Dr. Weil shares if vegetarian and raw food diets are healthy.
There’s a lot of epidemiological evidence that vegetarian diets are very healthy, that vegetarians in general have lower rates of chronic disease, good longevity but there’s vegetarian diets and vegetarian diets.
I meet vegetarians who eat mostly macaroni and cheese three times a day – that’s not a healthy diet.
And raw diets for me are problematic. The people who argue for raw diets say that the enzymes in foods are destroyed by cooking and that these are vital to good health.
That’s nonsense. Dropping enzymes into stomach acid is at least as violent transformation as cooking and enzymes are proteins, they are digested like protein molecules in the stomach. They really serve no role in human nutrition.
Also some micronutrients, especially the carotenoid pigments, things like beta carotene, lutein which is protective of eye health, lycopene which is very protective against cancer found in tomatoes for example. These are much more available from cooked foods than from raw foods.
And finally there are many natural toxins in vegetables which we don’t even think about that are easily broken down by cooking.
So I think those are the main arguments against an all-raw-foods diet. I think an optimum diet should include a mix of raw and cooked foods.
About Dr. Weil, M.D.:
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., was born in Philadelphia in 1942, received an A.B. degree in biology (botany) from Harvard in 1964 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1968. After completing a medical internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, he worked a year with the National Institute of Mental Health before writing his first book, The Natural Mind. From 1971-75, as a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Dr. Weil traveled widely in North and South America and Africa collecting information on drug use in other cultures, medicinal plants, and alternative methods of treating disease. From 1971-84 he was on the research staff of the Harvard Botanical Museum and conducted investigations of medicinal and psychoactive plants.