Thursday, June 28, 2012

I watched Dr. Oz today (briefly)

Today I watched a segment of the Dr. Oz show.

It was about energy drinks (coffee, Red Bull and 5 Hour types, etc.) and how they aren't really miracle producers of energy, that in moderation now and then they're fine, but the high levels of sugar and excessive doses of caffeine are something to be avoided; that B vitamins aren't going to do anything for you unless you're deficient. And so forth.

This was more or less sensible advice. And then Dr. Oz and guest purported to let the audience know about some real "Miracle energy drinks." Which is where the show veered into quackery. The three miracle drinks offered were: Yerba Mate, a protein shake with powdered glutamine added, and ice water with lemon/pineapple/mint.

Look: Drinking flavored water is nice way to stay hydrated, but there is obviously nothing about it is a miracle energy source. In fact, it's not an energy source at all, given water has no calories. However, being dehydrated can effect your metabolism, so the advise to drink a pitcher of water a day is the most sensible thing that the show told the audience. Dr. Oz should have stopped there.

The "energy" from energy drinks is really referring to the stimulant effect of (primarily) caffeine. Which is what is so ridiculous about Yerba Mate being listed, given that it's a caffeine tea-like sort of drink - it would have easily fit in with the energy drinks given at the start of the segment.

Then there's the protein shake with glutamine. This is a nice way to get Dr. Oz's audience to waste their money. First of all, the recipe given for the shake has coffee in it - that is to say, a drink offered as an alternative to coffee has coffee in it. Then there is the glutamine, which the guest said that people really need to be getting _____ amount a day of (I forget the exact amount she said, it's irrelevant.) Unless you're a severe burn victim or have some kind of catastrophic injury/illness there is no reason to supplement with glutamine, something virtually anyone (asides from the malnourished) is going to get plenty of in their diet. Never mind that it will have nothing to do with energy anymore than any other amino acid that can be converted into glucose.

Which gets us to protein and strawberries (included in the recipe): you may as well call a chicken sandwich an energy meal. There's nothing "miracle" about it just because you get some protein and carbohydrates in liquid form. It can be tasty and convenient, certainly healthier than drinking a milk shake, but not a miracle.

Checking skeptical medical blogger Orac's website, I see that my initial impression of Dr. Oz is merited.

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