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A closer look at Dr. Oz’s 15 Superfoods

I’m sure I’m not the only health professional that bites their tongue whenever a patient starts a question with “I heard on Dr. Oz that…” More often than not, I have expectations to realign, and some assumptions to correct. I could easily devote all my posts to simply correcting  information presented on the Dr. Oz show. But given I’m blogging here biweekly, and Dr. Oz has a daily television show, I’ll never be able to catch up. So while my first choice in topics isn’t to add a post to our extensive Dr. Oz archives, I often end up, like many other health professionals, needing to respond to his shows shortly after they air.

Should you happen to be someone that has never seen the Dr. Oz show, Dr. Mehmet Oz is an Oprah protégé who has gone on to build a health media empire that is possibly the biggest vehicle for health pseudoscience and medical quackery on television. Whether it’s promoting homeopathy, recommending unproven supplements, or advocating ridiculous diet plans, there seems to be no health subject too dubious to endorse. Oz has established an impressive track record of providing highly questionable health advice. A few months ago I examined his absurd endorsement of green coffee beans, followed by his dubious “clinical trial” of green coffee beans that likely didn’t meet minimal research ethics standards. Then there was the weight loss “miracle” (his words), red palm oil, which followed the same episodic formula of breathless hyperbole backed by questionable evidence. One of the meta-trends of the Dr. Oz show are weight loss secrets – typically gimmicky interventions, supplements and therapies that he promotes as panaceas for obesity.

What frustrates me the most about Dr. Oz is that he should know better. He’s a heart surgeon, (who continues to treat patients), an academic, and a research scientist, with literally hundreds of publications to his name. He has gone through the peer review process more times than most health professionals. There is little reason to expect, based on his pre-television history, that he’d be willing to build a platform to offer demonstrably bad health advice. And that’s a shame, because with a show in 118 countries that reaches over 3 million viewers in the USA alone, it could be a powerful tool for providing good health information to those seeking it. And more often than not, that opportunity is squandered.

Another meta-trend on The Dr. Oz  Show is the list. (Actually that’s not just Dr. Oz, it’s more of an internet trend, with websites like Cracked solely devoted to lists.) Sure it’s linkbait, but it works, and these lists of health-related topics are shared via social media. So if this list didn’t already appear on you Facebook wall, you may see it soon, titled Eat Yourself Skinny!

It may seem too good to be true, but the key to weight loss is right in your grocery store. These 15 superfoods can rev your metabolism, whittle your waist and leave you looking and feeling better than ever.

- Dr. Oz

Superfoods. I both love and hate the term. I’ll put my business degree hat on first. It’s genius. Who has time for perfectly adequate foods, or even good food? Superfoods are what you need to be consuming. Can’t you just picture yourself fitter, happier and more virtuous? The pseudoscientific bookends to vitamins and supplements, superfoods are touted as the simple dietary cure. The real genius of the term is that it has no established definition. Here, superfoods are products that “rev” your metabolism and “whittle” your waist. The implication is clear – consuming them will have magical effects – you eat, you still lose weight, and you look and feel wonderful. What could be wrong with foods like that?

So now I’ll put my pharmacist hat on. Superfoods are pure marketing speak, meaningless nutrition woo like “detox”, “clease”, “immune boost” and pretty much every other word you’ll see in the advertising from a naturopath or nutritionist. Claims are usually based on anecdotal information, or information extrapolated far beyond the scientific evidence. Rather than help dietary decisions, designing what you eat based on “superfoods” can make meal planning more complex, with consumers focusing on single ingredients rather than overall dietary choices. There’s a fad component too. Pomegranates and acai berries were superfoods, but now they’re out. We can only eat so much food in one day, and superfoods are a compelling term used to shape our food purchasing decisions.

So with this in mind, let’s take a look at Dr. Oz’s list of superfoods, and his claim that they are the “key to weight loss”:

#1. Beans

Dr. Oz claims: “Ignites your fat-burning furnace”, 50% of calories are not absorbed, reduce blood sugar, “may burn fat faster”

Reality check: There’s no clear evidence that establishes bean consumption will cause you to preferentially “burn fat”, though they may help with controlling blood sugar. Oz is partially correct with respect to his calorie counts, as the usual 4 calories/gram of sugar rule isn’t accurate when it comes to fiber. But it’s only these calories that are overestimated, not the entire calorie count for the food. Still it’s hard to argue with increasing your consumption of beans which are nutrient-packed, high in protein, and low in fat. Whether they promote weight loss, however, hasn’t been established.

#2: Pine nuts

Dr. Oz claims: “Help suppress hunger”; contain pinolenic acid, which in a clinical trial “was associated with a reduction in food intake by 36%”.

Reality check: Pine nuts (which are actually seeds) are delicious, but they’re also calorie-rich, owing to their fat content. (A tablespoonful of pine nuts provides 60 calories). I could locate no published clinical trials that have studied pine nuts directly. The “36% reduction in food consumption” claim seems to come from an paper presented at the American Chemical Society National Meeting that used daily doses of 3 grams of pinolenic acid (supplied as the oil) in 18 overweight volunteers. It does not appear to have been published, peer reviewed, or duplicated. Given pine nuts are usually consumed as part of a meal, and not as a pre-meal supplement of the oil alone, it’s difficult to see how relevant this research is to everyday weight management.

#3. Fennel tea

Dr. Oz claims: “Cleansing”, “boosts digestion”, “resets taste buds”, reduces fat storage, “squash morning hunger pangs”

Reality check: There is no credible evidence demonstrating that fennel can do any of these things. Like many herbal remedies, side effects have not been systematically studied, but it’s generally considered safe when consumed as a food. While it’s most popular for promoting lactation, its effects have not been established, and is also considered potentially unsafe for that use.

#4. Crimini mushrooms

Dr. Oz claims: Meaty flavour cuts the fat when mixed in meat-based dishes.

Reality check: I can’t argue with Dr. Oz here. Crimini mushrooms are tiny portobellos. If you like mushrooms and want a meat substitute, mushrooms are a reasonable alternative. Nothing super about them, but they are low-calorie and nutritious.

#5. Apples

Dr. Oz claims: When eaten pre-meal, the pectin reduces the subsequent sugar and calories that are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Reality check: Apples are delicious and most varieties are reasonably low in calories. Pectin is a soluble fibre that gives a gelatinous consistency to products like jams and jellies. I could find no published information that demonstrates that apple or pectin consumption reduces subsequent calorie absorption, though there is some evidence suggesting pectin supplements can have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels.

#6. Avocados

Dr. Oz claims: The monounsaturated fats are “are healthy sources of energy to keep you going all day long.”

Reality check: Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats and that seems to have positive cholesterol effects. They are a source of energy – quite a bit of it, with about 300-400 calories each. As a source of nutrition they’re an excellent part of your diet, as long as you keep in mind the total calories.

#7. Raspberry ketone

Dr. Oz claims: This product regulates adiponectin, a protein that causes “the fat within your cells to get broken up more effectively, helping your body burn fat faster.”

Reality check: Come on Mehmet. You were doing reasonably well, only to veer off into rank pseudoscience with your favorite “miracle fat-burner in a bottle”. Setting aside the fact that raspberry ketone isn’t really a “food” at all (it’s formulated synthetically), the scientific evidence doesn’t back up these claims. There are no human studies that substantiate these statements. It’s supplement snake oil.

#8. Chili peppers

Dr. Oz claims: Capsaicin “curbs your appetite while you eat” and “raises your body temperature, which may boost your metabolism.”

Reality check: Oz is suggesting that chili peppers will independently change the heat production of your body, confusing capsaicin’s effects on pain receptors on tongues, for actual thermal energy. There is the hypothesis that capsaicin supplements may have some effects on calorie burn, but it’s not clear that the modest increase is the same as eating chili peppers as part of a typical diet. Chili peppers are delicious though, so if you like them, go ahead and eat them – just don’t expect that hot sensation to mean you’re burning away calories.

#9. Vinegar

Dr. Oz claims: “Slow the absorption of carbohydrates” and “slows the passage of food through your stomach, keeping you fuller for longer.”

Reality check: Vinegar is an old folk remedy, its main ingredient is acetic acid (the usual home supply version is 4-8% acetic acid in water). The best evidence I could find to substantiate Oz’s claim of satiety was a study in 12 people given white bread and vinegar. As an unblinded study, not much can be concluded. There’s also a small study suggesting vinegar may enhance insulin sensitivity. So while there’s no evidence to suggest it will “rev up” your metabolism or aid in weight loss, if you like the taste of vinegar or pickled foods, enjoy. Just don’t expect you’re losing weight doing so.

#10. Cinnamon

Dr. Oz claims: “Slows the passage of food through your stomach” and “lowers your blood sugar levels by stimulating glucose metabolism.”

Reality check: Cinnamon supplements have been studied in diabetics and beneficial effects have not been established. There is no evidence to demonstrate that cinnamon has any beneficial effects on weight in people with or without diabetes. If you like it, eat it. But cinnamon won’t negate the calories you’re eating it with.

#11: Chia seeds

Dr. Oz claims: The soluble fiber has “cholesterol-lowering properties and prevents the absorption of fat”

Reality check: Chia is an herb, eaten for its seeds, which are a good source of fiber and the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. A single-blind study showed chia had no effect on weight loss, though it may improve some risk factors, like cholesterol, in those with diabetes. Given alpha-linolenic acid is poorly converted to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), if you’re looking for cardiovascular benefits you’re better off getting DHA directly via cold water fatty fish. So while chia is a reasonable addition to your diet, there is no evidence it has any special ability to support weight loss.

#12: Green tea

Dr. Oz claims: Contains EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) that “increases the hormone responsible for making you feel satiated”; “can help prevent storage of excess fat”, “improve your appetite-regulating hormones” and will change how your body handles cravings and metabolizes food.

Reality check: Green tea is brewed from the non-fermented leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It contains a number of biologically active ingredients which are believed (though not established) to be a panacea for nearly everything. With respect to weight loss, a systematic review of green tea for obesity concluded that green tea has no meaningful effects, and a Cochrane review concluded that any effects are “not likely to be clinically important”.

#13. Pepitas (pumpkin/squash seeds)

Dr. Oz claims: “Seeds have been shown to decrease the body’s ability to store fat”; the protein and magnesium “helps curb cravings and strengthen muscles”; “Eat 1 cup of seeds a few times a week.”

Reality check: Pumpkin seeds, like other seeds, are nutrient and energy dense. One cup of pumpkin seeds has about 700 calories, which is about the same as a Double Big Mac (albeit with less fat and more fiber). Three cups of seeds a week could easily exceed an entire days’ worth of calories. There is no published evidence to suggest that seeds block fat production or retention in any meaningful way that could assist with weight loss or weight maintenance.

#14. Red lentils

Dr. Oz claims: “these legumes will help you stay fuller for longer.”

Reality check: Hard to find fault with lentils which are both nutritious and high in fiber which might contribute to satiety. While no “superfood”, they are a staple in many diets – I prefer mine as daal.

#15. Watermelon

Dr. Oz claims: “Women who ate water-rich foods lost 33% more weight in the first 6 months than women on a low-fat diet”; contains vitamins A, C, “as well as the ‘mother of all antioxidants,’ glutathione, which is known to help strengthen the immune system.”

Reality check: For a fruit that’s so delicious and is mainly water, watermelon has a lot of nutrients too. The study referred to is this paper which compared a low-fat diet to a low-fat diet with more fruits and vegetables. The group randomized to fruits and vegetables lost about 5lbs more than the other, an increase of 33% at the six month mark (the difference narrowed by one year). So while the study is reported accurately, it is not a trial that studied watermelon, or that studied the effect of fruits and vegetables alone.

Conclusion

Oz’s latest list is a mix of both reasonable and silly dietary advice that repeatedly overstates the evidence, while ignoring the biggest determinant for obesity: calorie consumption. The list reinforces the rule that information presented on the Dr. Oz show cannot be taken at face value.

Posted in: Nutrition

Leave a Comment (120) ↓

120 thoughts on “A closer look at Dr. Oz’s 15 Superfoods

  1. Egstra says:

    “I’m sure I’m not the only health professional that bites my tongue …”

    I’d think you’d know if other health professionals bit your tongue. Other than that, good article!

  2. You are just jealous 100 million people watch Dr Oz and 100 disgruntled retired medical people read this blog.

    There is nothing wrong with the foods he recommends. For weight loss purposes I would add raw celery, you actually burn more calories digesting it than you get out of it. Celery is awesome diet food.

    1. FBA, usually I ignore you, but there is no such thing as a negative calorie food. You’ve just demonstrated your ignorance one more time.

    2. ariaflame says:

      Projection much? Mind you someone with the name ‘fastbuckartist’ might get jealous at someone bilking people out of money easier than they can.

      The author didn’t say that the foods were poisonous or anything like that, he just said there was no evidence that they were superfoods (if that word actually meant anything real) or did nearly as many things as has been claimed.

      In terms of dieting, the only ‘diet’ I would do would be one that I could consider staying on for life. Because that’s what diet should mean. The food one eats. If it isn’t what you would eat forever, then skip it, because it’s a fad, not a healthy diet.

      Unless you have a significant medical condition, the safest and surest method of losing weight is to gradually increase exercise and to reduce your portion size (without going to the ‘starving yourself’ count every calorie extreme). Eat a little less. Increasing the ratio of fruit and vegetables wouldn’t hurt, but they don’t have to be wonderfoods. Exercise a little more. Gradually it should come off in a safe and steady way.

      1. OK I admit it, I am envious of Dr Oz financial success on his excellent show! :)

        Actually I admire his total freedom, I understand as a cardiology specialist he was in a tight jacket of what words he’s allowed to speak to the patient and has 1000 pages of rules of what he can and cannot do in the surgical practice.

        On the show, he can say what he really thinks and recommend any treatment without a zipper on the mouth appended by the american college of cardiology.

        1. Andrey Pavlov says:

          Jeez! Even basic facts escape you. He is NOT a cardiologist. He is NOT a member of the American college of cardiology. He is a cardiothoracic surgeon. They are COMPLETELY different things. And where is this thousand page book of all the stuff we can and can’t say to patients? I’d love a copy as I’ve never even heard if it. And I am a member of the American College of Physicians and the American Thoracic Society. Maybe I need to wait till I learn the secret hand shake and get my decoder ring.

          I mean, aren’t you the least bit bothered that you so confidently blather on without even knowing or understanding the simple differences between a cardiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon? How can you not be averse to writing things without even taking 5 servings to google them?

        2. earl says:

          On the show, he can say what he really thinks and recommend any treatment without a worry for evidence of actual efficacy or safety of what he recommends.

        3. Marion says:

          And I admire whatever drug companies’ freedoms (as restricted as they are by a multitude of laws) to sell and promote what drugs they want to help people with disease and pain. I admire it.

    3. Celery as a negative calorie food is a myth.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_calorie_food

      The only real negative calorie ‘food’ is cold water or ice. Zero calories, and then the calorific cost to raise up to body temp. (Even ice is pretty marginal)

      1. By the time you grabbed the celery sticks off the grocery shelf and moved to the checkout you already burned more calories than you’ll get from eating it.

        1. Andrey Pavlov says:

          I once surfed, cycled 50 miles, and then went skiing all in one day and finally ate a gigantic hamburger with cheese, bacon, pulled pork, bbq spare ribs, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and onion with Ortega chilies and loss of bbq sauce. But I burned about 3000 calories getting to that burger.

          Guess it was a negative calorie food.

          It was definitely super though. Super awesome and super tasty.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          …and in order to eat sufficient celery to lose a meaningful amount of weight, one would end up dead of malnutrition.

          You’re the best fake doctor ever!

    4. Paul de Boer says:

      I’m pretty sure that is a myth.

      1. Is it a myth if you include the calories you expend lifting that massive jug of water that people sometimes carry around?

    5. Calli Arcale says:

      FastBuckArtist — I am a reader of this blog. I am not disgruntled, retired, nor a medical person. I’m a happy, full-time employed, software engineer. So while 100 disgruntled retired medical people might read this blog (though I’ve no idea how you’d even find that out short of a survey), it’s certainly read by other people too. ;-)

    6. Nashira says:

      I would rather eat my snack while standing on my head than eat celery. I am trying to lose weight, not praticing mortification of the flesh.

    7. @FBA

      Here’s a link in case you think I made that up.

      http://articles.latimes.com/2002/oct/07/health/he-eating7

      It comes from the Berkeley Wellness Newsletter but I couldn’t find their link. This is a summary from the same source.

    8. Denise says:

      Hm. “Superfoods” vs. “nothing wrong with them”. Did you miss the point?

    9. David Gorski says:

      You are just jealous 100 million people watch Dr Oz and 100 disgruntled retired medical people read this blog.

      Actually, it’s more like 20,000 unique visits per day. Not on par with Dr. Oz, obviously, but definitely not too shabby. Because Scott takes on Dr. Oz in this post, it wouldn’t surprise me if this particular post gets the most views for the month of September, even though the month’s almost over. :-)

  3. Beamup says:

    IMO it was completely predictable that Oz would turn out to be a complete quack. You can’t marry a reiki “master” and not end up internalizing the woo.

    1. David Gorski says:

      Worse, these days, Dr. Oz appears to be drifting to the antivaccine camp, thanks to his wife:

      http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/01/13/regarding-dr-mehmet-oz-whoops-maybe-i-sp/

  4. Thanks for a rundown on Oz’s offerings, but there’s nothing here to help me with the opening query I so often hear: “Dr. Oz, who is a practicing cardiologist, says…”. Do you think those who watch are going to be persuaded by “there is no good evidence…”?

    More needs to be said about Oz’s empire and motivation. He needs to be publicly challenged about the conflict of his medical practice and his TV show. I’m amazed that so many of the people who are “too busy to cook” have time to watch Oz’s show–while they munch on Doritos, followed by some green coffee bean extract (or whatever form the stuff comes in) to assuage their guilt.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      It’s not material to your point but merely because I just tire into fast buck artist for it, he is not a cardiologist. He is a cardiothoracic surgeon, which are two very different things.

      But yes, it truly is scary. I actually fact checked myself to make sure I want wing about the cardiologist thing and it saddened me even more. He was inTime’s 100 most influential people in 2008 and Esquire called him one if the 75 most influential people of the 21st century. And apparently he had a show on reparative therapy for homosexuality. Disgusting.

  5. Laurence C. Fitzgerald says:

    The article loses a lot of its effectiveness due to very poor editing. When criticizing someone for intellectual and academic transgressions, it’s important to not have typos, bad grammar and misspellings. Your assessment of Dr. Oz is correct, but I can’t share the article because it is so poorly edited that your mistakes will draw too much attention from your points.

    1. Really?? Grammar rule; use a comma after “and” since you have more than 2 examples. So it should be “typos, bad grammar, and misspellings.” Because of your bad grammar, I cannot use your post as well. Such is life I guess.

      1. Calli Arcale says:

        Comma usage in lists is actually a controversial topic among grammarians, few of whom will admit that there is a controversy as all of them are convinced their choice is correct. ;-)

        1. Carl says:

          The best argument against the Oxford comma seems to be some kind of belief that we are saving virtual ink if we can find excuses not to use a comma. I don’t know why that thrills anyone.

        2. AngryAthiest. says:

          http://matthewhance.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/untitled.bmp

          I think this is the best reason to use the oxford comma.

      2. Nashira says:

        I hate to say it, since I love me some Oxford comma, but it is not universally accepted as mandatory. I’d be okay saying other people were wrong for not using it, but high doses of prescriptivism make me all itchy.

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma

      3. Laurence C. Fitzgerald says:

        I only use the Oxford comma when it is necessary to avoid ambiguity. It wasn’t in that case, so I didn’t.

        When being critical of someone else on a scholarly matter on the internet, I believe it’s incumbent on the critic to not only be correct, but to write well.

      4. Anna says:

        As others have pointed out, rules regarding the serial comma vary from style guide to style guide. However, if you’re going to be a pedant, you would do well to be extra meticulous in your usage of grammar — in which case I would strongly advise against splitting infinitives.

    2. While Fitzgerald is overly critical, he has a point–one that I found myself making in my head as I struggled through this–yes–poorly edited piece.

      On the other hand OldManJenkins is just purely pedantic. Comma rules vary according to style manual in use and the post has way more wrong with it than a comma or two.

      I agree that it is difficult to pass this post on in its published condition. Nothing personal, as I like Dr. Gavura’s work very much (love the Weekend Posts), which is usually free from such sloppiness.

      1. Was not being pedantic. My point to the poster (Laurence C. Fitzgerald) was that just because there are grammatical errors does not by itself disqualify the article. I too was identifying Laurence C. Fitzgerald for being overly critical. I apologize if this was missed on the readers. And as Chris posted “I would say that this is not an academic journal paper and written in the author’s unpaid free time.” And don’t worry, I’m not “that guy.”

    3. Chris says:

      I would say that this is not an academic journal paper and written in the author’s unpaid free time.

      One of the editors of this site despises grammar pendants. So try not to be this guy in the video that he posted on his not so secret other blog.

    4. Windriven says:

      LCF-

      While I would prefer the blogs here to be tightly edited and grammatically pristine, the bloggers volunteer their time. There are no copy editors.

      If you have identified a specific error, use the contact link in the header and bring it to Dr. Gorski’s attention. But if all you’ve got is a misplaced comma, prepare yourself for an invitation to bugger off.

      As to the use of commas in series I believe that most grammar nazis would expect consistency. Use a comma after ‘and’ – or don’t. But be consistent.

      Mr. Gavura’s blogs are invariably cogent, thought-provoking, and often entertaining. Those who would discount his work because of a few misspellings dismiss a cornucopia for a blemished grape.

      1. Mal Adapted says:

        Few writers produce perfect first drafts, and re-writes take time. Bloggers who carefully craft each post severely limit their output. Your Mileage May Vary, but I prefer to read posts that have at least passed a spell-check.

  6. Calli Arcale says:

    “claims are usually based on anecdotal information, or information extrapolated from from the scientific evidence.”

    I wouldn’t be so generous. The claims are based on marketing every bit as much as the word “superfood” is. They pick the claim first, based on selecting a target market. Anecdotal information and/or tenuous scientific connections are then associated with it to dress the claim up a bit and make it look more respectable. The science is usually barely relevant, if that, and the anecdotes may be distorted or even wholly fabricated.

    The original basis of the claim is often something really stupid, like a particular businessman’s wife having heavily invested in pomegranate growers who aren’t turning enough of a profit. The rest is just window dressing.

    BTW, about pumpkin seeds, the calories you quoted are for shelled seeds. If you like eating them in the shell, the caloric content of a cup goes way down, since the shell basically just trundles through the gut and out the other end (as it’s designed to do; that shell is meant to allow the seed to survive being eaten). However, they’re usually heavily salted, so there are sodium issues to consider.

  7. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    You are just jealous 100 million people watch Dr Oz and 100 disgruntled retired medical people read this blog.

    My word, you’re an idiot.

    Scott is upset that 100 million people watch a qualified heart surgeon give out fallacious advice based on incredibly poor studies that attempts to convince them they can solve their health problems through magical ingredients rather than face the reality that weight loss is a difficult, long-term investment of time and effort that often requires addressing the inherent meaning of food to the person, their socioeconomic status, their work-life balance, their relationship with their spouse, children and parents, as well as a recalibration of what a healthy meal is.

    I can understand why you like Dr. Oz, because your customers just eat up your promises of magical cures and he reinforces these beliefs. There is nothing wrong with the foods he recommends, they are all essentially in compliance with the USDA dietary recommendations (raspberry ketones being a notable exception as they aren’t a food). The problem is they won’t magically make you lose weight. Eat three thousand excess calories from pumpkin seeds, you will gain a pound of fat. Do that every week, at the end of the year you not be 50 pounds lighter, you will be 50 pounds fatter. It’s deceptive, cheap television that obscures a medical and biological reality.

    It’s not jealousy, it’s frustration at the fall of an obviously smart man into pseudoscience, and concern about the implications of the advice he gives for the millions of people who might follow it. For instance, all the people with type II diabetes who decide to use cinnamon instead of exercise and weight loss to control their disease.

    You’re just happy he exists because he helps you pad your bottom line.

    1. You’re just happy he exists because he helps you pad your bottom line.

      I am happy he exists as he shows to the public there is a way to take care of their health without outsourcing it to predatorial drug-pushing allopathy. It’s brilliant marketing direct-to-the-consumer AND a public service. Mehmet Oz is a public example of transformation of medicine – away from drug-based allopathy and toward Integrative Holistic Practice that puts patient first.

      The modest benefits to my bottom line are just gravy on top.

      1. TwistBarbie says:

        “I am happy he exists as he shows to the public there is a way to take care of their health without outsourcing it to predatorial drug-pushing allopathy. It’s brilliant marketing direct-to-the-consumer AND a public service. Mehmet Oz is a public example of transformation of medicine – away from drug-based allopathy and toward Integrative Holistic Practice that puts patient first.”

        One would probably end up swallowing a great deal more pills (be they vitamins, minerals or other drugs*) by following Dr.Oz than by seeing most science-based physicians.

        *Most of the “natural remedies” out there are still “drugs” by most definitions and many of them are produced by Big Pharma.

      2. “without outsourcing it to predatorial drug-pushing allopathy.”

        Instead you outsource it to witch doctors and shamans. Is that somehow progressive?

        I have pretty close to zero respect for the naturopathic profession. In fact, as I’ve disclosed elsewhere my wife is a medical doctor. Not only do I think naturopathy is – generally speaking – stupid. I’m constantly scrutinized by an allopathic doctor (and her family which contains several allopathic doctors) How is it that I’m not taking any drugs? (outside of perhaps one 400mg dose of ibuprofen a month).

        If you expect that engagement with allopathy results in drug use then seeing the reverse must weaken your assertion.

      3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Except he’s not helping people “take care of their health”, he’s selling them magical solutions that don’t work. You don’t think someone’s not going to eat half a chocolate cake then down a bottle of raspberry ketones in the belief that one cancels out the other? You really think people are going to focus on the difficult, less flavourful options like lentils and beans rather than the magical solutions? You don’t think his practice of selling supplements, which let’s not forget are pills made by the drug industry, differing only in their completely lack of proven efficacy, is really that much different from drug pushing?

        I’ll grant you it is brilliant direct-to consumer advertising, but it’s not a public service. It’s deception. It’s not putting the patient first, it’s putting Mehmet Oz’s ego third, it’s putting his audience size second and it’s putting his ability to sell ad space first. But oh, no, those awful, greedy drug companies, they’re worse, because…they have stock options?

  8. I believe Dr Oz was probably a “closeted” altmed proponent given that his wife Lisa Oz is steeped in woo “Oz’s wife, Lisa, is described as a master of Reiki, a form of energy healing” (Wikipedia page). I believe he also probably had a propensity for woo as he stated in an interview with The Root “Meet the ‘Faces of America’: Dr. Mehmet Oz” he indicated he (Dr Oz) “He has been influenced by the mysticism of Sufi Muslims..” So if anything this show has given him a vehicle for which to spew this nonsense uncontested. It would be the same as setting up a debate and then having only people for one side of the argument attend.

    In my opinion his apparent turn to “total woo” discredits him as a practitioner. I would not send my enemy to him for any cardiovascular services given his apparent ability to uncritically accept anything.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      It is no secret that he had a Reiki master cat magical spells over his patients as he did surgery on them many, many years before suppressing on Oprah. Something a classmate and good friend of mine was rather surprised to learn. You see, this classmate actually worked with him at Columbia when he (my friend) was doing actual research there. He had less than favorable things to say about Oz as an person and researcher, but didn’t feel he was overly woo-ish at the time. It seems he compartmentalizes and want evangelical about his BS in the past.

  9. Also FTC has a Red Flag Bogus Weight Loss Claims page:
    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/redflag/falseclaims.html

    A claim is too good to be true if it says the product will…

    Cause weight loss of two pounds or more a week
    for a month or more without dieting or exercise

    Cause substantial weight loss no matter what or
    how much the consumer eats

    Cause permanent weight loss (even when the
    consumer stops using product)

    Block the absorption of fat or calories to enable
    consumers to lose substantial weight

    Safely enable consumers to lose more than three
    pounds per week for more than four weeks

    Cause substantial weight loss for all users

    Cause substantial weight loss by wearing it on the
    body or rubbing it into the skin

    1. Calli Arcale says:

      I can think of a few products that actually could do all of those things (provided we ignore the word “safely”). However, they’re things like ricin and botulin they do this through the rather unfortunate side effect of killing the patient…..

  10. stanmrak says:

    All you’re proving here is that you have no understanding about nutrition, except what you can look up in ‘scientific’ studies, which you interpret as ‘truth.’ Comparing pumpkin seeds to a Big Mac demonstrates this quite well.

    1. Carl says:

      Maybe I’m just getting bored with this guy, but it seems like Stan isn’t putting as much effort into his idiocy as he once did.

  11. Oz could be a completely science based nobel prize winner, but I’d still resent him for cluttering up my FaceBook feed with his adds. More Takei, Less Oz. I say.

    1. egstra says:

      SBM really needs a like button!

  12. Woo Fighter says:

    Dr. Oz allows and in fact recommends a “reiki artist” in his operating room. One of his business partners sells reiki; Oz appears on her website endorsing her and her reiki practice. And yes, she’s a colleague of his wife who also sells reiki services (as another commenter pointed out above).

    A few months ago Oz had a “medical intuitive” on his show, essentially a psychic who diagnoses mysterious ailments that doctors are not able to pinpoint. He even offered a free reading to one viewer who posted the most compelling story on the show’s Facebook page.

    There was an excellent expose of Oz in The New Yorker earlier this year, outlining his descent into woo. Oz’s own father, a doctor himself, is said to be bitterly disappointed by the path his son has chosen. His wife’s family, on the other hand, a long line of woo salespeople. are said to be thrilled.

    Oz has interviewed homeopaths and recommends homeopathy. He’s also interviewed Eric Merola of Burzynski infomercial fame.

    Oz’s mentor, who trained him in cardiology, said he wouldn’t recommend any patients go to Oz for any sort of heart surgery these days as he only spends one day a week in the hospital. Even David Letterman picked up on this quote and devoted a “Top-Ten List” to the subject.

    Who can blame him for foresaking hospital work? His syndicated show earns his over $10 million a year.

    What a waste of a medical education.

    Orac wrote a scathing column on his blog about Penn & Teller’s disappointing and hypocritical appearance on the Oz show debunking medical myths. That column got him thrown out of Penn Gilette’s bacon party at TAM this summer.

    At least he doesn’t appear on camera pretentiously wearing scrubs anymore.

    1. Woo Fighter says:

      Make that Penn Jillette.

      Should have checked the spelling of his last name before posting. It didn’t look right.

    2. David Gorski says:

      Oz has interviewed homeopaths and recommends homeopathy. He’s also interviewed Eric Merola of Burzynski infomercial fame.

      It’s even worse than that. He’s interviewed faith healers as though they could actually heal and recommended psychic scammers like John Edward and the Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo as valid option for grief counseling.

  13. Woo Fighter says:

    Here’s the Letterman Top-Ten list. Sorry, I couldn’t find the video after a quick online search.

    Late Show: Would You Hire Doctor Oz?

    In the February 2013 issue of the New Yorker magazine, a doctor who hired Doctor Oz in 1985 said that he would no longer send his patients to the TV doctor, who may be distracted with his media empire. Could your doctor be distracted as well?

    David Letterman: Top 10 Signs Your Doctor Has Gotten Rusty

    ■10. Tries to guess your weight.
    ■9. Always carries a hacksaw and a bottle of scotch.
    ■8. Tells you to open your mouth and say, “Ahmadinejad.”
    ■7. Seems more focused on his career as a doctor-themed stripper.
    ■6. Wonders aloud, “What would Dr. Conrad Murray do?”
    ■5. Always suggests he “kisses it to make it better.”
    ■4. Instead of colonoscopy, draws sketch of your colon.
    ■3. Uses defibrillator to make waffles.
    ■2. To every question, he replies, “Let’s Google it.”
    ■1. Asks you to turn your head and call him sometime.

    1. @ Woo Fighter

      I’ll see your 10 and raise you 10

      - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

      Top 10 Signs That We May Be Losing The War On CAM

      10: Deepak Chopra’s new urine therapy book, The Way of the Whizzer,
      is a New York Times bestseller.

      9: The NFL’s sports medicine program agrees to let CAM researchers move
      the goalpost to wherever they damn well please, so there!

      8: Fresh off her neti pot adventure, Harriet Hall coughs up surprising
      truths about vastra dhauti. (look it up)

      7: Doctor of Naturopathy degrees are awarded randomly as prizes in boxes
      of Cracker Jack. Cracker Jack sales zoom.

      6: A study of the anxiolytic effects of acupuncture in New World
      porcupines has been funded by NCCAM’s new veterinary unit.

      5: The books Alternative Medicine for Dummies, and the Complete Idiot’s
      Guide to Alternative Medicine are merged and retitled as You’d Have to
      be a Complete Idiot to Think Alternative Medicine is Strictly for Dummies.

      4: Saline IVs at all hospitals are required by federal law to be
      available in the patient’s favorite brand of sea salt.

      3: Yale neurologist secretly starts a new movement, Seance Based
      Medicine…

      2: …and ghostwrites a book about it, in the form of a novella.

      1: Those frickin’ ear candles just won’t go away.

      1. Harriet Hall says:

        I don’t get the vastra dhauti comment. Please explain.

        1. Harriet, your neti article was rational, so I had thought that in an absurd and fictional realm I’d have you veer off writing about an implausible Eastern cleansing practice.

          1. Harriet Hall says:

            OK. I get it now. Thanks.

      2. Woo Fighter says:

        You win. Those are hilarious! I merely regurgitated Letterman’s list; you came up with original material. Congrats!

        Re #4, though: it would have to be Himalayan pink salt. Some lunatic recently posted something about “water therapy” on Orac’s blog and stressed that the HPS is a crucial ingredient because “it vibrates at the same frequency as the human body.” People actually believe this crap.

        1. angorarabbit says:

          And the Himalayan pink salt is pink because it’s 100% pure. It’s so pure it only contains pure minerals.

          I know this is true because the nice lady at the HPS store told us so with great sincerity. It took all our self-control to vacate the premises before dissolving into laughter vibrations.

      3. @DevoutCatalyst – Good One!

    2. At last! My canned response to Oz fans!

      Thank you so much. :-)

  14. corky says:

    Why does Oz say what he does? Money and fame. He does not really care about patients, he cares about money and fame. He wouldn’t get very many viewers if he did not promise them miracles. How many people would watch his show if he was honest with them? How exciting is it to be told that you need to exercise and eat right? It is way more fun to be told about miracle cures (and there are no shortage of those so the show can go on forever, because none of them work so you always need another!)

    While many of the foods on the list are good things to eat anyway, they will not cure what ails most people. Pointing out that pumpkin seeds have the same caloric content as a big Mac is a good comparison. I know many people who are into seeds and nuts, but have just ADDED them to their diet without realizing the calorie content.

    I would love to have someone explain the vinegar thing to me. I have had SOOO many people tell me how a tbsp of vinegar a day has cured whatever. How can adding a small amount of acid to the acid in your stomach cure anything? Why has this persisted so long?

    1. Woo Fighter says:

      In the twisted logic of alt. loonies, vinegar is actually alkaline (I swear I ‘m not making this up…)

      And as all good alt. loonies knows, no dis-ease can survive in an alkaline environment. And the body gets more acidic as we age.

      My religious uncle got more Chasidic as he aged.

      1. Ceridwen says:

        I’ve always been the most confused by the people who claim vinegar cures their heartburn. Can’t tell you how many times I had it recommended when I was pregnant.

        1. TwistBarbie says:

          The rationale behind the vinegar for heartburn thing is that if your heartburn or indigestion is a result of food just sitting there in your stomach (because of inadequate stomach acid secretion) the vinegar would help you digest. I’ve never actually looked into this, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard from several pharmacists. The part I never understood was why they always insisted on apple cider vinegar, if you just need the acidity white vinegar would be your best bet.

          1. Chris says:

            “apple cider vinegar”

            That is because apples are magical. They are natural and good for you. Which is why the “natural baby care” book suggested using it to provide fluid with the kid has diarrhea.

            Then in the emergency room after the kid had seizures from dehydration that I was told that apple juice is the worse thing you can give to a kid. Apparently because it is a laxative, but applesauce is okay because it still has pectin.

            Though somehow I have trouble thinking that ascetic acid being equivalent to hydrochloric acid. (recently finished Gulp! by Mary Roach, apparently the HCL does dissolve the stomach after death, because it can repair the damage)

          2. huh? Vinegar dressed salads often give me heartburn…I suppose that just means it’s working. ;)

      2. Kathy says:

        And my aunt (the one who went into a convent) got more and more ascetic and acid as she aged.

  15. angorarabbit says:

    If I could add to Scott’s great post? Whenever looking at SuperFood lists, I always ask the reader to consider what the SuperFood is displacing. That is, is it what the person is eating or is it what they are no longer eating? None of the epi studies distinguish between these, which is where many of these sorts of claims come from.

    Looking at Oz’s latest list (which amuses me that next year the list will be very different – wonder which industry trade groups are paying him?), we see that:

    Beans (1) and Red lentils (14) are great protein sources and displace meat proteins or processed meats. That’s a win as they have lower fat content. They also have a high fiber content, which slows stomach emptying, blunts serum glucose rise, and creates satiety.

    Fennel (3) and green teas (12) could lead to drinking more of these calorie free drinks as opposed to junky soft drinks or sugar-laden teas. So tea over soda!

    Nuts including (2, 11, 13) have a high satiety factor as compared with junk food like Doritos (dearly as I love Doritos). So they can be as calorie-laden as chips, but one tends to eat less due to the higher satiety. So nuts over chips!

    Eating that apple before the meal makes you fuller so you eat less of the meal. And it’s lower in calories.

    Ditto for adding any fruit or veggie to the meal (hopefully without silly sauces or salt) including the criminis, avocados, or watermelon. They add bulk and are generally lower in calories than the foods they displace, like fries.

    So if a person adds these to the diet, I’m thrilled, even though the rationale is screwy.

    The cinnamon thing is a bust. Last year two students in seminar unknowingly picked opposing papers, one showing cinnamon delayed stomach emptying, and the other could not reproduce it. The students were at first horrified but we turned it into a learning lesson that a single paper may well not be right, but requires independent replication.

    And flavoring with chili is better than flavoring with salt.

    At least Oz isn’t the complete wack-job that Weil is. And his advice tends to be better than some, meaning I don’t totally cringe when he opens his mouth. But our nutrition specialists sure have to do a lot of clean-up work every time he makes another one of his twisted nutrition announcements. It do get tiresome.

    1. Chris says:

      “Ditto for adding any fruit or veggie to the meal (hopefully without silly sauces or salt) including the criminis, avocados, or watermelon. They add bulk and are generally lower in calories than the foods they displace, like fries.”

      Something I have been doing for years, mostly due to one veggie adverse child (who is now a 23 year old six foot tall bean pole, as a child he hid his veggies in a hole in the wall used to route stereo cables). The sloppy joe mixture is buffed up with carrots (as is the beef bourguignon), the scalloped potato with ham includes mierpoix (onion, celery, carrot) in the white sauce, and if I am allowed to make spaghetti sauce it contains spinach! I am in the midst of turning apples from my yard into very thick applesauce (close to apple butter), but then I need to mix two meatloaves bulked up with mierpoix. Not so much with the salt, or chili, it has lots of freshly chopped rosemary (three huge shrubs of the stuff!).

      That applesauce is commonly used to replace oil and egg in muffins. But I have so much I am going to have to get creative to get it into savory dishes. Those trees are being thinned lots more next summer! Tomorrow much of this year’s crop is heading to the food bank, along with some very prolific hot peppers.

      Oh, and this article reminds me of another “superfood” bit I read in a flyer from our local organic food grocery store very early this summer: cherries. The guy said to eat at least a cup (or pint) a day. That would be lovely if they weren’t also a laxative. I love fresh sweet cherries, and when they are in season I get to spend lots of quality time on the porcelain throne while the cherries clean my colon.

    2. Calli Arcale says:

      “And flavoring with chili is better than flavoring with salt.”

      But garlic is the best of all. ;-) And doesn’t seem to set off my GERD like chili pepper does. I really like spicy foods, but unfortunately they tend to bite back. One interesting thing I’ve had happening in recent years, since going on proton-pump inhibitors, is that when I eat stuff with a lot of capsaicin in it, I get the hiccups. Very sudden, powerful hiccups, that pass as the burn fades. This makes conversation difficult (or at least awkward, as when I open my mouth to speak I can no longer muffle the hiccups), so I have had to avoid spicy foods at parties.

  16. Firstly I like this article and agree with you on the super food (I like my legumes as houmus on sour dough).

    However I feel that your statements on calorie control for weight lost are potentially
    misleading. The kinds of weight loss found in RCT is disapointing to say the least. For example a Cochrane review of studies in diabetics found

    “1.7 kg (95 % confidence interval [CI] 0.3 to 3.2), or 3.1% of baseline body weight among 517 subjects” (1) 2.6 kg (95% CI 1.9 to 3.3) at two years for prediabetic people (2) and n = 573; MD -1.93 kg; 95% CI -2.96 to -0.89; for women who had given birth for a diet and exercise program (3).

    To be clear, this is not a literature review, these are the first things that popped up on Cochrane and this refers to weight loss, and the picture for obesity prevention might be better than treatment once it has occurred however I do feel that a two rosy picture of weight loss is painted by doctors and medical researchers who assume it must work, without really considering the evidence that maintainable weight loss for the vast majority of people is very minimal without surgical intervention.

    I’m not an expert but my $0.02 from my understanding of the literature is that unless you are extremely motivated, or willing to undergo surgery and the effects of having either a stomach size reduction or a banding procedure that weight loss is likely to be very small and that they are probably better off focusing on other end points such as blood pressure, blood lipids or fitness measures all of which are likely to important to CVD and diabetic outcomes.

    (1) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004095.pub2/abstract
    (2) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005270/abstract
    (3) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005627.pub3/abstract

  17. Ford says:

    Given the typical nonsense and often harmful advice the man spouts, this list is actually rather decent, and he even gives half credible reasons.
    No one is going to suffer or waste much money on this advice.

    1. Dprang says:

      Yes, it is a decent list… regardless if the foods do not in themselves cause weight loss.
      I believe this article is saying to rethink ‘super foods’ but there is nothing at all wrong nutritionally with these foods apart from including a supplement for raspberry ketones.
      I do not always watch Dr Oz, but in 2009 he had a show which included alternatives to sugar… so off I went to look for a decent STEVIA supplement.
      That started me on a health mission to reverse my diet controlled diabetes that reared its ugly head 16 years prior.
      I like to believe we are all discerning adults able to find out information regarding supplements without relying on any and all quick fixes.
      I like a lot of what Dr Oz talks about, but I would never take unknown expensive supplements that promise weight loss. We lose weight by utilizing a healthy diet free of junk and processed foods, minus artificial & GMO ingredients, exercise and live in balance as best we can do.
      I have lost all my weight since 2009; my diabetes was gone after 1 year; I have more energy and enjoy eating whole foods…..all this as a budding senior.
      I owe Dr Oz as he pointed out the way and I did the rest.
      Behind every successful man, are many ready to jump all over him.
      I would sooner watch Dr Oz than all the crappy reality shows, at least it is informative enough to get one thinking.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Why use stevia, why not just use sweet ‘n low? Or just get used to unsweetened coffee? And the guidance to eat mostly unprocessed food and few junk foods is quite mainstream, one you didn’t need Dr. Oz to tell you about as your doctor should already have done that. That’s rather the point – Dr. Oz’ whole schtick is that he mixes conventional, science-based, mainstream advice with wholesale nonsense, making it hard for people to tell the difference without a whole lot of background knowledge.

        Rather than portraying it as a choice to watch Dr. Oz or reality TV, why not just watch less TV, or something completely different?

        Why are you afraid of genetically modified crops? GMO usually works by inserting a snippet of DNA to code for a protein novel to the food. Normally, you already eat that protein elsewhere. Remember antifreeze tomatoes? The protein was from arctic fish; eat the fish, eat the protein. Are you afraid of arctic fish? Ditto Bt, which is now found in corn, and Bt itself is actually approved as an organic pesticide. Eat organic food? You eat Bt! Why is it worse when it’s made by a plant rather than sprayed on top?

        But congratulations for losing weight, and good luck keeping it off. Regular exercise is supposed to be the best tool for maintaining a healthy weight, once it is reached. And it has a host of other benefits unrelated to weight loss!

  18. I have done a bit of work on in vitro digestion of pastas substituted with various soluble fibres, and I would surmise that some of the high fibre foods quoted could *conceivably* reduce the effective digestibility of other foods they were eaten with by increasing the digesta viscosity.

  19. Stephen H says:

    Who is this “Oprah” of which you speak?

  20. ^^FBA – Yeah what nut would want to restrain a brilliant surgeon with rules. Screw hand washing, gloves, gowns, stitching things up properly, etc. I mean a knicked pancreas, sponge left in a body cavity or a bit of extra bacteria never hurt anyone, right?

    Surgery, it’s really more of a “creative” field than a technical one, eh?

  21. stanmrak says:

    If you’re still wondering why people give up on “science-based medicine”, scroll up and read the comments once more.

    1. Mal Adapted says:

      Are you referring to “science-based medicine” the health-care strategy, or SBM the blog?

  22. Vicki says:

    The article seems well written and reasonably edited to me. It might have benefited from another proofreading pass, but so might almost everything on the web.

    Fortunately, I don’t think Clay is asking you to share his article. But Wikipedia can always use more copyediting help. (Seriously: it’s one of the things I do when I have some spare time and focus.)

  23. Vicki says:

    I have to ask:

    Reality check: Apples are delicious and most varieties are reasonably low in calories.

    What varieties of apples are not low in calories? Is this just that a big apple has more calories than a small one?

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        So…about as much an apple as you are a doctor then.

  24. Kelli Roig says:

    I see I’m not alone in my concern over the “recommendations” of this Dr. Oz. I really think that he believes he’s the “Real Wizard.” As a health professional, I spend a considerable amount of time correcting the misconceptions and flat out nonsense my clients and patients pick up from this physician.
    Perhaps if we all get together we can detour his nonsense before more of our clients and patients get hurt.

  25. Kelli Roig says:

    I see I’m not alone in my concern over the “recommendations” of this Dr. Oz. I really think that he believes he’s the “Real Wizard.” As a health professional, I spend a considerable amount of time correcting the misconceptions and flat out nonsense my clients and patients pick up from this physician.
    Perhaps if we all get together we can detour his nonsense before more of our clients and patients get hurt.

  26. fxh says:

    I am curious about the negative calorie count obtained by eating celery.

    If I am trapped in the jungle with only a container load of fresh celery to eat.

    How long will it take me to eat myself to death, given I get negative calories each time I eat celery?

  27. Mark says:

    WOW! Are you a paid shill by Big Pharma or are you just completely ignorant of natural products? If you want studies and documented literature go to Orthomolecular.org or http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed. You will not find anything giving validity to anything natural that threatens Big Pharma in the Journal of the American Medical Association or the New England Journal of “Medicine. These have become complete jokes and are just an extension of Big Pharma.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      See http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/answering-our-critics-part-1-of-2/
      #1, 11, 16, 17

      The journals you cite are among the highest quality journals with the most rigorous standards for publishing studies. If they haven’t given validity to natural remedies, the most logical explanation is that those remedies don’t work or that the submitted studies were too flawed to merit publication.

    2. Woo Fighter says:

      WOW! Are you a paid shill by Dr. Oz or are you just completely ignorant?

      Food cannot cure any disease except malnutrition.

      You completely missed the point of this article.

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Orthomolecular medicine is discipline based on a flawed premise – that if some vitamins are necessary, a whole bunch are good. They aren’t. In some cases, notably the water soluble ones, they are merely excreted (though you can still acutely overdose). To get more than the usual blood levels, you have to give megadoses through IV or bolus injections. For fat soluble, the excessive levels can build up in the body to be chronically high, possibly dangerous levels. They can also be acutely toxic.

      In some rare cases, high doses of vitamins can have a medicinal effect – vitamin C is an antihistamine in sufficient doses, niacin can lower blood cholesterol (at the risk of hepatotoxicity). But these effects are specific. Vitamins are not panaceas, and the “more is better” approach is invalid.

      The very profession you are criticizing, medicine, is also the source of many of the criticisms you are making of it. Medicine is not perfect, but does aspire to be self-correcting. For instance, Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma draws almost totally from the medical scientific literature to critique the impact of Big Pharma on medicine.

      And, of course, the flaws of real medicine doesn’t mean made-up, unscientific, dogma-based orthomolecular medicine is true. It just means real medicine needs to improve. Orthomolecular medicine, meanwhile, needs to justify its practices and central premises through well-controlled trials, not merely by criticizing real medicine and pretending that means they are right. If orthomolecular medicine is right, if megadoses of vitamins is such a wonderful cure-all, why do controlled studies fail to find this? Why do they find that chronic supplement use can cause harm? You may claim “bias” and “Big Pharma”, but this completely ignores the fact that the primary manufacturers of vitamins are large pharmaceutical companies – the very Big Pharma that you are criticizing stands to gain if vitamin supplements are proven to prevent disease.

      So maybe you stop swallowing what the orthomolecular doctors tell you without criticism. After all, they’re after your money too, unless you get their services and supplements for free. I bet you don’t. I bet instead of those cheap generic vitamins you can get for a couple bucks at the grocery store, they try to sell you their own in-house brand that’s something like five to twenty times the price.

      1. Dan Hackam says:

        Here here, William.

  28. armadeus says:

    Well- Im not defending Dr Oz. However, measuring his food claims with the current mainstream measuring stick of Western Medicine is hogwash. Just remember…current Western Medicine practices and dietary beliefs are responsible for the fattest American population in history. I personally quit listening to my doctor and found success by eating a plant based whole foods diet including many of the above mentioned food items. I lost fourty pounds and compete as a high intensity athlete. So…as for the article…sounds like you too dont have a clue what “superfoods” can do for the body. I bet you are willing to prescribe a shopping cartload of pharma though- eh?

    1. Woo Fighter says:

      Another one who missed the point.

    2. weing says:

      @armadeus,
      I guess your doctor was telling you to eat fast foods in large amounts and drink sugary soft drinks, to avoid fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains. He probably told you exercise was a waste of time too.

      1. Egstra says:

        “He probably told you exercise was a waste of time too.”

        No such luck… my blood pressure went up and my MD didn’t even give me any pills, just told me to buy a pedometer (one like his, btw). So not fair!!

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I would suggest that Americans not following the recommendations of the USDA and mainstream medical advice is what is responsible for the fattest American population in history. Advice that would probably tailor quite nicely with your eating habits, though they might have some cautions about iron and B12. Do come back if you develop anemia in the next five years or so, that’s about how long the liver’s stores of each last.

      I would venture that “superfoods” can do pretty much what “food” can do – prevent you from dying of starvation and provide you with nutrients. Eat too much of it and you will get fat, the opposite of what Dr. Oz tells you they will do. And raspberry ketones aren’t “food”, they are a synthesized chemical extract.

      1. Dan says:

        Agreed. There really is no such thing as a ‘superfood’. There is only food – quality and quantity. No food is a lifesaver. No food is an (immediate) killer – unless you count puffer fish that has not been properly prepared by a famous Japanese chef.

        About the iron and B12 – agree with the B12, that needs to be supplemented – but unless you are a menstruating female, there is very little evidence that vegans are more anemic than their meat-eating counterparts, so long as they eat a diet that is high in non-heme iron.

  29. Dan says:

    Sorry, very little evidence that they have more iron deficiency anemia.

  30. OlegSh says:

    It’s hard for an average Joe to understand evidence-based medicine, because it involves the process of critical thinking.
    We have here a pure case of argument from authority logical fallacy- “Dr. Oz said” is becoming the ultimate truth.

    I can easily understand those millions of his watchers – they just need to seat on a comfortable coach, turn on their big screen HDTV, take a pack of chips in one hand, beer or coke in another and enjoy the show.

    What is more compelling – Dr. Oz’s advises are very simple and don’t required any hard work of thinking – just buy another food/supplement and you’ll be fine!

    I see only one way to fix it – improve education level in public schools. I know it’s easy to say, but I don’t know a better solution.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I don’t know if it’s purely up defined in terms of the laziness of consumers. Unless you’ve got a lot of free time and a fair bit of background education, you pretty much have to trust. I see Dr. Oz’s actions as a betrayal of the trust society puts in him because he is a doctor, not so much him taking advantage of credulous rubes. It’s particularly difficult because of his mixture of good, solid, reasonable health advice and information on how the body works, with the most ridiculous nonsense.

      Improving education in public schools might help – but think of the sophistication required to realize Dr. Oz is wrong? You have to understand clinical trials, biology, chemistry, ethics, research methodology and more, just for some of the basic stuff (let alone the complicated specific questions).

      1. OlegSh says:

        Well, at least more educated people will not take health advises from the TV show and bring their concerns to doctors.
        Also, education may help with obesity – it’s not a sophisticated topic, just the first law of thermodynamics.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Heh, more educated people might be worse off since they think they have the ability to critically evaluate Oz’ claims. They might, if they understand the rationale of clinical trials, and why each aspect (control groups, randomization, large N, publication, and placebo) is necessary. The biggest group of CAM consumers in the US, as far as I understand it, are middle-class, educated, white women. Of course, the education is usually not in medicine or the hard sciences.

          The first law of thermodynamics rules us all indeed, but there are some…tricks? involved. Knowing what triggers satiety versus sugar swings, knowing that fiber, in addition to making your pooping more enjoyable (and yes it is, you are all liars if you say otherwise), is a zero-calorie food, knowing that exercise is a brutal way to lose weight (but a good way to keep it off) and above all knowing that diets are worthless – you have to change your relationship to food for the rest of your life. There are some ways to eat, feel full and still lose weight, but they usually involve lots of raw fruits and vegetables rather than candy bars.

  31. I couldn’t help but think of this video from ZDoggMD while reading your intro, so thought I’d share. I need to break up some of these negative comments with a fun rap about Oz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvRzWUQQfIg

  32. Kat says:

    Thank you for this article! I just posted the other week about four “MIRACLE WEIGHT-LOSS CURES” from Dr. Oz.

    The issue is not only that he is well qualified and obviously intelligent. It’s that he comes off as so caring, so empathetic, so sincere. That he genuinely just wants to help people live their best lives no matter their circumstance.

    It’s what makes his show and his actions all the worse. It’s complete duping and trickery of the public and doing it under the guise of real care for them. It’s heart-wrenching, really.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      That’s a decent blog you’ve got there.

      1. Kat says:

        Why thank you! I put a lot of heart into the posts so I appreciate it a ton!

  33. Phil says:

    People get past all the marketing of gimmicks to sell you more gimmicks… Calorie intake controls weight and physical output controls health. If you want to lose weight, eat less of what you currently do. If you want to be healthy, get out and move more than you have been… pretty simple? – Cheers.

  34. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I have posted on my website, shared with friends and twitter fans alike. I can spend half a day just trying to refute the latest Oz claim. Appreciate your humorous, yet professional, approach to this. A fan of YOU for sure! Tammy

  35. Love your post. I have always wondered how Dr Oz, can get away with shilling such products, and people take his word as gospel.

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