneous healing.” I highly recommend you give his plan a try to improve your health in the coming year.