Weil comes to western Mass. for WFCR benefit

By Debbie Gardner

PRIME Editor

SOUTH HADLEY It's as natural a process as sunrise leading to sunset.

I'm talking about the aging process.

But in a culture that seems obsessed with celebrating youth, this natural process has become something people fear, shun, even deny.

Just look at the plethora of anti-aging medicines, supplements and philosophies that have flooded the consumer market in recent years.

In his new book, Healthy Aging, a Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being, Dr. Andrew Weil, M. D., one of the country's foremost experts on health and wellness, sets out to dispel the misconceptions our society seems to hold about aging.

"I think there's a real potential to change the way we look at aging," Weil said.

Come hear Dr. Weil speak

Weil will be in western Massachusetts on Oct. 28 to outline his roadmap to healthy aging during a lecture and booksigning at Chapin Auditorium at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley.

The event, a fund-raiser for public radio station 88.5 WFCR, begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, priced from $10 - $50, are available at the UMass Fine Arts Center Box Office, 413-545-2511 or 800-999-UMASS, or online at www.wfcr.org.

Weil's appearance is being sponsored by Mount Holyoke College, Baystate Health Systems, the Valley Advocate and the Odyssey Bookshop.

Copies of Healthy Aging can be pre-ordered with lecture tickets for an additional $25.

"I'll be happy to answer questions in more detail about the book, or particular treatments or diseases that [attendees] are interested in," Weil told Reminder Publications during a telephone interview about his upcoming appearance.

Changing how we see aging

"I want [people] to come away with a different view of aging," Weil said, referring to his upcoming lecture and the message in his book. "I think in our culture at the moment there is a great influence [exerted by] the anti-aging philosophies, both in medicine and in many aspects of our [lifestyle]."

From hormone injections to health food store supplements, to creams and lotions and lifestyle books, the message, Weil said, "is all about age-erasers."

"We are bombarded with the message that youth is where its at and life diminishes as we age," he said. "But the real anti-aging medicine is what we can do about age-related diseases."

Real anti-aging medicine

Weil said when he refers to anti-aging medicine, he's talking about strategies for staving off the big three scourges of advancing age cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

The biggest anti-aging strategy here is a revamping of diet to reduce "inflammation" the all-out assault of the immune system to some real or perceived injury or attack on the body.

In his book Weil explains that, for example, coronary artery disease was once thought of as caused by choloresterol buildup in artery walls. Many cardiologists now contribute it to the chronic inflammation of the artery walls, with the choloresterol deposits acting as means of patching the damage.

"You might think of it as a wellness diet," Weil said of his emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts and seeds, Omega-3 fatty acids, whole grain carbohydrates and fish and vegetable sources of protein. "If you were designing a diet for optimum wellness, it would be the same."

Supplements and herbs are part of this intergrative medicine expert's prescription for healthy aging, too.

"Ginger and turmeric are hot," he said. "I found it interesting that in Okinawa, where I spent a lot of time researching this book, there is a lot of use of turmeric. And in India, where turmeric is eaten with every meal, there is the lowest incidence of Alzheimer's."

Learning to age well

But beyond convincing his readers to examine their habits in relation to diet, exercise, stress reduction, sleep and meditation, Weil hopes Healthy Aging will also change their attitude towards growing older.

"I think a lot of it is fear it's fear of all the things that old age will bring," Weil said of our society's relentless fascination with youth. "I haven't analyzed where this has come from; it's a 20th century phenomenon."

He said despite all that's been written about growing older, very little talks about the values of aging.

"That's what I'm going to talk about in the program [on Oct. 28]," Weil said.

Among the values the 60-year-old Weil sees in growing older are things such as wisdom and experience.

"You know more things and how to do more things better at 60 than you do at 20," he said.

And with age comes, as he put it, a depth of character.

"There's a concentration of what's valuable in the human experience," he continued.

With the Baby Boomer generation staring aging squarely in the face, he expects the perception of what it means to age to change, again.

"I think this is a good time for this book to come out because it's going to resonate with a large demographic in this country," Weil said. "A demographic that's used to getting what it wants, and being very pro-active."

Reminder Publications, Inc. 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028 • Tel: 413.525.6661 • Fax 413.525.5882

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