Obesity, diabetes, even Alzheimer’s: Dr Oz claims they’re all preventable, and now his cult American TV show is coming to Britain
21:30 GMT, 31 August 2012
Dr Oz is the most watched doctor on American television. His shows are utterly compulsive. He draws you in by telling you simple but powerful truths – how to lose weight, how to live longer, how to look younger, how to have a better sex life.
'Use turmeric, cinnamon and ginger to speed the metabolism, more sweet potatoes to lose weight,' he says, as if he's the first person ever to have said it. Millions follow. He presents science with empathy and thoughtfulness. He makes healing entertaining.
A Harvard graduate and heart
surgeon, Dr Mehmet Oz first came to prominence on TV on Oprah, and he
comes from the same self-empowerment stable. Like Oprah Winfrey, the US
talk show host and philanthropist, he connects to his audience
Dr Mehmet Oz in action on his programme, the Dr Oz Show
shows might be about the five foods to avoid to get rid of belly fat.
Or sweet potatoes and inner thighs. Apples with cinnamon for combating
If Dr Oz
recommends green coffee extract for speeding up your metabolism, you can
be sure every vitamin shop will rush to stock it. His word is revered
because he makes complicated things simple and impossible challenges
Now his show, an Emmy-winning success
in the US, is coming to Britain. How is he going to tailor it to us
'The UK is unique in many ways. It's at the same time extraordinary and
ordinary,' he says when we meet in his Manhattan office.
human beings have basic creature comfort issues. Things we're all
concerned about, like how do we lose weight. It's how you interpret the
information that's important and the UK is appropriately sceptical.
Dr Oz appearing on Oprah and on the front of Oprah Winfrey's magazine
find British people insightful and demanding and they need smart
content. I feel that if you can pass muster with the British audience it
automatically attracts interest from the rest of Europe.'
A citizen of both America and Turkey (he was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but his parents are Turkish), Dr Oz is a supporter of holistic medicine.
He likes to combine conventional treatments with alternative therapies such as energy healing and hypnosis.He still performs heart surgery one day a week.
'The vision for the show was my wife
Lisa's [a reiki healer]. As a heart surgeon I'd see people who could
have avoided surgery if they'd had information a few weeks earlier.
'My wife got tired of me complaining,
so she said let's do a programme that shows people what's really
happening in their bodies. Don't do it in a prescriptive way, do it in a
way that allows them to appreciate how sacred their body is, how they
can control their destiny.
'Second Opinion With Dr Oz started in 2003, and my first guest was Oprah Winfrey. I was a nobody doing a show on health but she felt it was important to get people to appreciate that the body is the temple of the soul.
'Then she had me back on her show and we did 13 more slots, which got good ratings. I learnt a lot about TV from Oprah and a couple of years ago she said, “You’re ready.” She wanted me to do a new show of my own and she sponsored it.'
Anything that has a bright pigment – such as colourful fruit and vegetables – is protecting itself from oxidation and therefore jam-packed with anti-oxidants, which provide a safety net for inflammation
He's also the writer of seven bestselling books and an avid public speaker who oversees his own extremely comprehensive website. A recent New York Times article said he was single-handedly responsible for increasing sales of magazines who put him on the cover, including Time and Oprah magazine.
Does he practise what he preaches 'I eat more than seven vegetables a day and I never have soft drinks. I never have anything in my office that's bad for me.' He points to a large bag of nuts on his shelf.
'Like all humans I have weaknesses. Last week I had this incredible salt caramel ice cream. I'm afraid I ate the whole thing.'
His first UK show is about sexual famine. 'Most people in the western world don't make sex a priority. Sex is a vital part of our health.
People who have more sex live longer. We had to convince the British authorities our intent was right so we could talk explicitly about things without censorship.
'We didn't want to be sensational. We have some animations that cost $1,000 a second but they're worth it. They show how the body reacts during sex and games you can play – what really works.'
'People who have more sex live longer. We had to convince the British authorities our intent was right so we could talk explicitly about things without censorship'
Does he use tricks in his own sex life 'You have to. I didn't wander across them by accident.'
He maintains that sex, stress and overeating are all linked. He's all about tackling obesity in Britain, and indeed the world.
number of people who will die this year from illnesses acquired from
obesity will pass the number who die of starvation. Famine used to be
why people died. Obesity is primarily related to stress, and your body
responds to stress as if you're in a famine by having you eat lots of
things you don't even like.
brain sees calories but it doesn't see nutrients so it makes you
overeat. French fries are the number one cause of obesity in Britain.
Yet you can bake sweet potato fries that are really good for you.'
'The number of people who will die this year from illnesses acquired from obesity will pass the number who die of starvation. Famine used to be why people died'
I tell him people don't want to bake potatoes, they want fast food. But he counters by telling me he's written a guide to meals at most fast food chains that contain less than 300 calories.
Today he’s concerned about the new discovery that diabetes and Alzheimer's are inextricably linked.
'In many ways Alzheimer's is the diabetes of the brain. It's an inflammatory condition that arises because your body isn't able to keep up with what it's processing. If you have a battery factory that needs energy you're going to have toxic chemicals that come out.
'You have to get rid of them to make the energy. If you can't clear the toxic chemicals, you’re making a toxic dump out of your factory, which is what diabetes and Alzheimer's both do. You can get rid of it in numerous ways.
'Sleep is pretty effective, and eating colourful fruits and vegetables. Anything that has bright pigment is protecting itself from oxidation – rusting. So we need antioxidants. They provide a safety net for inflammation. Alzheimer’s and diabetes are not a natural part of ageing. They are absolutely addressable.'
Drop white food from your diet and you will automatically lose weight, says Dr Oz
He grabs a tape measure from his desk and starts measuring me saying, 'If your waist measurement is more than half of your height you are at risk of diabetes.'
He tells me I should be taking 'cinnamon and chromium to start combating it right now. And vegetables, fresh or frozen.'
A final question. How can I drink ros wine and lose weight I think I've got him, but in the world of Dr Oz all things are possible.
'It should be a good ros, and you should drink it late in the meal. Wine is a disinhibitor, which means you eat more things you shouldn't. Start halfway through so it becomes your dessert.'
He doesn't want to stop there. As he's leaving he says, 'Cut out white foods. You will automatically lose weight.' He loves these one-liners; simple, powerful facts that work on many levels.
The Dr Oz Show, weekdays at 7pm from Monday, Discovery Home & Health.