Mike Roizen is the guy you don’t think you know, but when you think about it, you actually do – at least in a Kevin Bacon, Six Degrees of Separation sort of way.
It all began with the golden touch of a certain media mega-brand named Oprah Winfrey. She invited cardiac surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz on her show, to talk about the Western world’s health crisis. It was 1994, and in one of his earliest appearances, Oprah dubbed him “America’s Doctor.” Nine years later, it’s safe to say it is true. Dr. Oz is so eloquent and telegenic, “people are often surprised to learn he is a highly credentialed member of the medical establishment,” said The New Yorker magazine, in its February 4, 2013 cover story on Dr. Oz.
And this is where Dr. Mike Roizen comes in.
Every Lone Ranger needs his Tonto.
Every Abbott has a Costello.
Ebert just wasn’t Ebert when Siskel wasn’t around.
You see where this is going.
When Dr. Oz recently hosted a 53-year-old meat lovin’ cowboy named Rocco on his show, (weight, 265 pounds; BMI, 37), Dr. Oz gave him a 28-day vegan challenge. To make Rocco adhere to Oz’s idea for a lifestyle boot camp, he turned to a fellow doctor, his best friend Dr. Roizen – which the show dubbed The Enforcer.
Beneath the hype – a message
To find out how the vegan challenge worked out for Rocco, you’ll have to watch the video clip, posted on Dr. Oz’s website. The Oz production team members are masters in the art of story telling. Cheesy monikers like “The Enforcer” aside, they are able to whip up gripping stories about the health of every people, which are poignant, profound, at times tear-jerking, and also LOL funny.
Dr. Roizen played the Rocco clip at his 9:30 a.m. talk at the Supply Side Marketplace event, and this just may have been the first educational session ever hosted at a trade show in which the audience gradually woke up as the session went on.
The story for those of us working in the food industry, however, is not the details of Rocco’s story – but rather the story of the making of this story. The team of Drs. Roizen and Oz is, for better or worse, significantly shaping the discourse and the perceptions of everyday people toward their own health and how it is, or is not, being cared for by “the system” – by doctors, by insurers and by the companies that manufacture their foods.
Like Dr. Oz, Dr. Roizen is not just a charismatic face. A former chairman of the Food and Drug Administration, he is the former editor of six medical journals and continues to work at the Cleveland Clinic.
Among the many topics he discussed at his SSE talk was the program he developed at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which has dramatically improved the health of employees who work in the medical system. Their strategy has been such simple yet innovate steps as making a work-based gym free for all employees, offering free nutritional counseling and taking punitive actions (including outright firing) of employees who continue to smoke.
These guys have power, and fortunately for us, they are both very open minded to “alternative” medicine, and are not shy to extol the benefits of an herb or a vitamin if they believe it is scientifically warranted. They are also, however, not without their detractors.
The Dr. Oz Show has 4 million daily viewers and has won two Emmys. Dr. Oz consistently earns a spot in Forbes’ list of most influential celebrities. Yet, the headline of the aforementioned New Yorker article was: “The Operator: Is the most trusted doctor in America doing more harm than good?” Reporter Michael Specter went on explain:
Oz is an experienced surgeon, yet almost daily he employs words that serious scientists shun, like “startling,” “breakthrough,” “radical,” “revolutionary,” and “miracle.” There are miracle drinks and miracle meal plans and miracles to stop aging and miracles to fight fat. Oz introduced a show on the safety of genetically modified foods by saying, “A new report claims they can damage your health and even cause cancer.” He also broadcast an episode on whether the apple juice consumed daily by millions of American children contains dangerous levels of arsenic. “Some of the best-known brands in America have arsenic in their apple juice,” he said at the outset, “and today we are naming names.” In each of those instances, and in many others, Oz has been criticized by scientists for relying on flimsy or incomplete data, distorting the results, and wielding his vast influence in ways that threaten the health of anyone who watches the show. Last year, almost as soon as that GMO report was published, in France, it was thoroughly discredited by scores of researchers on both sides of the Atlantic.
What the Oz Show says about supplements
Dr. Roizen concluded his talk at Supply Side Marketplace answering the one question he knew his audience probably cared about more than any other: What role does he see dietary supplements playing in peoples’ health? Are they optional, beneficial, or potentially damaging?
In a rapid-fire run-through, here are the supplements he believes people should incorporate in their diet:
• The ‘Odd’ Omegas (3, 7, 9). 900mg of DHA every day for the benefits of decreased memory loss and prevention of the early stages of macular degeneration. The odd omegas also decrease inflammation, and improve the risk factors for diabetes.
EE ethyl ester fish oils are not as effective as the triglyceride form “and EE is about 90 percent of what is out there on the shelves. So, that is something that you as an industry need to address.”
• Vitamin D 1,000 IU a day. This is shown to be good for cardiac health and cancer prevention.
• Calcium, 600mg from a supplement, but no more than that. (Another 400mg should come from diet.)
• Half a multivitamin taken twice a day.
• After age 55, lutein in addition to DHA, to prevent the first-stage development of macular degeneration.
• 2 baby aspirins a day, consumed with half a cup of warm water to protect the stomach lining from irritation. Aspirin his shown benefit for both cardiac health (a 10-45 percent reduction in heart attacks) as well as a reduction in major cancers.
• CoQ10, 200mg a day. (We don’t have good data on coQ10 yet, so the dosage is a bit of a guess, Dr. Roizen said.)
• Probiotics (Yet to have conclusive data on type and amount.)
In addition, people should limit all red-meat consumption to one serving of 4oz of red meat per week. Oh, and by the way, pork is not “the other white meat.” Pork is red meat, just like beef, he said.