Dr. Mehmet Oz has learned a lot from Oprah Winfrey after years of appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," he said, none more important than connecting with his patients on a personal and emotional level to effect change.
"Oprah had to teach me that people don't change what they do based on what they know," Oz told ABC News' Diane Sawyer. "People change what they do based on what they feel. And as a doctor, I never connected that. Most physicians don't."
Oz appeared in 55 episodes of Oprah's show between 2004 and 2009. He then continued to make guest appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show while also hosting his own Emmy Award-winning program, The Dr. Oz Show.
During that time, he helped show her millions of viewers the intricacies of the human body, and how simple changes can prove hugely beneficial in people's lives.
"Demystifying the body was the essence of what we were doing," Oz said. "And there are truths about what happens inside of you. The magic that represents the special sacred nature of your body."
Oz, who will be turning 51 next month, was born in Cleveland to Turkish parents. His father was also a surgeon. "My father is from Konya, which is like being from Nashville in Turkey," he said. "My father's family is very poor. My mother's family is very affluent. They're still married."
Although he eventually attended Harvard University to achieve his undergraduate degree before getting a joint medical degree and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Wharton School in Philadelphia and becoming a respected cardiothoracic surgeon, he was not always a good student.
"I was a bad student in elementary school. I was always bouncy," Oz said. "But I think in many ways that's probably one of the reasons I was successful as a surgeon. I was so impatient. I didn't want to wait for someone else to figure out how to fix the problems I was trying to address. I would just create the inventions myself."
He still performs 100 surgeries every year and is the Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University.
Oz and Oprah
Oz also helped Winfrey herself deal with health issues. "Oprah and I talked a lot about her health," he said. " We talked about -- and I'll speak only of -- issues that were public. About her thyroid. About her concerns about why the thyroid wasn't working well, and why it was so difficult to diagnose. There was a viewer who wrote into Oprah months before we diagnosed her problem who said, 'Your thyroid looks big. I think there's something wrong with that,'" Oz said. "And so that was a wake-up call. ... There are subtleties that we were ignoring in our own body that the viewers could see."
They talked about Winfrey's famous battles with her weight but, Oz said, he never scolded her about it.
"As a doctor, all I cared about was the health issues that would come about if she was overweight," Oz said. "As a doctor, as a friend, what I cared about was she going to develop problems with blood sugar, was she going to develop hypertension, was she going to develop bad cholesterol numbers. … If she lost it, it'd be great. If she gained a little more, that's OK too. As long as she's healthy on the inside."
Dr. Oz's Advice for You
Oz said that, first and foremost, you must become an expert on your body, before you can change for the better. "Be the world expert in the body ... [only then] can you be the world expert on your body."
Oz then shared with Sawyer three tips that he believes would benefit everyone:
Walk more. "Do what humans have always done, which is to walk. … I'm not talking about a stroll through the park. But an active, aggressive walk, has been the core of what has allowed humans to survive for decades longer than they should have," Oz said.
Eat rawer, fresher foods. "Half of all the foods you eat, half should be made up of real food. Food that comes out of the ground looking the way it looks when you eat it."
Find your passion. "You have to give your heart a reason to keep beating. It seems so simple. But if you don't have passion, if you don't have vision, if you don't have something that brings you joy day in and day out, then nothing else makes a difference."