Last week Dr. Oz attempted to jump on the Ancestral Diet bandwagon by debuting his Prehistoric Diet. Here’s a web page outlining it. The Dr. Oz Show last Friday presented the results of his “extensive testing” of this diet. His test protocol was to take three woman who were displaying health problems as a result of eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) and lock them in a cage at the zoo with only raw fruits and vegetables to eat for three days.
At the end of the three days there were some improvements. I will agree that removing highly processed foods from the diet and replacing them with whole foods will cause rapid improvements. That’s why some Vegans see dramatic health improvements initially. The true test is whether the diet can sustain health over years of time.
I’m not even going to bother to outline all of the problems that exist with Oz’s “research” design. In the article, Oz displays a lack of knowledge and understanding of what went on in the Paleolithic/Prehistoric era that rivals Sarah Palin’s lack of knowledge regarding Paul Revere’s ride to warn the colonists of British attack.
The “Prehistoric” diet outlined in the article is a vegan diet. It includes highly processed foods that were not available during the Prehistoric era. Our hunter/gatherer ancestors did not gather tofu or soy beans in the forest. They did not add grains into the diet until fairly recently, with the advent of agriculture. The diet presented by Oz as a Prehistoric diet does not resemble what was actually eaten in that era.
I think that Oz is trying to capitalize on the recent positive buzz that the Paleo/Primal diet and Ancestral Health Movement are getting. He’s hedging his bets. When /if the Paleo diet is recognized as being a healthy, sustainable way that humans should eat, Oz can point to his Prehistoric diet and claim that he was there in the forefront of it all (I expect there’ll be a few tweaks to it over the years ). If the Paleo/Primal diet is found through research to be detrimental to human health, Oz can beat his chest and state that HIS Prehistoric diet was different.
The thing that disturbs the most is the muddying of the waters this will cause with people’s perceptions regarding actual Ancestral based diets. I have no problem with Oz pushing the raw Vegan diet. He should be up front about and tell it like it is. What I have a problem with is Oz trying to say that this is the type of diet that humans ate historically. That is just not the case. In the future, if I’m discussing an Ancestral type diet with someone and they say they are familiar with it, I’ll have to clarify whether or not they are referring to the Vegan diet that Oz has cloaked with Prehistoric Diet mantle. It complicates things.
When you get right down to it, the Dr. Oz Show is Reality TV, on par with The Jersey Shores and The Jerry Springer Show. Entertainment trumps facts every time. Unfortunately, Dr. Oz’s association with Oprah has given people the perception that he’s an authority in matters of health. Many people accept what Oz says as fact, without further research into the matter. Doesn’t the Hippocratic Oath say that physicians should do no harm?