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This Is America’s “Health Guru”?

Posted Jan 11 2010 10:03pm

DrOz-OprahEven if you’ve never seen an episode of Oprah, you know who Dr. Oz is.

His daily television show debuted in September and, apparently, many magazine editors and television producers are under the assumption he is the only person who can answer any health question.

Although Dr. Oz is certainly one of the most skilled and knowledgeable cardio-thoracic surgeons in the country, he is perceived to be — and markets himself as — a one-stop shop to all your health questions.

Whether you want to know about germs, sexual health, diabetes, anti-aging, skin care, or nutrition, he’s got the answer.

Or does he?

I have always been very vocal about the fact that while he is definitely not a quack — and has a basic grasp on nutrition — I often find Dr. Oz’s dietary advice  to be shockingly inaccurate, misinformed, or misleading.

A visit to his show’s website earlier today, for example, revealed two pieces of information so wrong I could not believe what I was reading!

First up — Dr. Oz’s “go vegan challenge!” page, where he dispenses tips for anyone interested in going vegan for 28 days (I’ll take this opportunity to say I’m so over all these tired 28-day plans).

In any case, here is one gem:

“Vegans should take a multivitamin and B12 supplement to ensure they are getting enough protein.”

Huh!?!  I don’t even know where to begin!

The notion that vegans should take a multivitamin makes the ridiculous assumption that they couldn’t possibly get all their nutrients from food.  As with any other diet, it depends on the quality.

Some omnivores’ diets provide enough nutrition, others don’t.  “All vegans need multivitamins” is untrue and unfairly paints vegan diets with a “nutritionally inadequate” brush.

I do agree that some vegans can benefit from B12 supplements, but why not mention that vegans can get B12 from nutritional yeast as well as fortified dairy alternatives and breakfast cereals?

What truly shocked me — because it is so off-the-mark — was the idea that vegans should take a multivitamin to ensure they get enough protein.

Not only do multivitamins not provide protein — there is also no reason whatsoever for vegans to supplement extra protein in their diet.  Grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and vegetables all contain protein.

Then, on his “sugar-free in 28 days” page, Dr. Oz promises to help people kick their “addictive” sugar habit.

How does he do this?  By recommending agave nectar.

Once again: WHAT!?!?!

Agave nectar has as many calories as sugar, and nothing about it is inherently healthy — or healthier than sugar.

Sure, it is slightly lower on the glycemic index, but the fact remains that replacing the sugar in your morning coffee with agave is not a healthier or lower-calorie choice.

To make matters more confusing, agave is described as “high in calories”.  It’s not.  It is just as caloric as sugar.

My wish for 2010?  When it comes to matters of nutrition, let real experts have the floor, Dr. Oz.

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