To TIME magazine publishers I say thank you for the article, and nutritional acknowledgement to the masses. I am admirably pleased to share with the MAP team that with likely one of the most meaningful interviews of his long career; On the cover of TIME magazine, in October 17, 2005 edition, page 64,
I quote from Dr. Andrew Weil's Wellness Diet: ''Overview: Aim for variety, and include as much fresh food as possible in your diet. Minimize your consumption of processed and fast food. Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables, and try to include carbohydrates, fat and protein in every meal. Most adults need to consume between 2,000 and 3,000 calories a day. Women and smaller, less active people require fewer calories; men and larger, more active people need more calories. The distribution of calories you take in should be 40% to 50% from carbohydrates, 30% from fat and 20% to 30% from protein. . . For Omega - 3 acids, eat salmon (preferably wild-fresh or frozen-or canned sockeye), sardines, herring, black cod (sablefish, butterfish), omega-3 fortified eggs, hempseeds, flaxseeds and walnuts; or take a fish-oil supplement.''
Kudos to you Dr Weil, it validates the hours I have stood on the sidewalk in front of the local DEA office handing out hemp seed samples.
Weil's practice, and philosophy on life follows. It reads like my passion of sharing hemp seed nutrition with others. In my youth, through reading the research of Dr. Forrest Shaklee, I learned what Omega 3 essential acids do in the body. I have been blessed with eating approximately ¼ to ½ cup of hemp seeds most everyday of my adult life. My first purchases were made at my local feed and seed store. Fresh, delicious shelled seeds from Canada are the most convenient When I see others withn nutritional deficits, I can't hold myself back from sharing the Omega 3 acids in hemp seeds. Most noticeable are the advantages eating hemp seeds give to my vision.
EXCLUSIVE BOOK EXCERPT, DR. ANDREW WEIL, TIME MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 17, 2005 "LIVING BETTER LONGER" Picture of Dr. Andrew Weil is on the cover.
CARBOHYDRATES - On a 2,000-calories-a-day diet, adult women should eat about 150 g to 200 g of carbohydrates daily. (Most of this should be in the form of less refined, less processed foods.) Adult men should eat about 240g to 300g of carbohydrates a day. Reduce your consumption of foods made with wheat flour and sugar, especially bread and most packaged snack foods. Eat more whole grains ( not whole-wheat-flour products), beans, winter squashes and sweet potatoes. Cook pasta al dente and eat it in moderation. AVOID products made with high-fructose corn syrup.
FAT- On a 2,000-calorie-a day diet, 600 calories can come from fat-that is, about 67g. This should be in a ratio of 1:2:1 of saturated to monounsaturated to poly-unsaturated fat. Reduce your intake of saturated fat by eating less butter, cream, cheese and other full-fat dairy products, unskinned chicken, fatty meats and products made with coconut and palm-kernel oils. Used extra-virgin olive oil as a main cooking oil. If you want natural-tasting oil, use expeller-pressed organic cornala oil. High-oleic versions of sunflower and safflower oil are also acceptable.
AVOID regular safflower and sunflower oils, corn oil, cottonseed oil and mixed vegetable oils.
STRICTLY AVOID margarine, vegetable shortening and all products listing them as ingredients. Strictly avoid all products made with partially hydrogenated oils of any kind. Include in your diet avocados and nuts, especially walnuts, cashews and almonds and nut butters made from them. For Omega-3 fatty acids, eat salmon (preferably wild-fresh or frozen-or canned sockeye), sardines, herring, black cod (sablefish, butter-fish), omega-3 fortified eggs, hemp seeds, flax seeds and walnuts; or take a fish-oil supplement (see next page).
PROTEIN - On a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, your daily intake of protein should be between 80g and 120g. Eat less protein if you have liver or kidney problems, allergies or autoimmune disease. Decrease your consumption of animal protein except for fish and reduced-fat dairy products. Eat more vegetable protein, especially from beans in general and soybeans in particular.
FIBER - Try to eat 40g of fiber a day. You can achieve this by increasing your consumption of fruit, vegetables (especially beans) and whole grains. Ready-made cereals can be good fiber sources, but read labels to make sure they give you at least 4g and preferably 5g of bran per 1-oz. Serving.
PHYTONUTRIENTS - To get maximum natural protection against age-related diseases, eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and mushrooms. Choose fruits and vegetables from all parts of the color spectrum, especially berries, tomatoes, orange and yellow fruits, and dark leafy greens. Choose organic produce whenever possible. Learn which conventionally grown crops are most likely to carry pesticide residues, and avoid them. Eat cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables regularly. Include soy foods in your diet. Drink tea instead of coffee, especially good-quality white, green or oolong tea. If you drink alcohol, use red wine preferentially. Enjoy plain dark chocolate (with a minimum cocoa content of 70%) in moderation.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS - The best way to obtain all you daily vitamins, minerals and micronutrients is by eating a diet high in fresh foods, with an abundance of fruits and vegetables. In addition, supplement your diet with this antioxidant cocktail: Vitamin C, 200mg a day; Vitamin E, 400 IUs of natural mixed tocopherols (d-alpha-tocopherol with other tocopherols or better, a minimum of 80 mg of natural mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols). Selenium, 200mcg of an organic (yeast-bound) form. Mixed carotenoids, 10,000 IUs to 15,000 IUs daily In addition, take a daily multivitamine-multimeral supplement that provides at least 400 mcg of folic acid and at least 1,000 IUs of vitamine D. It should contain no iron and no preformed vitamin A (retinol). Take supplemental calcium, preferably as calcium citrate. Women need 1,200mg to 1,500mg a day, depending on their dietary intake of this mineral; men should get no mre than 1,200mg of calcium a day from all sources.
OTHER DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS - If you are not eating oily fish at least twice a week, take supplemental fish oil, 1g to 2g a day. Look for molecularly distilled products certified to be free of heavy metals and other contaminants. Talk to your doctor about going on low-dose aspirin therapy, 1 or 2 baby aspirins (81mg or 162mg) a day. If you are not regularly eating ginger and tumeric, consider taking them in supplemental form. Add co-enzyme Q-10 to your daily regimen; 60mg to 100mg in a soft-gel form taken with your largest meal. If you are prone to metabolic syndrome, take alpha-lipoic adic, 100mg to 400mg a day.
WATER - Try to take 6 to 8 glasses of pure water or drinks that are mostly water (tea, very diluted fruit juice, sparking water with lemon) every day. Use bottled water or get a home water purifier if your tap water tastes of chlorine or other contaminants. For more information, see http://www.healthyaging.com
In an exclusive TIME book excerpt; Dr. Andrew Weil shares his secrets for maximizing health and happiness - no matter how old you are.
AGING NATURALLY I recently turned 60. To help celebrate the occasion, friends organized a surprise party. After the festivities, there came a time to reflect, and I came to an uncomfortable conclusion: I am closer to that period in life whn my energy and powers will diminish and I will lose my independence. At age 60, the organs of the body gradually begin to fail and the first hints of age-related disease begin to appear.
I hardly notice my aging on a day-to-day basis. When I look in the mirror each morning, my face and white beard seem the same as the day before. But in photography from the 1970s, my beard is completely black. On closer inspection, I notice other changes in my body: more aches and pains, less resilience, less vigor. And my memory may not be quite what it used to be. At the same time, despite the evidence, some part of me feel unchanged. In fact, I feel the same as when I was 6.
Some years ago I went to my 25th high school reunion. I had not seed most of my classmates since our graduation in 1959. A few were just as I remembered them, hardly changed at all. Others looked so aged that I could barely find points of coincidence with the pictures of them I had in my head. Why the difference? Why are some individuals so outwardly altered by time and others not? Or, in other words, why is there often a discrepancy between chronological age and biological age?
I believe the answer has to do with complex interactions of genetics and environment. I also believe, on the basis of evidence I have reviewed, we actually have control over some of those factors.
I do not subscribe to the view that aging suddenly overtakes us at some point of life, whether at 60 or some other milestone. I meet researchers, physicians and others who believe that we are born, grow rapidly to maturity, and coast along a more or less comfortable plateau until we begin to decline. They call the period of decline senescence and consider it distinct and apart from what came before.
I find it more useful to think of aging as a continuous and necessary process of change that begins at conception. Wherever you on the continuum, it is important to learn how to live in appropriate ways in order to maximize health and happiness. That should be an essential goal for all of us. What is appropriate when you are in your 20s is likely not going to be appropriate in your 50s.
We can mask the outward signs of the process or ty to keep up old routines in spite of it, but we cannot change the fact that we are all moving toward physical change. The best we can do-an it is a lot-is to accept the inevitability of aging and try to adapt to it, to be in the best health we can at any age. To my mind the denial of aging and the attempt to fight it are counterproductive, a failure to understand and accept an important aspect of our existence. Such attitudes are major obstacles to aging gracefully.
Which brings me to the subject of anti-aging medicine.
THE ANTIAGING BUSINESS Antiaging medicine is nothing new. What is remarkable, though, it is growth into an organized field, with journals, annual meetings and a concentrated attempt by leaders to have it recognized as a legitimate specialty of orthodox medicine.
There are at present no effective antiaging medicines. Yet the field keeps expanding. Currently, popular practices include live-cell therapy (injecting the fetal cells of animals into human beings), caloric restriction (drastically limiting the number of calories a body takes in) and hormone therapy (to restore hormones to levels found in younger people).
Here is the crux of the difference between practitioners of antiaging medicine and more conventional colleagues: the former are using methods and making claims that the latter consider unsupported by scientific evidence. Most of those methods may be relatively harmless except to the bank accounts of clients; others may not.
Furthermore, I am dismayed by the emphasis on appearance in antiaging medicine. This is apparent not just in the use of senior bodybuilders as models of healthy aging but in the prominent inclusion of cosmetic surgery in the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine's conferences and publications. To my mind, all this represents attempts to deny or mash the outward signs of aging. It is nonacceptance of aging - one of the great obstacles to doing it gracefully.
If you are tempted by the promises of antiaging medicine, I would advise you to use it selectively. Always assess the potential for harm of any intervention. Then try to evaluate the evidence for any claimed benefits. Weigh potential benefits against possible risks, including exorbitant costs. Get second opinions from doctors who are not part of the antiaging enterprise. If you do decide to follow a special treatment regimen, set a time limit for judging whether it does you any good-say, three to six months. Then determine if it was worth the cost.
Before I leave this subject, I want to warn you that the promises you will hear from antiaging practitioners are going to become more extravagant in the coming years. A number of hard-core molecular biologists claim to have identified genetic mechanisms that control the aging process as well as ways of manipulating them. These researchers believe that the biological clock can be stopped or turned back, and as antiaging doctors learn about this work, they will use it to their advantage.
My bottom line for now is that these theoretical breakthrough serve only as distractions from what's important-mainly, learning to accept the inevitability of aging, understanding its challenges and promises, and knowing how to keep minds and bodies as healthy as possible while moving through life's successive stages.
To age gracefully means to let nature take its course while doing everything in our power to delay the onset of age-relaated disease. Or, in other words, to live as long and as well as possible, then have a rapid decline at the end of life. In the following pages, I will share some of my recommendations for what you can do to experience healthy aging. They are not intended to help you grow younger, to extend life beyond its reasonable limits or to make it easier for you to deny the fact of aging. The goal is to adapt to the changes that time brings and to arrive at old age with minimal deficits and discomforts-in technical terms, to compress morbidity. I hope that you will discover and enjoy the benefits that aging can bring: wisdom, depth of character, the smoothing out of what is rough and harsh, the evaporation of what is inconsequential and the concnetration of true worth.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION Taking care of the body means different things at different stages in life. For example, accidents are major causes of death and disability in people in their teens and 20's, often the result of thoughtless and reckless behavior, such as riding motorcycles without helmets, diving headfirst into murky bodies of water and using drugs an alcohol unwisely.
Habits acquired in those years-notably addiction to tobacco-can markedly increase the risk of chronic disease in later life. Men in their 30s and 40s often injure themselves by engaging in contact sports or exercising improperly, while men in their 50s and 60s are often too sedentary. One of the secrets of healthy aging is knowingly how to evaluate the riskiness of your behavior. Another is being willing to let go of behaviors more suited to younger bodies.
Obviously you will not have a chance to experience healthy aging if you succumb to one of the common diseases that strike people in midlife, such as a heart attack or a tobacco-related cancer. To avoid these, you must be aware of your personal health risks, as suggested by your medical history, your family history and your medical examinations. You also need to know how to take advantage of moden preventive medicine-for example, how to make the best use of diagnostic screening tests that are now available (and to avoid tests that are not accurate or sensitive enough to justify their use).
There is much you can do to prevent illness, including having a complete physical exam and regular checkups. But there are towo specific points of preventive health care that I feel need emphasis:
Don't smoke. Tobacco addiction is the simgle greatest cause of preventable illness. Exposure to tobacco smoke not only increases the odds of developing many kinds of cancer but also raises the risks of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Inhalation of vaporized nicotine is as addictive as the smoking of crack cocaine or crystal methamphetamine. Almost all cases of tobacco addiction begin in the teenage years or earlier; therefore, I address this message to young readers. Do not experiment with smoking the chance of becoming addicted is too great, and this is one of the hardest of all addictions to break, and this is one of the hardest of all addictions to break.
Watch your weight. Morbid obesity, sometimes defined as being more than 100 lbs. Above your "normal" weight, is incompatible with healthy aging because it increases the risk of a number of age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis. Ordinary obesity-weighing at least 20% more than you should-correlates with milder forms of these diseases as well as with increased incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer and cancer of the uterus, colon, kidney and esophagus. But what is normal, and how much should you weigh?
It is quite possible that our criteria for obesity and our thinking about its medical implications have been warped by fashion. We all know morbid obesity when we see it; clearly, it interferes with activities of daily living and makes people unhappy and unhealthy. But being too lean may also compromise health and successful aging. I believe that those who are somewhat overweight but fit in middle age may enjoy a healthier and longer old age than those who are lean and not fit.
DIET - IT SCHOULD BE OBVIOUS BY NOW THAT DIETS don't work, except in the short term. By definition, diets are regimens that eventually end, and when people go off them the weight that was lost in almost always regained. I am going to urge you to follow a diet that I believe can increase the probability of healthy aging, but I hesitate even to call it a diet. It is absolutely not intended as a weight-loss program, nor is it an eating plan to stay on for a limited period of time. Rather, it is the nutritional component of a healthy lifestyle. I like to call it the Anti-Inflammatory Diet.
The word inflammation suggests "fire within," a graphic if inaccurate image. Normal inflammation is the healing system's response to localized injury and attack. It is confined to that location, serves a purpose and ends when the problem is resolved. Abnormal inflammation extends beyond its appointed limits in space and time. It does not end when the problem is resolved. The inflammatory process unleashes some of the immune system's most sophisticated weaponry, including enzymes that can rupture cell walls and digest vital components of cells and tissues. When inflammation targets normal tissues, when it just won't quit, it is abnormal and promotes disease rather than healing. Abnormal inflammation has been linked to a wide range of diseases, including cancer, coronary heart disease and the autoimmune diseases-Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatic fever, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus.
I believe without question that diet influences inflammation. The food choices we make can determine whether we are in a pro-inflammatory state or in an anti-inflammatory one. The anti-inflammatory diet on these pages (see box) offers specific recommendations for foods to include and foods to avoid.
SUPPLEMENTS - WHETHER OR NOT TO SUE DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS is a contentious issue today.
Here are the facts as I see them. I have always maintained that supplemental nutrients are not substitutes for the whole foods that contain them. Taking supplements does not excuse you from eating a healthy diet. This is particularly true for the micronutrients . I take a good daily multivitamine-multimineral supplement, one that I formulated myself, as insurance against gaps in my diet-for example, to cover those days when I am on the road and simply can't get the fruits and vegetables I'd like. The more regularly we supply our bodies with antioxidants and phytonutrients, the better our health. Most of us simply can't do that with food, hence the need for supplements.
Apart from providing insurance against gaps in the diet, supplements can provide optimum dosages of natural therapeutic agents that may help prevent and treat age-related diseases. Consider vitamine E. Oil-rich seeds and nuts are the main food sourse of it. Many studies suggest that doses in the range of 200 Ius to 400Ius of alpha-tocopherol (or better, 80mg to 160mg of the whole complex, including tocotrienols) offer the best antioxidant protection against common age-related diseases. Nuts are good for you, but you would have to eat far too many to get that amount of vitamine E.
I should say too that I have always favored increased regulation of the dietary-supplement industry, which has proved incapable of policing itself. I would like to see the U.S. Food and Drug Administration create a new Division of Natural Therapeutic Agents to regulate herbs, vitamins, minerals and other products-not with the intent of thwarting consumer access to them but rather of ensuring that products on the market are safe, contain what they claim to contain, and do what they claim to do.
EXERCISE - IT IS PROBABLY POSSIBLE TO LEAD AN IN-ACTIVE life and still experience healthy aging, but it isn't likely. Almost all the healthy seriors I know were physically active throughout life, and many of them still are. They walk, dance, play golf, swim, lift weights, do youga and Tai Chi. Of course, it is possible to get too much physical activity, not just because overactivity raises the possibility of damaging joints, muscles and bones, but also because of the possible adverse effects on body composition, the nervous system and reproductive and immune function. Knees are especially vulnerable, and surgical methods for repairing them are less than ideal. Repeated concussive injuries, as in football and soccer, may be associated with cognitive impairment in later life. That said, far more people in our culture err on the side of getting too little physical activity than too much.
Walking, if you do it vigorously enough, is the overall best exercise for regular aerobic activity. It requires no equipment, everyone knows how to do it and it carries the lowest risk of injury. The human body is designed to walk. You can walk in parks or shopping malls in your neighborhood. To get maximum benefit from walking, aim for 45 minutes a day, an average of five days a week. Strength training is another important component physical activity. Its purpose is to build and maintain bone and muscle mass, both of which diminish with age. In general, you will want to do strength training two or three days a week, allowing recovery days between sessions. You should be able to develop a routine, whether with machines, free weights or tubing, that you can complete in half an hour.
Finally, flexibility and balance training are increasingly important as the body ages. Aches and pains are high on the list of complaints in old age. Many of them are avoidable, the result of chronic muscle tension and stiffness of joints; simple flexibility training can prevent these by toning muscles and keeping joints lubricated. Some of this you do whenever you stretch. If you watch dogs and cats, you'll get an idea of how natural it is. The general principle is simply: whenever the body has been in one position for a while, it is good to briefly stretch it in an opposite position.
The best-known formal system of stretching is yoga, now immensely popular in the West. Many different styles of yoga exist, some very vigorous and demanding, some quite gentle. I couldn't be more pleased to see yoga becoming so main-stream in our part of the world; I think it will increase the numbers of healthier and happier people here. But I do not recommend the strenuous forms for everyone. Older people will do best with gentle forms of hatha yoga.
REST AND SLEEP - IN ADDITION TO ADEQUATE AND PROPER physical activity, the human body needs adequate and proper rest and sleep. Most children and young adults have no problem getting them. Older people often do.
The few memories I can retrieve of nursery school and kindergarten are of afternoon naps after milk (which I didn't like) and cookies (which I did), curled up on a blanket on the floor of a classroom, often in a patch of sunlight coming through a window. It was so easy then to nap and wake up refreshed. I've had to relearn that process in my 60s - without the cookies.
One change I notice is that I get sleepy earlier than I used to, sometimes by 8:30 or 9 if I am having a quiet evening at home. I don't want to go to bed that early, because if I do, I'll get too much sleep or wake up when it's still dark. Sleep experts call this "advancement of the sleep phase" and note that it is a common experience of older people.
So here is my advice about rest and sleep for healthy aging:
REST IS IMPORTANT. Make time for daily periods when you can be passive, without stimulation, doing nothing.
NAPS ARE GOOD. Try to get into the habit of napping: 10 minutes to 20 minutes in the afternoon, preferably lying down in a darkened room.
TO MINIMIZE EARLY WAKING, try to postpone the evening meal until after dusk and schedule some kind of stimulating activity in the early evening.
IF YOUR MIND IS TOO ACTIVE when you get into bed, you will not be able to fall asleep, no matter how tired you are. It is good to know one or more relaxation techniques that can halp you disengage from thoughts. More on those later.
TOUCH AND SEX - TOUCH IS A BASIC REQUIREMENT FOR OPTIMUM HEALTH:;; touch-deprived babies, both animal and human, do not develop normally. This need does not diminish with age, but older people often have fewer opportunities to give and receive health-promoting physical contact. I urge you as strongly as possible to find ways to touch and be touches as you move through life. One way, a perfectly good one, is to treat yourself to massage on a regular basis.
Lack of sex is not so easily remedied if one lives alone or with a partner who is no longer interested in physically able to engage in it. Clearly, many older people have active sex lives and get pleasure from it as much as or more than ever.
The point is that sexuality changes as you grow older. If you agree that acceptance of aging is the goal, then you must work out your peace with changes in your sexual life. Here are some strategies that I recommend:
IF YOU ARE OLDER and living with a partner, try to express your needs, especially if they have changed. See if you can find areas of common ground where you can exchange some form of nurturing touch.
SELF-STIMULATION is always an option. I consider it a healthy practice throughout life.
EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. Pay attention to how your interests and appetites change. Try to adapt to the changes. And keep in mind that for some people diminished interest in sex can be a liberating and welcome change.
STRESS - LIFE IS STRESSFUL AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN. Eliminating stress entirely is not an option. If there are discrete sources of stress in your life - a relationship, a job, a healthy problem - you can and should take action to try to mitigate them. But my experience is that we all are subject to a kind of conservation law of stress. If stress recedes in one area, it seems to increase in another. Get your finances in order, and your relationship sours. Get your relationship together, and the kids cause you grief.
Whatever objectives stress you have to deal with, you can learn to activate the so-called relaxation response, a shift within the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic dominance (the fight-or-flight response) to parasympathetic dominance (the heart rate slows, blood pressure falls and metabolism and immunity are optimal). You can evoke the relaxation response in many ways, by working on your breathing, practicing yoga, taki8ng biofeedback training, floating in water or stroking a cat or dog that you love.
I have long promoted the benefits of working with the breath as a simplest, most efficient way of taking advantage of the mind-body connection to affect both physical and mental health. Here's a simple relaxing breath technique you can try at home:
Practice the exercise at lease twice a day and whenever you feel stressed, anxious or off center. After a month, if you are comfortable with it, increase to eight breaths each time. The obvious advantages of this kind of practice are that it requires no equipment, is free and can be done anywhere. It is the most cost-and-time-efficient relaxation method I have discovered, and I teach it to all my patients and to all health professionals I train.
THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS AND ATTITUDES - YOUR THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS AND ATTITUDES are key determinants of how you age. The most common forms of emotional imbalance - depression and anxiety - are so prevalent that they can properly be called epidemic. They affect people of all ages, including a large percentage of the elderly. Doctors manage them with antidepressants and antianxiety agents - the key word here being "manage." These drugs suppress depression and anxiety; they do not cure them or get to their roots.
Conventional psychotherapy can make people aware of the thought patterns that give rise to emotional problems, but it rarely helps people change them. Changing habits of thought requires consciousness effort and practice and often outside help. The best sources of help I have found are innovative forms of psychotherapy and Buddhist psychology.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, has become popular only in recent years. It traces its remote origins in part to the teachings of a Greek philosopher, Epicvtetus, a former slave who developed a science of happiness. Perhaps the best-known expression of Epictetus' philosophy is the Serenity Prayer, attributed to the Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous: "God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference."
Five hundred years ago, the Buddha taught his followers that unhappiness derives from the incessant habits of judging every experience as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral and of trying to hold on to the pleasant ones while shunning the unpleasant.
In the 1970s, a "cognitive revolution" in psychotherapy incorporated these ideas into modern psychology and inspired the development of practical methods of implementing them. The result is that technologies now exist to help people change their patterns of thought and the emotions and behavior that derive from them. (By "technologies," I mean therapeutic strategies like CBT, not the use of devices) Moreover, these new forms of psychotherapy are effective - as effective as the latest psychiatric drugs in many studies - and they work quickly, not requiring the commitments of time and money that older forms of talk therapy do.
SPIRIT - ONE OF THE TENETS OF THE INTERGRATIVE medicine that I practice is that health and illness involve more than the psysical body. Good medicine must address the whole person: body, mind and spirit. My aim is to call attention to our unchanging essence - the part of us that remains the same no matter how much our appearance changes.
I consider it important for both doctors and patients to know how to assess spiritual health. Today there is a minor trend in medical education to offer some instruction in this area. More often than not, however, it is offered as an elective, and often it is linked to teaching about death and dying. At its best, it makes medical students aware of this other dimension of human life and gives them tools to help patients know their strengths and weaknesses, whether or not they have life-threatening illnesses.
One way to promote spiritual well-being is through the writing of an ethical will. An ordinary will or last testament mainly concerns the disposition of your material possessions at death. An ethical will has to do with nonmaterial gifts: the values and life lessons that you wish to leave to others.
In many cultures, elders, sages and saints have saved some of their pithiest teachings for students and disciples gathered at their deathbeds. Hindu saints, Zen masters and Jewish rabbis have been particularly good at this sort of thing; many of their final words have been written down for posterity. Jewish ethical wills almost 1,000 years old are preserved, and the practice of writing them appears to go back at least 1,000 years before that.
I can think of no better way to close this article than to recommend that you undertake the composition of an eihical will. No matter how old you are, it will make you take stock of your life experience and distill from it the values and wisdom you have gained. You can ten put the document aside, read it over as the years pass and revise it from time to time as you see fit. It can be a wonderful gift to leave to your family at the end of your life, but I think its primary importance is what it can give you in the midst of life.
Aging brings rewards as well as challenges. And to age gracefully requires that we stop denying the fact of aging and learn and practice what we have to do to keep our bodies and minds in good working order through all phases of life. The first step toward aging gracefully is to look at the process sqarely and honestly and understand it for what it is. My hope is that I have helped you to do just that. 7