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The New Healers

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The doorknobs to nutritionist Oz Garcia's inner office are green crystal balls. The outer office is decorated with magazine articles about him published in W, Hamptons, and Allure. Garcia advises the likes of Winona Ryder and Judith Regan, along with a flock of supermodels, about what to eat, using hair analysis and a method of eating tailored to individual metabolic types. Last year he published a book called The Balance: Your Personal Prescription for Supermetabolism, Renewed Vitality, Maximum Health, and Instant Rejuvenation.

Garcia, born in Cuba, was a fashion-and-beauty photographer in the seventies when he became a natural-health convert. In his mid-twenties, he suffered debilitating migraines, and no prescription drugs seemed to help. On an assignment to photograph a visiting guru, he heard the lecture that changed his life and decided to try meditation and natural supplements. Soon he was a strict vegetarian, growing sprouts in trays in his loft apartment, and hadn't had a headache in months. He apprenticed himself to naturopaths and other holistic healers, studied at the Hippocrates Institute in Boston, then went into business as a nutritionist in the eighties. Garcia says his job is to "educate" -- not treat -- people. "We work in conjunction with their doctors," he says.

Most of Garcia's clients are not exactly sick, but they come to him complaining of tiredness, weight gain, or feeling emotionally or temperamentally off. In a first session, he will quiz people about how they live and what they eat. He instructs them to keep food and activity logs, and to individualize their diets, he sends people for blood work and hair analysis. "Food when used properly can be therapeutic," he says. "We are educating clients about the curative role of food."

Garcia advises a diet with "protein-accurate" and "carbohydrate-accurate" goals. Like Bezoza, he believes Paleolithic man ate a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, but modernity has served up a groaning board of carbohydrate-laden food that turns people into sluggish, fleshy addicts. "The biggest culprits are pizza, pasta, cookies, cakes, bagels. It's this doughy diet people eat that causes neurochemical changes, and they become addicted."

Lithe and elegantly dressed in cashmere and velvet, Garcia doesn't appear to have been near a bagel for years. He says he eats bread "on a social basis" only. The last time he ate fast food was after a vision quest in Zion National Park, Utah --
driven to it only by desperate necessity. "We'd been fasting, and we were on this unbelievable high and were starving. The only place we could get food on the highway was Burger King. I had a Whopper. I weathered it okay."

Garcia's clients tend to see him as a "best friend," says Jason Binn, the 31-year-old publisher of Hamptons, Ocean Drive, and Palm Beach magazines. "He changed my life. You never know your body until you go to someone like Oz. I run around with the fastest people around, and my hours of sleeping and eating are crazy. He told me my whole life by analyzing my blood and hair samples. His objective is to level you out to where you're just streamlined. He makes me do a cleansing once a week where all I eat is brown rice and vegetables and an ultraclear shake. It's tough."


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