Dear Dr. Oz,
I rarely watch Oprah, but today I scheduled it in, knowing that you would be talking about how to lose weight without counting calories. I was hoping the solution would be a high-fiber diet, which it was. You shared that the average American only consumes 7 grams of fiber in his/her food a day, and should be getting between 25-35 grams to lose weight, prevent diabetes and bowel disorders, as well as lower the risk of cancer.
You even showed some people who were put on a raw food diet of fruits, vegetables and nuts for a week, and how they lowered their cholesterol by 25%, their blood pressure by 10%, and lost an average of 10 pounds - in a week!
So that was good. I couldn't have been more excited to hear a renowned and popular expert such as yourself convey the same information I have spent the past 10 years trying to get "out there".
Unfortunately, after the first 5 minutes of the Oprah show focused on fiber, things got confusing. In the second piece you shared was how consuming a megaload (1200 mg/day) of calcium will help you lose weight. You showed footage of a study where a young man ate a ridiculously high amount of dairy foods to lose weight. The study revealed the calcium from the foods did help in weight loss, but you applied the results to calcium supplements as well - which have not been found to abet weight loss (not to mention other studies on dairy foods and weight loss have had mixed results). Also, you didn't mention that dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt have no fiber, which you had just emphasized as vital for weight loss. Nor did you add that dairy foods in the United States are loaded with hormones and hormone-mimicking substances, such as antibiotics - which cause fat and cancer cells to replicate at faster-than-normal levels.
To add to the confusion, you talked about how important it is to consume fish regularly in order to combat stress (or cortisol) levels. The real compounds that fight stress found in fish are Omega-3 fatty acids, and you did say there are other ways to consume these fats, like eggs with added Omega-3.
Actually Dr. Oz, I find the best way to avoid stress is by not listening to your advice, because it is SO confusing. Fish and eggs have no fiber, and good luck trying to consume 25-35 grams of fiber in your food if you're regularly consuming either. Not to mention that fish (and eggs) are loaded with mercury, PCB's and pesticides. Or that eggs couldn't be higher in cholesterol. I found this ironic, since you are such a proponent of antioxidants in foods, and yet compounds like mercury and cholesterol cause the free radical oxidation (leading to plaque and cancer, among other things) that antioxidants are necessary to fight.
Dr. Oz, you seem like a smart man. Can you not see the advice you are giving is completely contradictory? Consuming large amounts of dairy, fish and/or eggs is mutually exclusive with consuming a high-fiber diet rich in antioxidants, since fiber and antioxidants come only from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It seems strange that you don't realize that calcium supplements would deplete the body's store of other minerals, such as zinc, copper and manganese, since all these minerals compete for absorption and carriers in the body.
I know you are tired of Americans suffering unnecessarily from chronic disease, but I don't think you are bringing much clarity to the question of what constitutes "good nutrition".
A concerned nutritionist
P.S. Did you notice that even Oprah looked baffled?
I had an amazing experience today that I want to share with you. One of my former nutrition students who took my 12-week class 2 years ago shared her story with my current students, and of course, yours truly.
Pat has lost 54 pounds since she first began my class (and read my book) 2 years ago, and she's kept it off for the duration. In fact, she brought a "before" picture to show us what she looked like, and no wonder I hardly recognized her. Apparently I wasn't the only one - someone even accused her of having gastric bypass surgery!
So I thought I'd pass along her secrets of how to lose over 50 pounds and keep it off:
1) Pat slowly weaned herself off mochas and all calorie containing beverages. Today she only drinks water and tea. She shared that the slow weaning process was important, because it took a while for her to acquire a taste for water again. Now she finds it refreshing.
2) Today Pat eats only when she's hungry and stops when she's no longer hungry. She said this was the hardest part to learn, and I don't doubt it. She realized she ate according to the clock, not her body's hunger. She also noticed she often ate alone, in front of the TV or at her desk.
3) Because she now eats only when she's hungry, Pat usually eats 5 small meals a day. She shared that this requires preparation: to always have healthy snacks on hand, but it's so worth it. She said as strange as it seems, the more often she eats, the more weight she loses.
4) Pat now eats between 35-40 grams of fiber a day from her food. If you recall from this blog or my book, fiber is an indigestible carb that causes weight loss in multiple ways - and it's much easier to consume than Metamucil commercials would have you think:
Fruit and dried fruit
Vegetables (including potatoes with the skin)
Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat products and popcorn
Legumes, including all nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and peas
Some of my favorite high fiber foods include avocados, pistachios, almonds, black beans, hummus, falafel, peanut butter and artichoke hearts.
Today I felt so affirmed in my role as a nutritionist. I hope if you know anyone struggling to lose weight, you'll pass this along to them. Oh - and if you've already experienced a major health benefit from this blog (or my book or seminars), please do share!
I've recently had a revelation that has helped me understand why Americans eat the way they do: instead of Americans being more ignorant than the rest of the world (or compared to previous generations), I'd like to suggest that there are plenty of brilliant people in the U.S.
However, I think many of them work in marketing and media.
Which means that some of the best American minds are behind the advertising campaigns that promote ridiculous products such as vitamin water, supplements, and processed foods. I also think some of these smarty-folks work at the FDA, ensuring that animal products containing hormones and antibiotics are completely legal, and never regarded as a possible source of cancer and fat cells in those who consume them.
Unfortunately, smart doesn't mean wise, and seldom I find the two together.
So if any of you are still wasting your money on supplements and/or vitamin water (a fantastic marketing idea, but zippo nutritional value), I advise you to give your money instead to a charity that feeds needy people - those who are truly malnourished.
Now for the latest study finding:
A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 89, No. 5, 1343-1349, May 2009), has found that eating a high-fiber breakfast cereal lowered blood sugar levels both before and after lunch. Those who ate the high-fiber cereal also consumed fewer total calories when in the breakfast/lunch period.
These findings are further evidence that high fiber foods protect against diabetes (and reverse Type II diabetes) and promote weight loss.
Speaking of which, I have had the privilege of receiving feedback from someone who attended my seminar on diabetes last fall. John told me that at age 48, he has now lost 31 pounds and been taken off his diabetes medication due to a high fiber diet. What an inspiration. A high fiber diet works miracles.
Okay, I love my garden, but I HATE slugs. Last night I went out to pluck them off the strawberry patch, feeling quite satisfied with myself. Then this morning I go out to check on my almost perfectly ripe strawberry and it's GONE. Not just partially-eaten: missing and without evidence of robbery. So I decided if I couldn't eat my own strawberries (this wasn't the first instance of being losing a strawberry to the slugs), neither could they. I pulled all the strawberries out and into the compost. Now there will be corn growing there.
I felt sad, angry and victimized. I had tried everything to keep the slugs away. It wasn't fair.
But then as I checked on the rasberry bush, what did I find but the first three ripe rasberries of the year! I knew then that God really does love me.
Along with that newsflash, here's some exciting nutrition news about fruits and veggies containing a compound called carotenoids. You might be familiar with beta-carotene. That is one of a handful of carotenoids. Others are called alpha-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. And yes, all those names will be on the test.
You might have heard that foods like carrots, mangos and sweet potatoes are high in carotenoids, because carotene gives these plants their orange color. But please know that ALL fruit and vegetables are rich in different kinds of carotenoids (like lycopene) that don't produce any distinguishable colors. Spices are also loaded with them.
A new study (The Journal of Nutrition, May 2009) found that men consuming foods high in carotenoids - in other words, fruits and vegetables - were significantly less likely to develop metabolic syndrome (a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, abdominal or "visceral" fat, and high blood lipids like cholesterol). Men who consumed the most carotenoids in their diet had 50% less likelihood of having metabolic syndrome. Since metabolic syndrome shaves off decades of life, not to mention causing dependence upon dialysis, this is great news.
So how do we fight diabetes, high blood pressure and overall premature death and suffering? I know it's cliche, but the answer is still more fruits and veggies. And don't forget that seasonal, locally-grown and organic produce contain LOADS more carotenoids than their imported, commercially-grown counterparts. So if you want to live long and stay healthy, spend the extra time and money on your produce (and dump the supplements).
In fact, I'm loving the carotenoids in the organic - and yes, store-bought - strawberries I'm savoring right now.