More health tips from Dr. Oz

Feb 28 2011 Published by under Medicine

I've heard it said that the internet is 90 percent pornography and 10 percent bad medical advice.   The more I go down the rabbit hole of popular medical sites, the more I wonder if the balance is tipping away from sex.  There are plenty of absolutely bat-guano crazy quasi-medical websites, some of which actually advocate violence in support of their odd ideas.  Of more concern though are popular medical websites giving seemingly benign advice, much of which is wrong or so simplistic that wrong is too kind a word.

Dr. Mehmet Oz's website is popular.  It doesn't get as much traffic as WebMD or MayoClinic but between his website and TV show, he has a lot of reach and influence.  As I mentioned a few days back, I'm skeptical of much of what I've found so far at his website. Today I went over there and found an interesting link: 5 SURPRISING WAYS TO LIVE LONGER IN UNDER A MINUTE.

Before we explore his suggestions, let's talk a little bit about living longer.  As an internist, a big part of my job is helping people live longer and better.  If you want to get the most bang out of your longevity buck, there are a couple of ways to invest wisely.  Most Americans die of heart disease, stroke, cancer, or accidents.  Many of these deaths are preventable, and we've gotten pretty good at guiding people away from premature death.  Helping people stop smoking, controlling cholesterol and blood pressure, and treating diabetes are all relatively simple, inexpensive, and effective.  But these interventions require a real commitment by patients, and people are often looking for easier answers.  Dr. Oz provides those answers, despite their lack or utility or veracity.  According to Oz:

You can’t live forever. However, there are things you can do to live longer and in better health. Increasing longevity is much easier than you think. Here’s the really good part: all of these health habits can be accomplished in less than one minute.

First up, eat eggs.  He gives a number of reasons to eat eggs, many of which are unsupported, and none of which help prevent the main causes of death in Americans. His advice: "Under-a-Minute Tip: Boil a half-dozen eggs in the beginning of the week. Eat one a day and you’re on the road to making a dramatic difference in your health."  I like eggs just fine, but they are food, not medicine.  As part of a healthy diet, one based mostly on plant materials, they can be just fine, but for most Americans, adding an egg-a-day to the diet will not have a dramatically good effect on health.

Next he suggests taking chromium polynicotinate to help prevent diabetes. There is little data on this dietary supplement. Most of the data available for chromium are on the related substance chromium picolinate, and those data are not terribly favorable.  There are, however, strong data to support proper diet and exercise for the prevention of diabetes.

Third up, checking your heart rate.  His suggestion: "Take your resting heart rate before you get out of bed every morning. If it is high or keeps going up every month, see your doctor."  That's not a terribly helpful suggestion, but I'm always happy to see someone to go over cardiac health.

Next up, beets.  I do like beets, especially roasted with a little salt and pepper.  Many people don't think of beets, which are a great choice in trying to develop healthier eating habits.  But they aren't particularly miraculous.  They're just a veggie, despite Oz's claims about them "dilating blood vessels", whatever that may mean.  His tip? "You can drink your beets daily in a nutrient-packed beverage that also contains carrots, parsley and apples. It’s easy and inexpensive to make."  Or you could eat them as part of a balanced meal, one whose calories are supplied by different food groups in a satisfying and healthy way.

Finally, Oz reminds us that stress is bad, and that women like to hold stress in their head and face.  I have no idea what, from a medical perspective, that means, but he recommends self-massage, something I could never argue against, unless it were promoted as life-saving or longevity-enhancing.

It's disappointing to see an influential and obviously bright doctor giving out platitudes rather than real medical advice.  As Stan Lee apparently wrote, with great power comes great responsibility.  I wish Dr. Oz would wield his power more carefully.

15 responses so far

  • mxh says:

    Obviously bright doctor? I'd like to think that anyone who promotes or uses complimentary and alternative medicine (or thinks that there are magic foods that will make you live forever) is not very bright. In reality, I'm he knows where the money is and doesn't care about knowingly misleading people.

  • scigirl2010 says:

    I think you are missing the point with Dr. Oz. He is playing to the general public, not a group of scientists. If he was up there dolling out medical advice as if he was treating a patient, no one would listen. Humans are very resistant to change, therefore, some long health regime is not going to be followed. The general public wants quick and easy fixes. Dr. Oz, in a way, is playing into that mentality (and I'm guessing) with the hope that this will lead to long term change. You have to start somewhere.

    Food is medicine (good and bad) if you are trying to lose weight or combat diabetes. Eat fast food, high fat/carbohydrate foods and both of those conditions worsten. Well, suggest boiling some eggs. Why? Not because they are uber-healthy or some quick cure all. They are food, real food, and guess what? Quick, easy and fast. If you can get your patients to start eating more healthy and get rid of the processed junk food and fast food, you've just come a long way in helping to increase the health of the population. Again, this is about getting people to make changes in their daily lives. Once again, humans resist change.

    Checking your heart rate every morning. You state this isn't a terribly helpful suggestion. You've missed the point again. How many of your patients actually pay attention to and listen to their body? Here is one way to get people to start taking a conscious effort to listen to what their body is telling them. If they start taking their heart rate, then maybe they'll start paying more attention when they have an unusual ache or pain instead of ignoring it. We recommend monthly self-breast exams to women- again, it's about paying attention to your body.

    The beets- again, how many patients do you have that actually eat vegetables? How many of them consider french fries and ketchup to be vegetables?? Seriously, if you could get even half the population to start drinking homemade vegetable juice mixes instead of soda with high fructose corn syrup.. wow.

    Lastly, the whole holding stress in your head and face.. obviously you've never had a medical massage or acupunture. From a Chinese medicine perspective, everything is connected. I can attest to this from having massages to relieve pain in my shoulders and neck, only to discover that my ears and cheekbones are where the real soreness is coming from.

  • A. Marina Fournier says:

    I checked the website which advocated violence, or at least suggested it was likely (had to stop even skimming...ick!), Geez. I think I need a shower now.

    I said it already, I'll say it again, esp. in response to scigirl2010: I miss Dr. Edell's radio program. He DID play to the general public, but he did NOT advocate quick fixes. He was good for busting quackery like this Dr. Oz gives out, and he gave hard truths about changing one's habits for healthier living, when it was needed. He did say that all you had to do to lose weight was to take in less than you put out in terms of calories--not to go on harmful or expensive diets, but just cut back, while still enjoying what you normally like to eat or drink, in smaller portions.

    So, since Dr. Edell has retired, I'm glad you're here to debunk and explain.

    I do carry stress, but not in my face. In my scalp, possibly--I could never manage to relax it while doing progressive relaxation exercises. I don't grind my teeth at night from stress, for which my dentist and I are very happy: enough problems with my teeth already. I carry physical stress in my neck, shoulders, and buttocks. First time I got a full body massage from a professional, I was very surprised to find that area so knotted up.

    Keep the beets to yourself: I'll eat the brussels sprouts someone chose not to eat, as well as the brocolli some president didn't want. Non-starchy vegetables is one area where even my doctors think I should eat as much as I want--as long as any sauces are kept to a minimum, easy for me to do. I hate drowned vegetables and salads.

    Regarding chromium picolinate--tried it when I was a gestational diabetic 18 yrs ago. It made my blood glucose readings HIGHER. I stopped using it, and mentioned it to my diabetologist. She said it was fine for sugar addicts and alcoholics who weren't diabetic, but not so hot for diabetics, as I had discovered.

    I find that most X easy steps to Y to be either commonsense, or, in the case of chronic hard core insomnia not caused by disease or medication or personal habits, to be utter bunkum advice. I belong to a community called InsomniaLand with more hardcore insomniacs than I've met before in my life, and many of us have the same sad stories about trying this, that, and the other, including sleep meds, only to be disappointed. Nothing seems to work for any of us consistently. In my case, benzodiazepines (sleep meds) keep me awake. The host has kept a list of all the various "cures" and the like that people have suggested will help--it's over 100 and counting.

    Do save us from the platitudes of others: I get enough of those in my life that make me roll my eyes and close my ears.

  • chall says:

    Best advice imho? "Take a walk for 15 mins a day" I mean, not that it would make a huge thing for some people, but for most of the people I see on a daily basis it would make a difference.... 15-30 mins walk a day and they would get their body moving. that's exactly how little people walk/move where I live (southern US).

    As for the advice you found. I guess the eggs would be "high in protein and low in fat" and therefore be better/keep you less hungry and not snack fatty/sugery things? Although, the best advice for many would be to exchange foods; not add on top...

    That said, I liked Dr Oz early on. Now, I fear that he's ended up on the road where many famous people go....

  • daedalus2u says:

    The only advice I can think of when I hear the name Oz, is the advice from the other one, appropriate for this one too.


  • Pascale says:

    If beets are the key to longevity, I would rather die young.

  • mxh says:

    Pascale, I actually like beets (except for the bloody-looking stool you get afterwords).

  • I really like beets too...roasted skin-on in the oven. Root veggies in general rate high on my list.

    I'm also a fan of "self-massage," but not exactly the type of massage Dr. Oz recommends....

  • daedalus2u says:

    There is another quote that also fits. When Dorthy scolds the Wizard (for sending her (a young girl) on a suicide mission to kill the most powerful and dangerous Witch in Oz) she calls the Wizard "a very bad man", to which he replies, "Oh, but I'm a very good man, I'm just a very bad Wizard".

    Dr Oz may or not be a bad man. He is certainly a very bad doctor. If he were a better man, an honorable man, a respectable man, he wouldn't make his living being a very bad doctor.

  • Linda says:

    I never paid attention to Dr. Oz until I developed a neurological condition and noticed that he sometimes mentioned it. I hoped to learn something, but the advice he gives about it is just terrible! If I listened to him, I wouldn't be doing nearly as well as I am with my neurologist. He talks like he's an authority on it, but he's obviously not.

    It makes me wonder what other diseases he's giving poor advice about.

  • Gladys Vazquez says:

    I think he's just following the yellow (gold) brick road.

  • daedalus2u says:

    What someone who has more skill than me (which isn't saying much) at doing video editing should do is splice a tape of Dr Oz with scenes from The Wizard of Oz when Dr Oz gives bad medical advice and then explain why it is bad medical advice.

  • carlygold says:

    When Dr. Oz broke onto the national scene on Oprah, the very first thing he talked about was bowel health/constipation. He actually said that your stool should be S-shaped when it comes out because your sigmoid colon is S-shaped. Well, yes the sigmoid colon is generally S-shaped but if the stool was molded solid in that shape and had to pass through the straight rectum while maintaining that shape, we would all be quite miserable with each BM! He has never corrected this and his writers have continued to include this bit of health "awareness" in subsequent articles such as in Men's Health last year.

  • Dave says:

    seems he is nothing more than a political tool of the Leftists