Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being

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Spontaneous Healing ... Eight Weeks to Optimum Health ... Eating Well for Optimum Health ... The Healthy Kitchen in each of his widely acclaimed, best-selling books, Dr. Andrew Weil has been an authoritative and companionable guide through a uniquely effective combination of traditional and nontraditional approaches to health and healthy living. Now he gives us a book about aging that is unlike any other in the breadth and depth of its information and understanding. Hugely informative, practical, and uplifting, ...
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With all of his best-selling books, Dr. Andrew Weil has been an authoritative and companionable guide through a uniquely effective combination of traditional and non-traditional ... approaches to health and healthy living. Now he gives us a book about aging, that is unlike any other in the breadth and depth of its information and understanding. Hugely informative, practical and uplifting, it is infused with the engaging candor and common sense that have been the hallmarks of all his books. 294 informative pages from the Doctor that reviews have said is 'The voice of reason in a deeply divided world." S.F. Examiner. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Spontaneous Healing ... Eight Weeks to Optimum Health ... Eating Well for Optimum Health ... The Healthy Kitchen in each of his widely acclaimed, best-selling books, Dr. Andrew Weil has been an authoritative and companionable guide through a uniquely effective combination of traditional and nontraditional approaches to health and healthy living. Now he gives us a book about aging that is unlike any other in the breadth and depth of its information and understanding. Hugely informative, practical, and uplifting, it is infused with the engaging candor and common sense that have been the hallmarks of all his books.

At the heart of Healthy Aging is Dr. Weil’s belief that although aging is an irreversible process, there are myriad things we can do to keep our minds and bodies in good working order through all phases of life. To that end, he draws on the new science of biogerentology (the biology of aging) as well as on the secrets of healthy longevity -- diet, activity, and attitude -- that he has gathered firsthand from cultures around the world. In Part One -- "The Science and Philosophy of Healthy Aging" he explains how the body ages, and he explores the impact of gender, genes, environment, and lifestyle on an individual’s experience and perception of the process of aging. He describes the various would-be elixirs of life extension -- herbs, hormones, and antiaging -- medicines -- separating myth from fact and clearly delineating the difference between the spurious notions of preventing or reversing the process of aging and the real possibilities of inhibiting or delaying the onset of diseases that become more likely as we age. He writes movingly about the ways in which an acceptance of aging can be a significant part of doing it well, and of recognizing and appreciating the great rewards of growing older: depth and richness of experience, complexity of being, serenity, wisdom, and its own kind of power and grace.

In Part Two -- "How to Age Gracefully" Weil details an easy-to-implement Anti-inflammatory Diet that will protect the immune system and aid your body in resisting and adapting to the changes that time brings. And he provides extensive practical advice on exercise; preventive health care; stress management; physical, mental, and emotional flexibility; and spiritual enhancement -- all of which can help you achieve and maintain the best health throughout the lifelong process of aging.

Healthy Aging -- a book for people of all ages -- is Andrew Weil’s most important and far-reaching book yet.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Self-betterment advocate Dr. Andrew Weil offers a generation of aging Boomers crucial advice on aging well, combining conventional and alternative medicine-speak with his unique voice and blend of authority and compassion. As always, Weil addresses spiritual as well as physical well-being -- he devotes separate sections to mind/spirit and body -- making sure to emphasize positive aspects of aging but never sugar-coating the truth. For authoritative and compassionate help on gracefully moving into your golden years, make Weil your guide.
Publishers Weekly
America's best-known complementary care physician offers a convincing portrait of aging as a natural part of life that can be active, productive and satisfying. Using the examples of his mother, who died at age 93; centenarians from Okinawa and Sardinia; and myths and legends, Weil (Eating Well for Optimum Health) explores common Western beliefs and attitudes about aging and urges readers to develop healthier perspectives. The 60-year-old author assesses the growing and lucrative field of anti-aging medicine, takes the position that aging is not reversible, and offers many ways for readers to prevent conditions and illnesses that limit mortality and ensure well-being into the later years. He provides scientifically based information on why and how the body ages and advice on key components of good health at every age: exercise, nutrition, vitamins and herbs, and stress-relieving activities. Much of this advice is available in Weil's previous works as well as on his Web site. The real value is Weil's courageous stand, one likely to meet resistance in a culture devoted to external indicators of eternal youth. Refreshingly, Weil embraces the notion, popular in Eastern cultures, that age brings wisdom, peace and prosperity of a different kind. Agent, Richard Pine. (Oct. 18) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In his latest book, Weil (director, Program in Integrative Medicine, Univ. of Arizona; 8 Weeks to Optimum Health) explains the aging process and offers practical guidelines for maintaining good health while growing older. He begins with a discussion of the physiological processes involved before segueing into various antiaging therapies and explaining why they don't work. Using reputable scientific studies as a basis, he provides tools that will help us age well: good nutrition to minimize inflammation, the cause of cardiovascular disease; physical activity; a few well-chosen nutritional supplements; adequate rest and sleep; stress reduction; and a satisfying social and spiritual life. Although this is not groundbreaking information, Weil's inclusion of scientific sources sets his book apart from the glut of antiaging titles, e.g., Michael F. Roizen's The RealAge Makeover: Take Years Off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life. Highly recommended for public and consumer health libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/05.]-Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Dr. Weil's common-sense approach to lifelong well-being has a lot of appeal. . . . Weil's message is hopeful and reassuring."
The Washington Post

“Forget plastic surgery. Skip the pricey face creams and the drugs for creaky bodies. Natural-medicine champion Weil, who’s now in his sixties, covers longevity research, aging, and how he’s embracing the experience.”
Life magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375407550
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/18/2005
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.59 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Weil, M.D., a graduate of Harvard Medical School, is Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at that institution. Dr. Weil produces a monthly newsletter, "Self-Healing," maintains a popular website, drweil.com, and writes a monthly column in Prevention magazine. He is a frequent guest on radio and television and lectures widely on nutrition and natural medicine. This is his tenth book.

Biography

Since the early ‘70s, Andrew Weil has been bucking conventional wisdom about healthy living.

Weil began his career with a bang -- or maybe just a puff -- in The Natural Mind, a book containing ideas that remain controversial today. Most famously, it endorsed the idea of "stoned thinking" (induced not only by drugs but also by hypnosis, meditation, etc.) and identified a bias in traditional studies about mind-altering drugs. The book was fortified by Weil's own experience studying and taking various psychotropic agents, and while it suggested that non-chemical experiences were healthier, it also bore open criticism of American drug policy. Weil continued his exploration of altered mental states with The Marriage of the Sun and Moon and From Chocolate to Morphine (coauthored with Winifred Rosen).

In his next three titles -- Health and Healing, Natural Health, Natural Medicine, and Spontaneous Healing -- Weil turned to illness and alternative therapies, educating readers on then relatively unknown options such as homeopathy, herbal medicine, cranial therapy and other unconventional approaches. The fact that Weil was a Harvard-trained doctor lent his writings credibility and popularity with an ever-widening readership, even as he earned a somewhat heretical status in the world of mainstream medicine.

Some of Weil's views might rile practitioners of traditional medicine -- he has suggested that certain conventional treatments do more harm than good -- but Weil has never advocated abandonment of the medical establishment. Rather, he promotes integrative medicine: an approach to health that embraces nontraditional healing methods and takes the mind and spirit into account when assessing and treating problems. In response to Dr. Arthur Relman's assault in the New Republic, charging that assertions in Weil's books that lacked scientific backing, Weil responded on his web site, "If I had dismissed the successes I saw with [cranial therapy, for example] as ‘anecdotes,' we would not be in a position to take the next step and gather the data that Dr. Relman wants to see. It is important to note that paradigm shifts, in medicine as in other fields, are not quiet affairs. They occasion much screaming and kicking." (To both of the doctors' credits, they engaged in a public debate at the University of Arizona following Relman's much-discussed critique, minus the screaming and kicking.) Whatever the future holds for certain alternative approaches, it is a testament both to Weil's popularity and the growing interest in his ideas that studies of such practices have begun to win funding and attention.

Eight Weeks to Optimum Health was the most complete synthesis yet of Weil's ideas about holistic health and also helped cement his status as a health guru. Unlike most "diets" that focused mostly on meal plans and magical eating formulas, Weil's program is about a balance of nutrients, herbs, exercise, and mental salves such as turning off the news or keeping fresh flowers around. In particular, Weil became a well known expert on the growing field of herbal supplements.

Recently, Weil teamed with Rosie Daley -- Oprah's former personal chef – to create The Healthy Kitchen. The book operates on a bit of push-and-pull between Daley and Weil, with "Andy" offering substitute ingredients to some of Rosie's recipes. As with Weil's other tomes, The Healthy Kitchen does not operate on draconian edicts, offering options for individuals instead.

Good To Know

Weil is director and founder of the Program in Integrative Medicine of the College of Medicine, University of Arizona. Also, his Polaris Foundation advances the cause of integrative medicine through public policy, education, and research.

Weil's parents owned a millinery store in Philadelphia, and his mother fostered his interest in botany. "When you grow up in a row house, there's very limited opportunity to grow stuff, but my mother knew some things from her mother, who was the one with the real green thumb," he told My Generation magazine. "And she did introduce me to growing bulbs in the house, and we had a little plot of ground to garden. That stuff fascinated me. And I always dreamed about the day when I could have enough space to do it."

Weil's undergraduate focus was ethnobotany, which focuses on the uses of certain plants by various cultures and ethnicities. His thesis title: "The Use of Nutmeg as a Psychotropic Agent." Under a fellowship from the Institute of Current World Affairs, Weil traveled from 1971-75 throughout Central and South America to investigate cultural psychotropics and healing. Many of his findings from this time are collected in The Marriage of the Sun and Moon.

Weil lives in Arizona "by pure chance," he told HealthWorld Online. His car broke down in the mid-1970s, and it took so long to fix that he ended up staying in Tucson.

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    1. Hometown:
      Tucson, Arizona
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 8, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Biology, Harvard University, 1964; M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1968
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Healthy Aging


By Andrew Weil M.D.

Random House

Andrew Weil M.D.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0739315064


Chapter One

Immortality

Question: If you could live forever, would you and why?

Answer:
I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever.

--Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA Contest

Our attitudes toward aging and our responses to the changes in appearance that aging brings are totally colored by our knowledge that we are moving inexorably toward death. It is not my intention to write about death or the fear of dying in this book, but I find it impossible to avoid mentioning them as the source of our negative feelings about aging, which are entirely based in fear.

Some species age more slowly than we do, others more rapidly. I have lived with dogs for many years and have watched several canine companions grow up, grow old, and die. As I write, I am looking at a photograph from several years ago of two of my Rhodesian ridgebacks on the front step of my house in southern Arizona. One is a young male, Jambo, who could not be more than a year old in the photo. He is standing--sleek, handsome, with all the vitality of youth. The other, B.T., must have been fifteen, very old for such a large breed. She is lying down, her face completely white. Soon she was unable to get up. I helped her through her decline but finally had to euthanize her a day before her sixteenth birthday.

Jambo is now eight years old, still in his prime, still sleek, handsome, and vital, with a deep, soulful personality that makes him an ideal companion animal. Most people who meet him comment on how good-looking he is, the perfect combination of strength and beauty. Sometimes if I am reading in bed at night, I invite him to come up and sit beside me for a few minutes. If I rub his chest in a certain way, he looks up toward the ceiling, extending his neck in a posture of noble contentment that I find very appealing. But when he is in this position, I cannot avoid noticing the first white hairs on his otherwise black chin. And whenever I see them, I also cannot avoid noticing that there are more than the last time I looked.

I know from experience that this dusting of white heralds the changes to come, that one day he, too, will be frosted with the white of old age; and when I see those signs of aging on his strong chin, I think about the disappearance of black from my own facial hair, about the unalterable passage of time, the relentless change of physical bodies as we decline. I think about the pain of the loss of previous companions, about separation from beings I love and who love me, about my own fear of the end and the sadness that is never separable from the joy of human experience. And all of this has come from the observation of a few white hairs on the chin of my dog.

We all sense the finiteness of life, and we all fantasize about living forever. Is it any wonder, then, that we put so much effort into denying the fact of our aging with cosmetics, plastic surgery, and verbal deceits ("You look so much younger!"), and why we are so enthralled by proponents of antiaging medicine who tell us that we can stop or even turn back the clock?

Immortality is an alluring concept, but I wonder how many of us have thought through its meaning and implications, which turn out not to be so simple. If you lived beyond the normal human life span, what would your life be like? I invite you to look at immortality with me through the lens of biology. Apart from framing this discussion of healthy aging, it will give you a chance to become acquainted with the latest findings of scientists who are studying the aging process. All of the practical advice I have to give you in Part Two of this book is based on this scientific evidence* and grounded in a philosophy that rejects immortality and eternal youthfulness as unworthy goals.

A tension between mortality and immortality is played out on all levels of our being, from our cells to our psyches. Understanding it will help you accept the fact of aging and motivate you to learn to do it as gracefully as possible.


******************


Let's start with immortality on the cellular level. Until 1961, researchers believed that, in theory at least, normal cells, taken from the body and grown in laboratories, should be able to grow and divide forever if their needs were met: if they were provided with a constant supply of food and if their waste products were removed. In that year, Leonard Hayflick and Paul Moorhead at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia demonstrated that this was not so, that all normal cells have a fixed limit on the number of times they can divide in order to replace themselves. This number is now known as the Hayflick limit. Hayflick, currently a professor of anatomy at the School of Medicine, at the University of California, San Francisco, is one of the foremost biogerontologists. His book How and Why We Age, first published in 1994, is the best I have found on the subject. I recommend it highly.

It turns out that the Hayflick limit varies from species to species and often correlates with life span. With a Hayflick limit of about 50 cell divisions, humans are the longest-lived mammals. Mice, which live about three years, have a limit of 15 divisions; for chickens, with an average life span of twelve years, the number is about 25. At the extreme of longevity, the Galapagos tortoise, which can live for 175 years, has a Hayflick limit of 110.

HeLa cells, however, can divide indefinitely. They do not senesce. They continue to grow and divide as long as they have nutrients, oxygen, space, and means of getting rid of their wastes. HeLa cells were the first human cells to be successfully cultured outside the body in large numbers. Given their longevity, they revolutionized biological and medical research and quickly established themselves in laboratories around the world. HeLa cells ignore the Hayflick limit for human cells. In a sense, they are immortal.

I was taught that "HeLa" was composed of the initial letters of the name of a woman, Helen Lane, who was said to be the original source of the cells. This turns out not to have been true. The real source was Henrietta Lacks, a poor African-American woman from Baltimore, whose story only came out years after her cells were growing in prodigious numbers everywhere.

Lacks was born to a family of tobacco pickers in Virginia, moved to Baltimore in 1943 at the age of twenty-three, married, and had five children in quick succession. Then, early in 1951, she noticed she had abnormal vaginal bleeding. She went to a clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where a doctor found an ominous-looking, quarter-sized tumor on her uterine cervix. He biopsied it and sent the tissue sample off for diagnosis. It was malignant. Shortly afterward, Lacks returned to the clinic to begin radium treatments, but before the first one, another tissue sample from the tumor was taken and sent, this time to George Gey, head of tissue culture research at Johns Hopkins.

Gey, with his wife, Margaret, had been trying to find human cells that would grow well outside the body. His greater goal was to study cancer in order to find a cure. Henrietta Lacks's biopsy gave him exactly what he needed. Her cancer cells grew in test tubes as no other cells had ever grown, vigorously and aggressively. Of course, this did not augur well for their donor. Within months, Lacks's tumor had metastasized throughout her body, creating tumors in all her organs until she expired painfully in a racially segregated ward of The Johns Hopkins Hospital on October 4, 1951, eight months after diagnosis. On the same day, George Gey went on national television to announce his breakthrough in cancer research. He held up a vial of Lacks's cells, calling them, for the first time, HeLa cells.

HeLa cells were soon in great demand. The Geys sent vials of them to colleagues, who sent them to other colleagues, and before long Henrietta Lacks's cancerous cells were multiplying in laboratories throughout the world. They made possible the development of the first polio vaccine, were used to study the effects of drugs and radiation, genetic mechanisms, and many diseases, and were even sent off the planet on a space shuttle to see how cultured human cells would grow in zero gravity. If the HeLa cells worldwide were added up, they would total many, many times the weight of the human being in which they originated.

The saga of Henrietta Lacks raises uncomfortable ethical and social questions, because she never gave informed consent for her cells to be used in this way, neither she nor her family was ever compensated for their use (they did not even find out about all this until twenty-four years after the fact), and none of the scientists who worked with HeLa cells ever acknowledged her contribution. But that is another story.

Why can HeLa cells go on living, perhaps forever, when the human being who produced them is long dead and when most cells senesce after a fixed number of divisions? What determines how many times cells from different organisms can divide? The answers are encoded in DNA, our genetic material. DNA is contained in rodlike structures called chromosomes in the nucleus of every cell. When cells are about to divide in order to reproduce and make more tissue, chromosomes have to replicate themselves, so that each daughter cell will have the same genetic information as its parent cell. The DNA spirals that comprise the chromosomes uncoil so that the genetic code can be copied to make duplicate strands, but each time this process occurs, something is lost: a piece of the end of each strand.

Chromosomes terminate in a distinctive region of DNA called a telomere; the name comes from Greek roots meaning "end bodies." Telomeres have been likened to the plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces, but that is not an accurate simile, because there is no cap. Rather, the telomere is a repeating sequence of six "letters" (amino acids) of DNA code--TTAGGG--that might be translated in English as THEEND. This sequence repeats thousands of times in a young cell. The mechanics of DNA replication are such that a portion of the telomere is lost with each cell division. At the Hayflick limit, the length of remaining telomere is insufficient to allow further duplication of DNA strands to occur without serious genetic mishaps resulting. So there is no more cell division, no more reproductive life. Instead, there is senescence and, eventually, cell death.

The discovery of telomeres and their possible relationship with the maximum life span of organisms has been one of the most important advances in the fields of genetics and biogerontology. It has allowed researchers to solve one of the great mysteries of cancer--namely, how cancer cells become immortal and go on dividing until they kill the organism in which they arise. In 1985, Drs. Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn reported the discovery of telomerase, an enzyme that adds more six-letter units to telomeres, making up for their normal loss during cell division. They first found it in a microscopic one-celled animal called Tetrahymena that lives in freshwater lakes and streams and is commonly used in genetics research, but telomerase has since been found in many multicellular organisms, including humans. Although it almost never occurs in normal cells, most cancer cells produce it.

Malignant transformation is a complex process involving the suppression of some genes and the activation of others, sometimes in response to carcinogenic agents, sometimes not. Malignant cells are unresponsive to general controls on growth and development and a threat to their normal neighbors, but it is a long way from malignant transformation of one or many cells to a clinically significant cancer with the potential to kill its host. Many cancer cells die because their genetics and metabolism are hopelessly deranged or because they outgrow their blood supply. Others are weeded out by the body's defensive systems. Those that survive will run up against the Hayflick limit--unless they acquire the ability to produce telomerase. A gene for telomerase expression is present in many cells but is inactive. (I will explain why it's there in a moment.) If a cancer cell manages to turn it on, and thus produce the enzyme to lengthen telomeres, it can divide indefinitely, giving rise to a clone of malignant cells that can eventually become a detectable tumor.

This is what happened in Henrietta Lacks's cervix. HeLa cells owe their unlimited growth to telomerase. Telomerase expression is probably not the only path to cellular immortality, because 10 percent of tumors seem able to rebuild their telomeres without it; evidently, they find some other gene product to achieve the same end. As researchers close in on the fine details of cellular immortalization, new possibilities for cancer diagnosis and treatment may emerge. Detection of telomerase in tissue samples may announce the presence of cancer in its earliest, most curable stages. If we can find a way to suppress telomerase expression--to turn off the gene that controls it--we may be able to render cancer cells mortal again and stop their relentless growth. That may take too long to be a primary treatment, but it may be very useful as a backup approach to prevent metastasis, without the toxicity of conventional chemotherapy.

*For the reader's convenience, a glossary of some of the scientific terms I employ appears after the text.


From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from Healthy Aging by Andrew Weil M.D. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2007

    Healthy Aging

    This book contains a lot of powerful information. While the first section of the book provides a baseline for understanding the aging process, the second section of the book provides almost too much information about living a healthy live. Following the steps in this book, would have a tremendous impact on the health of America. I am especially impressed with the tone of the book which preaches patients need to take responsibility for their health. Not counting on modern medicine to make you live long and well, but taking charge of your health to live a high quality life. Ray Lengel, Certified Nurse Practitioner, Author Health Care Responsibility: The Older Adult's Guide to Surviving the Health Care System.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2006

    Great Book with Good Info and Interesting Ideas

    What's nice about Dr. Weil is that I trust that his 'alternative advice' is well founded, and based on research and experience. I found it heartwarming that he talks about how he is now getting older and knows first hand the realities of aging, even if you do it well, using various alternative and traditional assistances. There is a very interesting chapter on how things get better with age, where he describes many processes (wine, scotch, cheese, meat, and violin aging...) where aging creates depth and value, even though processes associated with degredation are involved. This was very thought provoking and plain interesting reading. There is a lot of great information about things to do to help you age in this book, all of it simply and well stated for ease of use. There are also references for websites to get vitamins and herbs of the quality Dr. Weil says is needed. Wonderful book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2005

    Wonderful read

    I have read and enjoyed all of Dr. Weil's books. This physician integrates western and eastern philosophy in a practical, inspiring manner. This book gave me down to earth nuggets to help me to best deal with the aging process.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2005

    The Fountain of Youth

    I have always enjoyed Dr. Weil's thoughts and insights and here is a collection of information on his latest research. I like his balance in that he doesn't totally disregard the medical community but explains his differences and why chronic processes (like aging) are usually better treated with alternative therapies.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2005

    Way to Go, Dr. Weil!

    Finally, someone understands our bodies change and we need to make adjustments to reap the benefits of a long healthy life. I believe in utilizing all options available, and Dr. Weil realizes the importance of 'the simple things' are really in the end what affects our life most deeply.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2005

    Get Weil!

    Weil's guidelines for agiing in a healthy manner are not exactly new, yet they are worth a reminder and nobody reminds us of what we need better than does Weil.

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    Posted December 5, 2009

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    Posted June 27, 2014

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    Posted March 21, 2009

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    Posted September 11, 2010

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    Posted July 31, 2010

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