“I’d love to see something about the latest hype out there. For example, I heard that Dr. Oz was telling people that red palm oil is a miracle weight loss food and now health food stores can’t keep it in stock. It would be interesting for you to sort out truth from fiction on some of these trendy foods and/or supplements.”, requests Enlightened Eater Facebook fan, Alison Smiley.
Separating the truth from fantasy can indeed be a tough task, Alison, especially when you’re dealing with someone like Dr. Mehmet Oz. Health professionals with bona fide credentials, such as Dr. Oz, who intersperse science with fiction make it very difficult to see that they are essentially snake oil salesmen.
Dr. Oz is indeed a cardiac surgeon and someone who did seem to want to communicate legitimate science way back when he became a medical expert on Oprah. But somewhere along the line – maybe when he got his own show – he decided that ratings were more important than translating medical and nutrition research into valid advice.
If you watch and listen to the words or phrases he uses, hyperbole is the only way to describe it. “Miracle cures”, “revolutionary products”, “cutting edge”, “secret”, and “stop the aging process” are just a few examples of Dr. Oz’s favourites.
Burn more calories is turned into “ignite your metabolism” or “turbocharge your metabolism”. And with the visual power of television, he fires up a ferocious torch to signify how red palm oil quickly burns fat.
It is amazingly seductive to many. But unfortunately, most of it is science fiction.
Dr. Joe Schwarcz, in his Montreal Gazette column, evaluated Dr. Oz’s red palm oil episode. I love his conclusion where he states “As is usually the case with Oz’s miracles, there is a seed of truth that then gets fertilized with lots of verbal manure until it grows into a tree that bears fruit dripping with unsubstantiated hype”. Schwarcz refutes each of the miracle claims one by one.
There are a few key words that should raise red flags for you when you’re hearing about a new product and trying to decide if you should believe it or not. And most of them are those that I described above as being Dr. Oz’s favourites – “miracle cures”, “revolutionary products”, “cutting edge”, “secret”, and “stop the aging process”.
Simply put, there are no secret or miracle cures. If they were indeed so amazing, they would certainly be well known. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
It’s very easy, though, to be fooled by the promoters of various products. They may show you studies which demonstrate the benefits of that expensive supplement or food you should be buying. But the research may not be worth the paper it’s written on.
Firstly, to check on the validity of research, you need to check out whether it has been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. This means that the study design is evaluated by other scientists who are experts in the area that is being investigated. It’s no guarantee as we’ve seen in a growing number of studies but currently, it’s the best guidance we have right now.
Checking out supplements on the internet can sometimes be even more difficult. The number of sites selling an assortment of products seems to grow by the day.
Here’s some great advice on how to check out a website from the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institute of Health.
Are you a fan of Dr. Oz? What are your thoughts on what he promotes? Please share in the comment section below.