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Larry King Live

Andrew Weil Discusses `Eating Well'

Aired April 5, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, this MD out of Harvard Medical School says the right food can prevent or cure just about anything wrong with you. Spend the hour with the king of alternative medicine Andrew Weil. And later, we'll be joined by one of his disciples, Naomi Judd. They're ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.

He's certainly the most famous recognized MD in the world who also is a proponent of what we call alternative medicine, bridging the gap between old and new. He's Andrew Weil. He's the author of a new book called "Eating Well for Optimum Health." It is already a runaway best seller, and there you see its cover.

This is book number what for you?


KING: Eight.

When did you -- you get out of Harvard?

WEIL: Yes.

KING: You're a doctor -- what's your specialty?

WEIL: General practice.

KING: General. You're going to be a regular doctor, right, and people come to visit you, and you say call me in the morning, and here's penicillin, right? When did you change?

WEIL: Actually, it was before I went to medical school. I was a botany major as an undergraduates, so I have a lifelong interest in medicinal plants. I was interested in mind-body interactions. Before I went to college, I started reading about alternative medicine in college. So it way predates medical school.

KING: Why did you go to medical school?

WEIL: I wanted a medical educations. I wanted a standard against which to judge other ideas. I wanted that training. I knew that degree would be useful to me, as it has been.

KING: Did you do well in school?

WEIL: I did well in school.

KING: Were you a renegade?

WEIL: I was.

KING: A rebel?

WEIL: I always questioned ideas that came. I always wanted to look at other ways of interpreting facts. So I think I've always been a maverick. I've always been independent. I've always questioned things.

KING: But you went through the full regiment, graduated, you did your intern, residency?

WEIL: I did an internship, and then I stopped, I got licensed as a general practitioner, and then I began studying other forms of healing.

KING: But you still believe that if you need surgery, you get surgery, right?

WEIL: Absolutely.

KING: You're not a discounter of...

WEIL: Not at all. I think when conventional medicine is appropriate, it's the right thing to do. And I think part of the job of people practicing in this new way is to be able to tell people when you go right to standard medicine without delay.

KING: Because there are charlatans, are there not?

WEIL: That's putting it mildly. I think when you venture outside the world of regular medicine, it's a jungle out there. There are a lot of people making claims that are unsubstantiated. There's lots of products on the market for which there's no real evidence. I think you have to be really careful.

KING: Should the FDA control health food centers?

WEIL: I don't think they should restrict consumer access to products, but I think we need desperate regulation in this area. The quality is terrible.

KING: By this, it'll cure this.

WEIL: Right. And also it's I think unreasonable to expect more physicians to recommend dietary supplements, herbs until the physicians have better confidence in the quality of the products.

KING: When did physicians start to change? I remember doctors putting down vitamins as little as 10 years ago?

WEIL: I think the really big change has come in the past two years. And I must say, even in the past year, there is movement on the part of medical schools, that really a number of influential medical schools are now are at least beginning to think about how to incorporate this material into the curriculum.

KING: What did they teach you at Harvard? When did you graduate.

WEIL: 1968.

KING: How much nutrition did you get in medical school?

WEIL: Thirty minutes?

KING: Thirty minutes? Have a little toast in the morning?

WEIL: No, they told us about special diets we could order for a patient at one hospital I worked at in Boston. And you know, the sad thing is that has not changed a whole lot since I've been out of medical school. About 20 percent of schools say they teach nutrition now, but mostly, it' biochemistry. It does not prepare physicians to answer the questions that are on people's minds.

KING: Is it true that medical school education is the hardest thing to change, the curriculum?

WEIL: Well, I think -- yes, it is very hard to change. First of all, there's too much information, and the faculty feel very constrained to prepare students to pass national board exams. So you know, I tried some years ago to get a one-hour lecture on tobacco addiction into the curriculum of the University of Arizona where I teach. It took five years to get approval for the lecture because nobody would give up an hour. They said they all had too much to teach already. If that's the response you get for putting a one-hour lecture on something so vital, what chance is there if you talk about putting a whole course on nutrition or a course on mind-body medicine.

KING: Give me a little history of this book? It claims, as I understand it, to a provide a program to improve well-being by making informed choices on what we eat. This is for prevention and...

WEIL: Both.

KING: ... treatment?

WEIL: And I think, first of all, it is a grounding in the basic facts of human nutrition, which I think people need to know because there's so much craziness out there today. There are people telling you to eat no fat. There are people telling you to eat no carbohydrates. There are people telling you to eat this amount of protein.

KING: Revolutionary diet -- there's a new one every month.

WEIL: Every month.

KING: And they all sell well. WEIL: Right. I think unless people really understand the facts of nutrition, it's hard to get through this maze. Secondly, I think this book can give you a healthier attitude toward food. I don't think it's good to look at food as the enemy or look at food as a drug to effect your hormones. You know, food is pleasure. It's the way we connect with other people. It's a way of influencing your health. And I think by understanding this material and making better choices, you'll feel better. I think you'll have more energy, you'll feel better.

KING: There are rules, are there not?

WEIL: There are rules. First of all, one is anything in moderation. You know, you can let yourself have any food once in a while. But I think there are some rules you need to know about what kinds of fat are OK and what kinds of fat are not OK. You want to know what kind of carbohydrates are better, what kind are worse, you want to know how much of these to eat. You want to know about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. What kind of diet, if you look around the world at the diets that seem good. Which ones make sense?

KING: Explain to me something. Michael Milken is a friend of mine. He's very involved in trying to find a cure for prostate cancer. He had incurable prostate cancer, inoperable.

WEIL: Yes.

KING: And went on this diet of tofu, and all of these things he eats, and he's got a PSA of zero, and apparently it looks great, and he never felt better.

Now tell me what food does to treat cancer.

WEIL: First of all, I think it's...

KING: If the cells are running wild...

WEIL: It's much more important to prevent cancer through diet than to treat it. You have a much better chance of prevention. But prostate cancer is a special case, because it's hormonally driven. There are foods you can eat that modify the body's productions of hormones. Soy has plant estrogens in it, which seem very protective, so they change the hormonal response. Japanese men get prostate cancer at much lower rates than American men, and when they do get it, it's much less aggressive. I think the major reason for that is they eat soy in almost every meal.

KING: So if you're a man, eat soy early?

WEIL: Eat soy early. Don't wait until you get cancer and then try to treat it.

KING: Then a report comes out that soy will cause you mental problems in later years. WEIL: These concerns about soy that we're seeing in our press, I think they concern soy supplements; you know, when you take isolated elements out of soy and put them available in pills, maybe you can get too much of them. But if you're sticking to whole soy foods, I don't think there's a problem.

KING: We're going to run down diseases, treatments, foods to eat. Naomi Judd will join us later. She's a disciple of Dr. Weil. We'll be taking your phone calls as well.

This is LARRY KING LIVE. Cybill Shepherd tomorrow night.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back.

By the way, concerning Elian Gonzalez, Greg Craig of Williams & Connolly, the attorney for Gonzalez' father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, is back in Washington. He's scheduled to make some statement about why the father didn't come back today and what's happening. As soon as he's ready to make it, we'll go to it.

We're talking with Dr. Andrew Weil, the author of "Eating Well for Optimum Health."

OK, one of the major problems in America, 20 million people, depression. We take Zoloft, lithium. Can you help depression with food?

WEIL: I think you can help depression with food, although I don't know that that's the major way that I would approach it. But there's very interesting research about the role of omega three fatty acids and normal brain function. These are the fat, the good fats, in fish, some in soy, in nuts, like walnuts and flax seeds. They're vital for normal brain function. And there's various research now looking at these supplement hormones as a new treatment for bipolar disorder, possibly also a treatment for depression as well.

KING: Would you say to someone take an omega three every day?

WEIL: I think I would first say eat the food sources of them. Eat more sardines, salmon, walnuts, soy products. You could also try taking the supplements as well. Most Americans are deficient in these fatty acids.

KING: What if someone says, ah, but if you have a heart problem, you can't eat a walnut. Or you can eat a walnut?

WEIL: No, you can definitely eat a walnut. Because I think, you know, this is the old model where we have looked at all fat being bad for heart disease. The new information is overwhelming, that some kinds of fat are beneficial for heart disease.

KING: How do we know what's good -- we read your book, but what's a -- give me an example of a good...

WEIL: Olive oil is a good fat, monounsaturated fat. And walnuts, being an omega three source, are an especially good one. There was just research that came out last week from Spain, showing that eating a handful of walnuts a day in combination with a Mediterranean diet had a very beneficial effect on cholesterol.

KING: Really?

WEIL: This is new information.

KING: You don't, at the same time, discount Lipitor.

WEIL: No, I mean, I think it is fine to lower cholesterol levels.

KING: Let me cut in for a second. Let's go to Washington, to Greg Craig at the offices of Williams & Connolly.

GREGORY B. CRAIG, LAWYER FOR JUAN MIGUEL GONZALEZ: My name is Gregory B. Craig from the law firm of Williams & Connolly, and I represent Mr. Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who is a citizen of Cuba and the father of Elian Gonzalez.

Yesterday, I traveled to Cuba with a colleague from my law firm, Oliver Garcia, with Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, former general-secretary of the National Council of Churches, and with Dr. Tom Facet (ph), general-secretary of the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Campbell and Dr. Facet have been involved and have been working on this problem from the very beginning.

The purpose of this trip was to consult with our client, Mr. Gonzalez, and to advise him about what he, the father, might do to achieve a prompt, orderly and fair transfer of custody from Elian's relatives in Miami. We had useful and productive discussions. I think the trip was a success.

I am pleased to report that Juan Miguel Gonzalez, his wife, and 6-month-old son will be coming to the United States. They will arrive tomorrow morning, Thursday, April 6, at 7:00 a.m. at Dulles Airport.

Juan Miguel has now been separated from his 6-year-old son for over four months. This separation occurred through no fault of his and has continued against his wishes. It is time for this reunion to go forward, and he has come here and is prepared to stay here until he has achieved that objective.

For many weeks, people have asked why the father has not come to the United States to take custody of his son. For just as many weeks, Juan Miguel has stated that he would happily travel to the United States and was fully prepared to do so if he could only be assured that when he came here, he would, in fact, be given custody of his son. On January 5th, the commissioner of internal -- of Immigration and Naturalization concluded that only Juan Miguel spoke for his son. Shortly after that, the attorney general confirmed that conclusion. Then on March 21st, just two weeks ago, United States District Court Judge Moore upheld that judgment. But it was not until Monday, April 3, that the INS issued a statement which said -- quote -- "Once Mr. Gonzalez arrives in the United States, the INS will begin transferring parole care from Lazaro Gonzalez to the boy's father" -- unquote.

We take this statement to mean, from the INS, to mean and to be an assurance that when Juan Miguel comes to the United States tomorrow, the process for transferring to him the care and the custody of his son, Elian, will immediately begin.

KING: OK, there you have it. That's Greg Craig announcing in Washington right now that the boy's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, is playing by the rules, is going to come at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning at Dulles International Airport in Washington, and the developments are supposed to be an orderly transfer. We will see what happens from there. We will tell you at the top of the hour on CNN "NEWSSTAND," more continuous coverage of this whole story.

And we'll be right back with Dr. Andrew Weil, and then later, Naomi Judd, right after these words.


KING: Again, if you joined us late, Juan Miguel Gonzalez will come to the United States tomorrow to Washington Dulles Airport. He will be accompanied by his wife and young son, who is the half brother of Elian Gonzalez, and then they'll await developments with the Department of Immigration, so we've heard from Greg Craig. More on that at the top of the hour. Complete coverage on CNN.

Our guest is Dr. Andrew Weil. Naomi Judd will join us later. And his book is "Eating Well for Optimum Health."

Let's take the number-one thing that everyone thinks about: cancer.

WEIL: Sure.

KING: There isn't only one type of cancer. There's so many cancers.

WEIL: Right.

KING: So can you do a program called "Good Idea to Prevent."

WEIL: We know that fruits and vegetables contain innumerable protective compounds that offer great help to our body's defenses against cancer. It's the carotenes pigments in carrots and other orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, and dark, leafy greens. It's sulforafane in broccoli. It's the red-and-purple pigments that are in berries and red grapes. The basic message here is you want to eat more fruits and vegetables of good quality. That's one of the best things you can do increase strength.

KING: Now if you don't do that, can you go to the health food store and buy substitutes?

WEIL: Sure you can take antioxidants, you can take carotenes.

KING: They don't hurt you, right?

WEIL: They don't hurt you. But do they reproduce all the elements of whole foods? We don't know. And there are some elements they may not. This is part of our reductionist thinking, that the part equals the whole. Sure, you can take these things as insurance. I think that's a good way to look at these dietary supplements, insurance against gaps in your diet, but not substitutes for the real thing.

KING: Is there a bad food? A food that would you say to the world, don't eat or drink this?

WEIL: Yes.

KING: What?

WEIL: Margarine, period, period.

KING: What is butter -- butter is better.

WEIL: Butter is better. Olive oil is better still, but if it's a choice between butter and margarine, butter wins hands down. When we monkey with fats, they're raised in very high temperatures and react with hydrogen gas to make them solid or semisolid, this deforms fat molecules in unhealthy ways.

And by the way, in general, with almost every category of food, whether it's carbohydrate, fat, protein, when we tamper with it, the more we process it, refine it, the more we damage its nutritional qualities and increase problems.

KING: How about that new margarine lite product that reduces cholesterol.

WEIL: I worry about that. I wonder if these stanil (ph) esters that are from pine bark -- the question is whether all you're might be doing is substituting the stanil for cholesterol, so your plaque will contains these stanil esters instead of cholesterol.

KING: Sometimes you can get so we don't know, you know -- all right, you get Dr. Atkins. His books sells tons -- Suzanne Sommers on it -- eat bacons, eat eggs, it's OK.

WEIL: You know, you go to these resort hotels for Sunday brunch, you can just spot the people on Atkins. Their plates are heaped with bacon. That's the food people go right to.

KING: Why is that good?

WEIL: You can lose weight on these diets.

KING: You can?

WEIL: Absolutely. They work as well as any crash diet. But if you go off them, you'll regain the weight, and it's not a healthy way to live long term. It's a very heavy workload for your liver kidneys to metabolize that kind of protein. You're not eating enough carbohydrate to provide glucose for the brain, which it's preferred fuel. So long term, this is not a good way to eat.

KING: Is there a -- what's a good food for allergies, asthma, things -- you know, you have bronchial conditions.

WEIL: Horse radish, mustard, wasabi.


WEIL: No. Actually, it helps liquefy the bronchial secretions. bronchitis. Those are kind of the hot things.

KING: All of these things are in your book, right?

WEIL: Yes.

KING: Good foods to eat. And after you've got somebody. After you've got the allergy or after you've got the bronchitis, go on foods on well in addition to medication.

WEIL: Absolutely.

KING: You're not saying don't take your medication.

WEIL: No, no, no, but if you follow these dietary changes, you may be able to reduce the need for medication, so you get by with lower doses. And some conditions respond just to this kind of adjustment. You know, a major one, a major culprit with bronchitis and sinus conditions is milk, cow's milk. And when people cut that out, usually have to do it two months to see marked improvement.

KING: Last time we did a whole program on arthritis.

WEIL: Yes.

KING: And there was arguments over MSM and that kind of thing. What's your thoughts on this dreaded thing?

WEIL: First of all, there are some natural anti-inflammatory foods. The main ones are ginger, very good anti-inflammatory, and tumeric, the yellow spice that's in curry and yellow mustard. In addition, the antioxidants, fruits and vegetables are very healthy, again. I think it's best to eat a lower protein diet, more vegetable protein, and food, again, is not the only way here. These omega three fatty acids.

KING: You like them, huh?

WEIL: They're great.

KING: Are they bad for anyone, anyone that should not take it?

WEIL: No. I think that most Americans are really deficient on those omegas threes...

KING: But you can't prevent arthritis, can you?

WEIL: I think you can -- you can lower the probability that you'll get it. If you've got -- if you're prone to arthritis for any reason, if you exercise right, that is not traumatic exercise -- you don't want to run. Swimming is much better. If you eat the right foods, take the right supplements, I think you can increase your chances of not getting it.

KING: In other words, you're going to be healthier if at early age you start this way?

WEIL: Absolutely. You know, we do this with our cars. It's called preventative maintenance. We'd be so much better if more people treated their bodies just as well.

KING: You would start it when? With infants?

WEIL: I would start it with children for sure. I mean, infants, sure -- I think parents can make better choices there. But the younger in age we can get this information to kids, the better. You know, we need this kind of education at all levels, all ages.

KING: You're Jewish, I am Jewish. We were both raised by Jewish mothers that said fat is better, being fat is better.

WEIL: Right. There was an earlier year in our culture in which being thin was looked at as being unhealthy. And there are cultures around the world. I think that Gypsies, Polynesians who look at ample body size as equating with prosperity, with health, we've gone to the opposite extreme now. We have this obsession with leanness. I think it's even distorted medical information. If you're not morbidly obese, we all know that when we see it, but if you're not morbidly obese and you weigh more than the tables say you should, if you keep yourself fit and healthy, that means the right kind of exercise, the right amount, the right kind, and eat the right foods, I don't think there's any difference in longevity.

KING: Back with more of Dr. Andrew Weil. We'll of course be including your phone calls, and Naomi Judd is going to join us as well. This is LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.


KING: Something I have, and I don't want it to get personal, but heart disease.

WEIL: Yes. KING: We pretty much know now, obviously...

WEIL: We know a lot. But interestingly, the concepts of heart disease are changing. Right now, there is a consensus building in medicine that the root cause is inflammation of the arteries and the cause of this inflammation may be bacterial infection. It may be the American diet, which promotes inflammation by the choices of fat. Possibly the cholesterol deposits are actually an attempt of the body to repair defects in arteries that are damaged by the inflammatory process.

KING: There are lots of theories all the time.

WEIL: Lots of theories.

KING: Do you have a good rule of thumb?

WEIL: You want to work in all areas, which means you want to improve your diet, you want to do the right kind of exercise, you don't want to let yourself get too angry. You want to eat garlic, which is a good cardiovascular tonic. You want to take antioxidants, all of this. You want to cover all of your bases in trying to prevent heart disease.

KING: How about meat? Do you cut out meat?

WEIL: I don't think you need to cut out meat, but I think most Americans eat too much meat and would do better to replace some of meat in the diet with fish and with some vegetable protein.

KING: How about something I read the other day -- cheese is bad?

WEIL: But you know, interestingly, in the Mediterranean Diet, which I think is a model for one of healthiest diets in the world, there is some cheese there. It's not huge amounts. It's cheese and yogurts. And often they're fresh cheeses or parmesan that's used in the seasoning, but it's not excluded from the diet.

KING: Nonfat milk better than whole milk?

WEIL: It's better from the point of view of butter fat, which is the most saturated fat in the diet. It's got the same amount of protein in it, and that's a problem for people with sinus conditions -- bronchitis, asthma.

KING: Caffeine -- bad or good?

WEIL: In the form of green tea, I think it's good. You know, green tea...

KING: What about the form of diet drinks or coffee?

WEIL: Not so good.

KING: Why?

WEIL: First of all, the artificial sweeteners there I think are suspect for health.

KING: Still not convinced about Nutrasweet and Sweet 'N' Low?

WEIL: Still not convinced. And also, I don't think they've helped anyone lose weight, which is people use....

KING: How could they not?

WEIL: But they don't. But in practice, you look at them, people add them to diets that are already unbalanced in other directions. Anyway, if you're going to drink caffeine, the best form to do it in is tea, and green tea is the best.

KING: What about when certain things get hot, like Q10? That's hot now, or selenium...

WEIL: You know, I think...

KING: ... things in health food store.

WEIL: I think there's no general answer to that. With co-Q10, there's a big body of medical research -- this is mainstream medicine now -- showing that it protects the heart, increases oxygen utilization.

KING: Take it every day, but I don't know why I'm taking it.

WEIL: You take it, because it's good for your heart muscle.

KING: How about Pycongenol?

WEIL: Pycongenol.

KING: Pycongenol.

WEIL: It's an antioxidant that comes from grape seeds and pine bark. It's good. Again, there's good research. Some of it's done at the University of Arizona, where I teach.

KING: Do you know you're getting it if the FDA doesn't supervise it?

WEIL: You're totally at the mercy of manufacturers, and the internal policing of the dietary supplemental industry is not good. I think the quality of many of the products on the American markets is mediocre to dismal. And I would like to see a new generation of dietary supplements that really comes up to the standards of pharmaceuticals.

KING: Is there a healthiest country in the world?

WEIL: There are healthier countries. And if you look at dietary correlations, Japan is certainly one that stands out. They have, until very recently, had the highest longevity and best health on the planet, and an interesting diet. Interestingly, for the first year, this year, Japanese health has begun to decline, obesity has begun to appear, and it's because they're switching to eating Western diets and fast food.

KING: And disease which diet cannot help at all?

WEIL: Well, I don't know that...

KING: Like, obviously diabetes. Stay away from sugar. Is there a kind of illness -- multiple sclerosis -- you couldn't help that?

WEIL: No, multiple sclerosis absolutely you can help, by changing fats, by using...

KING: Really?

WEIL: Absolutely. There's definitely dietary stuff you can do that retards inflammation, slows the autoimmune process.

I think something like Alzheimer's Disease -- I don't know of any dietary influence on that?

We'll take a break and come back. We'll include some phone calls for Dr. Weil.

In a couple of minutes, we'll be meeting Naomi Judd as well.

This is LARRY KING LIVE. The book is "Eating Well for Optimum Health."

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dr. Weil. Before we take some calls, how about mood-altering drugs?

WEIL: What -- what are you thinking?

KING: I mean, there's a wave of them, right?

WEIL: There's a wave of them. There are the legal ones and the illegal ones.

KING: The legal ones are good and the illegal ones are bad?

WEIL: Well, there are some people that would like to think that. The main legal one is alcohol, which from a medical point of view is the worst, I think, in terms of potential damage to the nervous system and liver. I think with all these -- you know, people like to alter their consciousness by using drugs. And...

KING: How about marijuana?

WEIL: I think in medical terms relevantly benign. The main -- main issue is respiratory irritation. I think in a different category from the medical harmfulness of alcohol. KING: Some people use it for help in cataracts, right?

WEIL: Well, actually, no, glaucoma. But the more interesting uses are for reducing muscle spasm in conditions like spinal cord injury.

KING: It was once legal and prescribed.

WEIL: In the last century widely used in medicine. It's got drawbacks, but it should be available.

KING: No plus to tobacco, right?

WEIL: Interestingly, there are some studies showing that tobacco reduces the risks of Parkinson's disease because of effects on brain chemistry. But I think the negatives of it far outweigh those -- any benefits.

KING: Before we take our first call, would you take Rogaine?

WEIL: No. First because I think it's minimally effective and expensive and...

KING: I ask because of the obvious.

WEIL: But maybe...

KING: For the benefit of our radio listeners, Dr. Weil is not too strong on the "up on top" department.

WEIL: No grass grows on a busy street, and I happen to like my head the way it is.

KING: You do?

WEIL: I do.

KING: San Diego, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Dr. Weil, my question is regarding migraines.

WEIL: Yes.

CALLER: I know there are foods to stay away from to help avoid migraines.

WEIL: Yes. Right.

CALLER: Are there any certain foods or supplements that will help prevent migraines?

WEIL: No, I don't think -- think so, although if you don't use any caffeine, you can use coffee as a migraine treatment. You can drink a cup of strong coffee at the first sign of a migraine, lie down in a dark room, and it'll work like magic. But it only works if you don't drink caffeine. KING: Wait. I don't follow you. You can drink coffee, which is caffeine...

WEIL: If you are addicted to caffeine, as most people are, caffeine often is a cause of migraine headaches. But if you don't use caffeine and if you're very sensitive to it, caffeine constricts blood vessels so it has the opposite effect of what happens in migraines, where blood vessels dilate.

KING: There are some effective painkillers. Vicodin is effective, right? It's a very strong...

WEIL: Well, actually we have some new pharmaceutical drugs for migraine now which I think are good, and I would certainly recommend that people try conventional approaches there.

KING: It's a very puzzling disease, is it not?

WEIL: It's puzzling. It affects more intelligent people. There's a hormonal relationship in women.

KING: And if (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my wife is smarter than me.

WEIL: Yes, yes.

KING: Osteoporosis.

WEIL: A big problem in America. It's related -- it's not something that you can start to treat at midlife. Early in life, you want to get the dietary habits that help prevent, which means not eating too much protein, not following a kind of Atkins diet, making sure you're getting adequate calcium intake, not drinking too much soda because the phosphoric acid in soda causes calcium loss, getting the right kinds of exercise.

KING: Would you give me something before we take the next call.

WEIL: Yes.

KING: Give me a good day's meal eating. Average person, he's 30 years old, he's got no known diseases, he's starting out in life. Breakfast -- what's a good breakfast for him to eat, him or her?

WEIL: Well, look, sometimes...


... for breakfast. You can have -- how about some smoked salmon and a piece of whole grain bread?

KING: That was good, smoked salmon.

WEIL: Yes.

KING: Cheerios, that good? I have Cheerios.

WEIL: Cheerios are fine. What do you put on them?

KING: Skim milk and bananas.

WEIL: Why don't you try some -- some low fat soy milk on them instead?

KING: Instead of skim milk?

WEIL: Instead of skim milk. And some fruit, some berries.

KING: Bananas are not a fruit?

WEIL: How about blueberries?

KING: Bananas are not a fruit?

WEIL: Bananas are a fruit, but they are -- they're not giving you as many protective factors as some blueberries would, which have an anti-aging effect.

KING: I can go to blueberries.

WEIL: Just a little soy milk and blueberries.

KING: Lunch -- salads.

WEIL: Salad would be terrific. How about some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on it...


WEIL: ... and whatever...

KING: Bread?

WEIL: If you're going to eat bread -- and you don't have to eat bread -- but if you are, a dark, chewy, grainy peasant bread.

KING: Pumpernickel.

WEIL: Fine. Especially if it's got some whole grains in it.

KING: Russian bread is good bread.

WEIL: Good.

KING: So bread is not the staple of life, though? We don't need it to live?

WEIL: We don't need it to live, and we especially don't need all this fluffy stuff that we've got in this country. That's what's bad.

KING: Dinner?

WEIL: How about a piece of -- you can have a piece of broiled fish if you didn't have fish for breakfast or if that's not too much. A piece of broiled fish would be nice.

KING: Chicken?

WEIL: Sure. Some broccoli, other vegetables.

KING: Skin off the chicken.

WEIL: Skin off the chicken.

KING: Baked potato.

WEIL: Baked potato would be fine as long as you don't drown it in unhealthy fat.

KING: Put mustard on it, it's good.

WEIL: Mustard would be great.

KING: OK. Any kind of desert OK?

WEIL: Well, what would you like? How about some -- how about some fruit? Some fruit sorbet.

KING: Is there any cake that's good? How about this nonfat Sara Lee? Not Sara -- Weight Watchers.

WEIL: The problem with these nonfat things is that they're often very high in the not good kinds of carbohydrates. It's the refined carbohydrates that have an impact on blood sugar. So, that may not be the best thing to have.

KING: Any sugar good.

WEIL: I think sugar in moderation is OK.

KING: You can have some jelly beans occasionally?

WEIL: That's fine. You can have your jelly beans. And actually even better, how about a piece of dark chocolate? Good quality...

KING: I heard that chocolate is good eating for...

WEIL: Yes.

KING: ... heart patients.

WEIL: It has a neutral effect on cholesterol or a beneficial effect, and it's got antioxidant activity like red wine and...

KING: Dark chocolate only.

WEIL: Good quality dark chocolate.

KING: St. Louis, hello. CALLER: Yes. What do you think of MSM that was brought up on Monday's show on arthritis, and do these products interfere with prescription medications?

WEIL: Well, some of these products can interfere with prescription medication, and that points up the need for having physicians who are trained in this. If physicians don't know what these dietary supplements are, what the herbs are, they're not going to be able to alert you to this.

KING: Is MSM good?

WEIL: I don't know. I think frankly I have not been evidence to back up the claims made for it.

KING: Two doctors disagreed last night.

WEIL: Yes, I don't think so. It's harmless and it can't hurt you.

KING: So then it can't hurt you so...

WEIL: It's a sulfur source, but you can get sulfur from the mustard you're putting on your potato or from horseradish. I don't think -- I have not seen scientific evidence for the claims made for it.

KING: Dr. Weil has many, many, many disciples. He's probably the best-known spokesman for alternative medicine, and obviously, that has a lot to do with the fact that he is a doctor-doctor and not a charlatan. He was trained at Harvard. He teaches medicine at the University of Arizona.

And one of those disciples will join us right after break, and she is Naomi Judd. Don't go away.


KING: By the way, we're scheduled to be on tape tomorrow night with Cybill Shepherd. We will be live following up on the visit of Juan Miguel Gonzalez, the father of Elian Gonzalez, to the United States. There will be a live show tomorrow night, and Cybill Shepherd will air either Friday or next week.

Dr. Andrew Weil is with us. And joining us now from Franklin, Tennessee is Naomi Judd. It's always good to see her, looking terrific, as always.

Now, how did you come to be affected by or involved with the Weil method?

NAOMI JUDD, MUSICIAN: I don't know about the word "disciple."

WEIL: Yes, I don't know either, Naomi. I like you as a -- I like you as a friend rather than as a disciple.


KING: OK, but how did you come in contact -- you and Andrew Weil?

JUDD: We met about seven years ago because of our shared passion for integrative medicine. We want to see it taught in all the 125 accredited medical schools in America, because we both feel strongly about prevention and wellness. And I'm here to say that I believe in this book, because I think American -- Americans haven't acknowledged that food is not only preventative, but it's also the medicine of the future.

KING: How did...

JUDD: Your knife and your fork are power tools.

KING: How did you discover that?

JUDD: I was on my own voyage of self-discovery trying to heal and cure myself from a supposedly "incurable" ailment, and I was reading Dr. Weil's books. He does have eight books. This is the eighth.

"Spontaneous Healing" was so encyclopedic in its range that I actually started a book discussion group, and I started teaching what I wanted to learn. But I feel very strongly that we have got to become proactive in our own lives and our own health situation. And I -- I tell everybody, first of all, to eat your meals together as a family. But I think this is a very important book because there's so much confusion in America right now about food.

KING: What was wrong with you?

JUDD: I had hepatitis C.

KING: And you -- did you treat her, Dr. Weil? Or...

WEIL: I gave Naomi advice. I think she has been a model of integrative medicine. She used the best of conventional medicine. She used alternative medicine. She used her own native intelligence to put together the best of both worlds.

KING: Tell us: Hepatitis C is...

WEIL: This is a viral infection of the liver. Most people who get it have no idea how they got it. It turns up in a routine blood test. It's epidemic in America at the moment. And it has a great potential to cause chronic disease and serious disability.

KING: It can kill you?

WEIL: It can kill you. It can cause permanent liver damage.

KING: So Naomi took regular -- she took medication?

WEIL: She did. KING: And?

WEIL: And she used a variety of other techniques to increase her body's healing power, and I think she's just been a model for what this kind of approach can accomplish.

KING: And what happened, Naomi?

JUDD: Andy -- Andy, I have never heard you use the word "alternative." I know Larry introduced you...

WEIL: No, that's true.

JUDD: We actually...

KING: I use it, but you all -- I think of you as alternative.

WEIL: Well, I think I...

JUDD: We -- we prefer the word "integrative" because Andy's an MD, I'm an RN, and we both feel very strongly that both are better. We actually like the term holistic because it implies that we are whole human beings with a spiritual side, with an emotional side as well as our physical nature.

KING: What did this treatment do for you, Naomi? What did it do? Did it take the -- did the hepatitis C end?

JUDD: I was on interferon only, and it actually did not work for me for a while. But what integrative medicine does is reduce your stress, and we know that 85 percent of all illnesses are stress- related. It's actually the No. 1 killer. It's a global epidemic.

But integrative approaches -- such as biofeedback, chiropractic, acupuncture, aromatherapy, music, meditation, massage, yoga -- all these things, give you a sense of control. It enhances your overall well-being as well as decreasing all the cortisols and coatcholamine (ph), stressors.

KING: How much, Dr. Weil, of this is mental? In other words, if you think it's working -- if I take the pill and I think it's working, it's working.

WEIL: I think that's huge, and you know...

KING: Perception is reality.

WEIL: Right. And this is the realm of placebo responses. I think we have a misperception of them in medicine. We see them as nuisances that muddy up our data. This the meat of medicine. You know, on your show, when people are talking about MSM, curing arthritis in a few days, I would tend to think that is mostly an effective belief, and that's terrific.

You know, we -- we as doctors and as nurses should be trying to use the power of belief to promote healing with the minimal intervention.

KING: Do you agree with Naomi about families eating together?

WEIL: Absolutely. You know, the word companion comes from the Latin root for bread...

KING: Really?

WEIL: Panis. It's sharing bread. I think eating together is one of the most fundamental human connections. And this is one of the problems of some of these weird diets out there today. If you go off eating in a way that separates you from other people, I think it undermines one of the fundamental health aspects of eating.

KING: Naomi, when you started this, were friends calling you a little kooky?

JUDD: No. I think people who know me know that I'm a Christian. They know that I'm very practical, very pragmatic.

KING: It was for a while, though -- weren't you, Dr. Weil, once called a little...

WEIL: No, I think I was just ignored. I don't think people thought -- they paid no attention.


KING: Now, Naomi, do you follow through with this? Do you eat right every day?

JUDD: No. I am so far from Ms. Perfect.

KING: A frank admission.

JUDD: No, I don't, but that's one of the beauties about what Andy does. Andy's so credible. He's so human. I think he's America's favorite doctor, and I'm so enormously proud that he's finally gotten these concepts into mainstream America.

KING: Yes.

JUDD: He taught me to cut down on the red meat, to do away with caffeine. For instance, in my particular case, I use milk thistle, which is silymarin, because it sort of nurtures the hepatic cells. I went on my second round of interferon, which did work, and found it to be very beneficial.

But, Larry -- and you know this from your heart disease -- that we are having more and more chronic illnesses in America, and less than a decade the baby boomers are going to hit Medicare. We have 44 million American without any health coverage. That's abysmal. So we have got to look at something that is right in front of us, and that's food.

KING: Naomi, thanks very much. Always good talking to you. JUDD: Love you, guys.

KING: See you back out here. Naomi Judd. We thought we'd bring her in to show that a lot of people are affected by you.

"America's doctor": How do you like that?

WEIL: Well, we've got a lot of work to do. You know, I wonder why do we put up with the food choices we have in airports. Why do -- why are we letting fast food restaurants serve to kids in our schools? Why...

KING: About schools, I want to ask you about that.

WEIL: All right, yes.

KING: We'll pick right up on that in a minute. We thank Naomi Judd for joining us. The book is "Eating Well for Optimum Health." The guest is America's doctor, Andrew Weil. Don't go away.


KING: Before we take our next call, kids -- attention deficit disorder. Big problems in schools.

WEIL: I'm going...

KING: Eating any wrong foods...

WEIL: I'm going to sound like a broken record. Omega three fatty acid deficiency may be a factor here, and it can start in the mother -- the women who's pregnant. If there's a deficiency of these fatty acids, this may impair brain development...

KING: Pregnant women should take it.

WEIL: ... especially in the last third of pregnancy.

KING: Is there any danger in a lot of sugar, lot Frosted Flakes and stuff? I don't mean to knock Frosted Flakes, but...

WEIL: First of all, there's too much sugar. You know, you look at these kids' cereals, the first ingredient is sugar. And then there's artificial color there and it's refined carbohydrates -- sure, that's a problem.

KING: Could that contribute to...

WEIL: Could contribute. You know, the doctors all say no, but the observations of parents are so consistent that some kids are very sensitive to sugar.

KING: What about Ritalin as a treatment?

WEIL: Well, I worry -- for some kids it's the right thing to do. But I really worry about all the psychiatric medications we're giving kids today. The trend is more and more and more. I don't think that's the solution to all these problems.

KING: So it's easy answer?

WEIL: I don't think it's an easy answer.

KING: I mean for the doctor.

WEIL: Oh, sure, that's very easy to do. You know, any kid that doesn't pay attention, you put him on Ritalin. Some kids really benefit from this, but we don't investigate other ways of dealing with the problem.

KING: Can food help anxiety too? The right foods?

WEIL: You know what? Even more powerful is breathing. You have heard me say this before, but controlling your breath is the most powerful tool.

KING: You can learn to do that, right?

WEIL: Very easy.

KING: Charlottesville, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Dr. Weil, my question...


CALLER: What are the food strategies to prevent fibroids?

WEIL: Well, these are estrogen-dependent benign tumors in the uterus. So you want to avoid excess estrogen, and one way to do that is cutting way down on commercially raised meat and poultry, because estrogen are used as growth promoters in animals and you're getting those residues.

In addition I would cut down in fat in general, on whole fat dairy products, and I would add soy to the diet, which has a protective effect.

KING: Eugene -- Eugene, Oregon, hello. Hello, Eugene.


KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and I'll be starting chemotherapy next week, and I wanted to know what I can do to help combat the fatigue and the other negative factors of the chemotherapy.

KING: A good question.

WEIL: I would -- I would certainly work with a mind-body expert, a hypnotherapist, a practitioner of guided imagery. That can do a great deal to reduce the side effects that you'll experience and to improve the outcomes.

KING: Where does she find that?

WEIL: You can -- if you go to my Web site, which is...

KING: What is it?

WEIL:, there's a practitioner guide there that will help you find a certified hypnotherapist or practitioner of imagery. That would be one of the best recommendations I have for you.

KING: That would be www.DrWeil...



To Salt Lake City, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. Dr. Weil, I a kidney dysfunction. My kidneys are only functioning at 50 percent...

WEIL: Yes.

CALLER: ... and I'm going to be taking an herbal medication from China called Metaline (ph), and I need to know what a low-protein diet is. I have no idea.

WEIL: Well, it's much less protein than the average American eats so that if you, first of all, teach yourself what protein foods are, and then if you eat a serving of protein at one meal, don't necessarily have protein at another meal. In other words, if you have, say, a piece of meat or chicken for lunch, then try to have a no protein for dinner, for example. Try pasta and vegetables.

KING: So protein once a day?

WEIL: Yes. But you know, you can talk to your doctor about that. You want to get the grams of protein you're eating down to, you know, a low level. You'll find this information in my book.

KING: Can food affect body odor?

WEIL: Absolutely. You know, there are interesting stories if you read from the first contact of Japan with Westerners, Asians thought Westerners stank, and it was because of the butter that they ate. Butter contains a substance called butiric acid, which is foul- smelling and comes out in the sweat. Caffeine can affect body order.

KING: How about just taking those two little pills, those little pills that are supposed to be -- Breath -- Breath -- Breath Asure?

WEIL: I have no experience with it so I can't tell you. I can't give you...

KING: No one knows if they work. You take the pills, how do you know?


They feel good...

WEIL: Well, if you believe they work...

KING: How about Scope or Listermint, one of those?

WEIL: I think it's better -- you know, a better strategy is learning to brush your tongue. A lot of -- a lot of odor -- a lot of odor originates in the tongue. And actually, if you get in the habit of brushing or scraping the tongue, that's a good technique.

KING: You do this?

WEIL: I don't. I don't need it.


KING: Brush your tongue?

WEIL: Really.

KING: We'll be back with America's doctor...


Dr. Andrew Weil. Our remaining moments right after this.


KING: We're back with Dr. Weil. Food and PMS.

WEIL: It's again I think important here to reduce the pro- inflammatory fats, which is the polyunsaturated vegetables oils, margarine, partially hydrogenated-fats, and instead increase the olive oil and omega three fatty acids, get proper exercise, reduce caffeine.

KING: What do you think of these new products, the potato chips without fat? What's that called?

WEIL: Olestra.

KING: Olestra.

WEIL: All this is going to do is increase consumption in America of low quality foods that...

KING: Olestra potato chips are not good?

WEIL: No, it's high -- it's the wrong kind of carbohydrate. You know, yes, there's no fat there but it's the wrong kind of carbohydrate that's going to promote obesity in a lot of people.

KING: Avon, Connecticut, hello. CALLER: Yes. I had a hysterectomy 18 years ago, and I've been on Premarin 0.625 milligrams. And with the new study that was just reported with the increased risk of heart disease, I would like to know Dr. Weil's opinion on the Premarin and the risks.

WEIL: Well, I think that's a question that has to be decided individually, looking at your family history, your personal history, your own particular risks. But one piece of advice I'd give you, talk to your doctor about switching from Premarin to the new forms of natural estrogen which are identical to the estrogen made in the body, which have far fewer side effects than that old preparation.

KING: Is estrogen controversial now?

WEIL: Highly controversial. I think, you know, that there's no way around the fact that when you give hormone replacement you're raising risks of certain diseases while decreasing risks of others. So it's a complicated risk-benefit analysis that you've got to do.

KING: Let's get in one more quick call. New London, Connecticut, hello.


KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Hello, Dr. Weil.


CALLER: I have chronic fatigue syndrome...

WEIL: Yes.

CALLER: ... and fybromyalgia.

WEIL: Yes.

CALLER: And I'd like to know if you could recommend anything. And also can anybody come to see you that's not a celebrity?


KING: Do you see...

WEIL: I called and tried, and I could not got...

KING: Do you see patients?

WEIL: Yes, I see patients, and I supervise the Clinic in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona where we see all kinds of patients. So you don't have to be a celebrity. But we -- we have a waiting list because there's so much demand for this kind of medicine and so few doctors doing it.

KING: Chronic fatigue? WEIL: For chronic fatigue, that's a tough subject.

KING: Because it's disputed, right?

WEIL: It's disputed. We don't know what it is. But for fybromyalgia, I would certainly increase these -- follow those strategies I mentioned for decreasing inflammation.

KING: What is fybromyalgia?

WEIL: It hurts all over, and you know, it's common -- it's a common thing. Rheumatologists don't know how to deal with it. But increase consumption of ginger, turmeric. I would try Chinese medicine for this condition.

KING: If we read "Eating Low for Optimum Health"...

WEIL: Yes.

KING: ... and if as a nation turned to this as a concept...

WEIL: Yes.

KING: ... a child born this year will live how long, assuming, you know, obviously, there are risk factors and genes and...

WEIL: Right, I don't know -- I don't know that the primary goal of this is extending lifespan.

KING: Then what's the purpose?

WEIL: I think the goal is increasing...

KING: Better life.

WEIL: ... how you feel and better quality of life so that when you arrive in old age, you're going to feel better. You're going to have more energy. Your mind and body will be working better.

KING: But you don't think with all of this, instead of dying at 76, you'll die at 86?

WEIL: I'm not going to promise that to anybody. I don't know. But I do know that if you make these changes, you'll have more energy, you'll feel better, you'll have a better attitude toward food, you'll feel better about yourself. I think all that's very worth doing.

KING: OK. So we sum all this up, read the book "Eating Well for Optimum Health," brush your tongue...

WEIL: Don't forget!

KING: Don't...

WEIL: And...

KING: ... touch margarine.

WEIL: And you get a piece of dark chocolate if you do that.

KING: Piece of dark chocolate as a reward. Don't have to floss your nose, right?


No, no? OK. And banter at the moon, right? Thanks, doc.

WEIL: Good to see you again.

KING: He's a great guy and a great guest, and the book is "Eating Well for Optimum Health," already a runaway bestseller. I thank Naomi Judd for joining us.

Stay tuned now. We're going to get you up to date on all the latest on the Gonzalez matter, and we'll do a show on it tomorrow night. For our guest here in Los Angeles and in Tennessee, thanks for joining us and good night.



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