By Jane Wollman Rusoff
City & Shore Magazine
Mehmet Oz has been making the medicine go down in delightful – and insightful – ways for nine years now on The Dr. Oz Show. When he’s not on television providing tips for living a healthful life, the cardiac surgeon is operating on hearts, training physicians-to-be and writing best-selling books.
This fall, as a keynote speaker at the Global Wellness Summit, Oct. 9-11 at The Breakers Palm Beach, the ubiquitous doctor, winner of eight Daytime Emmys, will serve up proven ways of how to live the good life longer. “Living a Well Life” is the conference theme.
Dr. Oz’s focus: learning lifestyle habits of people residing in the world’s “blue zones” – which include Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece and Nicoya, Costa Rica. Locals there have been documented to live longest, often past 100.
The Global Summit will convene international leaders to discuss how wellness concepts – now a $3.7 trillion industry embracing medicine, fitness, nutrition, travel and beauty, among other sectors – will affect every aspect of life in the future.
Dr. Oz, 57, voted “Healer of the Millennium” by Healthy Living magazine, is a Columbia University professor and director of New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Complementary Medicine Program. He is of Turkish descent, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, who grew up in Delaware. He divides his time between homes in New Jersey and Palm Beach.
City & Shore caught up with Dr. Oz this past summer for an advance word on what he plans to discuss at the Summit. We also learned why he enthusiastically nominates South Florida for blue-zone region status.
City & Shore: What do you love about living in Palm Beach?
Dr. Oz: It’s like an adult fantasyland. I love the people, the weather, the ocean, the outdoors, the art. You can walk to the beach and swim in warm water, get some sun – Vitamin D – walk on sand for exercise. It’s easy to do the right thing in Florida. South Florida, especially, should have one of the longest life expectancies in the country. It should be a blue zone.
C&S: What’s the definition of ‘wellness’?
DO: Being able to do the best you can in your life to live the best of the good life. That’s different from disease prevention, which is trying to stay out of the hospital.
C&S: What do you plan to discuss at the Wellness Summit?
DO: Lifestyle tips for longevity and how you can widen your horizon by learning how people around the world have historically been able to live a good life longer. I’ll focus on the fact that attendees should both develop new habits for themselves and take them home to clients.
C&S: Are your tips based on research that you’ve done?
DO: I’ve worked with specialists in longevity who collect data. And I’ve traveled to blue-zone places – Sardinia, Greece, Costa Rica.
C&S: Are the tips medical in nature?
DO: They’re lifestyle tips. But, of course, you have to know the numbers that define your health: blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol. That makes sure you know what to focus on to do the things that will benefit you.
C&S: What’s one tip you’ll be providing?
DO: Having a lifestyle and adopting habits that allow you to move naturally as much as possible. So, for example, walking, gardening, carrying a bucket of water, fixing a car.
C&S: How beneficial is dancing?
DO: Dancing is the No. 1 best without question. Dancing isn’t only cardio-vascular but you also have to coordinate all those big muscles and know how to do [the steps]. Also, you’ve got to pay attention to the music and keep the rhythm. Dancing requires a lot of brain power.
C&S: You did hip-hop in a dance video with Michelle Obama as part of the ‘Let’s Move Campaign.’ How was that experience?
DO: Hip-hop isn’t my skill set! But I stepped outside my comfort zone. It’s important to do that.
DO: When you do the same thing every day, you think you’re building a place to keep yourself safe. But you’re actually building a cage. You want to go to a place that you haven’t been. Learning new habits, seeing different people, learning new languages, going where you haven’t been are beneficial because they stimulate your brain in unique ways.
C&S: Where does diet fit in? Mediterranean seems right. Previously, you’ve recommended lots of vegetables, including broccoli and spinach.
DO: Eat mostly green. Alcohol is beneficial: one glass for women, two for men every day. Data from most – not all – studies show that alcohol in moderation, especially in a community setting, appears to result in increased longevity. Don’t drink by yourself. You have to do it with friends and family. Make it a celebration.
C&S: All kinds of alcoholic drinks?
DO: Red wine might offer an additional benefit due to the theoretical value of resveratrol found in the skin of grapes. Wine is 10 percent better more figuratively than literally.
C&S: What are your thoughts about the recent study by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund that shows that one drink a day increases the risk of breast cancer by 5 percent in premenopausal women and by 9 percent in women who are post-menopausal?
DO: That’s a small increase, and we don’t know how the magnitude of the risk of cancer and the benefit of heart health balances out. I would say that women with a family history of breast cancer who want to do everything to minimize risk may want to consider limiting alcohol more.
C&S: In the quest to live a good life longer, how important is a zest for living?
DO: Very. You need to have a purpose in life, a reason to keep your heart beating. Meeting people, spending time with others in unique settings is important. That’s being vital and alive. Taking time for vacations is important, too, because sometimes you have to slow down a little.
C&S: How significant is sufficient shut-eye? Many Americans are having trouble with that.
DO: Getting enough sleep is one of the secrets to longevity. But sleep is the single most under-appreciated problem in America. If you’re stressed out, you can’t sleep. Sleep is a barometer of how you manage stress.
C&S: As a surgeon, you specialize in heart disease. How do men and women differ that way?
DO: Men have harder arteries; they’re like tubes the size of linguini. Women’s are tiny, itty-bitty strands, like capellini; so it’s more difficult to fix women’s arteries. But they don’t have the hard walls that men’s do. They have the better chance to reverse heart disease because their arteries aren’t calcified.
C&S: Any more wellness tips you can share?
DO: Make sure you belong to a group. It could be to a card group, a church, a synagogue.
C&S: Anything you’d care to say about the clash over U.S. health care?
DO: The real battle for health is waged in our homes – our living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens. I can give you a statin drug for [lowering] cholesterol, but if you’re eating kielbasa [sausages], it’s not going to make a difference.
C&S: Are you out to change the country’s medical system?
DO: Yes, substantively. It needs to be more efficient technologically. All your medical records should be in one place. But doctors and hospitals don’t have one another’s patients’ records. Your records should all be in your phone. That would make it a lot cheaper and easier for you to control your destiny.
IF YOU GO
11th Annual Global Wellness Summit Oct. 9-11 (pre-Summit reception, Oct. 8) The Breakers, Palm Beach. (By invitation only).
$3,380; spouse, $1,585.
Contact: Beatrice Hochegger, Beatrice.hochegger globalwellnesssummit.com,
Focus: Shaping the future of the wellness industry, including discussions on the latest sleep-science technology, mental wellness neuroscience research, workplace wellness ergonomics, development of wellness-centered real estate.
Speakers: Include Gerry Bodeker, PhD., Columbia University adjunct professor and former medical sciences teacher-researcher, Oxford University; Richard Carmona, M.D., 17th U.S. surgeon general; Michael Roizen, M.D., chief wellness officer, Cleveland Clinic; Ted Souder, head of industry – retail, Google; Andrew Weil, M.D., founder-professor, University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.