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?
I am not sure Dr. Oz was going after a paleo diet as much as the raw food diet that many folks tout. And yeah, it’s about entertainment as much or more than education or unfortunately he wouldn’t have sponsors. Most of America wants to be entertained first . I also don’t think that he explains thoroughly the research he, meaning his staff, puts into things before they make the air. I can’t imagine his legal staff letting a 48 hour camp out in the zoo count as research. That said, I was disappointed in the presentation. I’d be more interested in what his staff found.
Clearly he was pushing the raw vegan diet. The problem I have with it was his trying to tie that in with Ancestral Diet. The raw vegan diet has no relation to what people ate in the prehistoric era. Oz has just created confusion with trying to tie his diet in with what people ate before agriculture.
It doesn’t look like he is pushing raw since some of the recipes listed involve cooking or already cooked food. It sounded like what his web site was saying was to eat like our ancestors, primarily vegetables and lean sources of protein. I think his authority in matters of health come from his credentials, he is a cardio thoracic (sp?) surgeon with degrees from Harvard and Penn (although his audience is due to his start on Oprah). I haven’t seen his show and the cage thing with veggies and fruits does sound hokey and strictly for the entertainment value. I wouldn’t call it research if that was all he did to come to his conclusions about Paleo.
Even the paleo diet doesn’t truly match what our ancestors ate since both animals and plants have been bred over the years for human consumption. Our ancestors were eating wild game and most likely insects and whatever wild edible plants they could find rather than broccoli and grass fed beef. I think the Paleo diet does try to get as close to that as is possible but it is already a modification by default.
I’m not trying to slam Paleo, it seems to be working well for a large number of people. I can see a real benefit to cutting out processed foods, sugar and carbs. I do think there are other healthy diets as well. I’m interested to know how Paleo would work for the entire planet. The amount of space needed to produce meat is far greater than is needed to produce grain and vegetables and this is especially true if the animals are raised and slaughtered in a humane manner.