Why Gwyneth may be harmful to your health
LIVING LIKE a celebrity may once have meant Cristal Champagne for breakfast, a line of coke for lunch, and caviar for dinner. But these days it’s more likely to involve a 15-day diet of hydrated smoothies, a colonic flush and organic air.
Now big stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyonce and Salma Hayek don’t have friends, they have “cleanse buddies”, sunbathe their private parts and swim in donkey milk.
We shouldn’t see celebrities as experts of anything – except perhaps taking selfies, avoiding nip slips on the red carpet and tipping off the paparazzi for impromptu beach snaps. Yet these days we hang off their every utterance on subjects such as the benefits of a “master cleanse” and the need to ensure juices are not just raw and unpasteurized, but free from HPP (High Pressure Pascalization).
Never before has celebrity star power had so much more influence than mainstream medical science. In other words, never before have celebrities known so little and said so much.
So it’s time to ask: do we really need squeaky clean internal organs? Does a 15-day juice diet do anything other than make us ravenous and turn our wee green? And do women really need to use Mugwort Herbal Sanitary Pads?
A new book establishes what many people have thought all along: that much of the new age mumbo jumbo is absolute rubbish. Or, as Professor Timothy Caulfield puts it, “complete bunk”. His book is called Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?
Prof Caulfield, from the University of Alberta in Canada, subjected popular celebrity-led health crazes to scientific scrutiny and found they just didn’t stack up. In other words, the answer to the book’s title is “yes”. The question mark was just to keep his lawyer happy, he says. For a start he found bodies aren’t meant to be clean and livers don’t need a detox.
The idea of detox is “just bogus,” Prof Caulfield says. “There’s no sort of scientific ambiguity about it.”
He – and many other scientists – insists we don’t need to flush out toxins, because our body does that naturally. He also maintains vaginas don’t need steam cleaning, and there’s no evidence that doing so will improve fertility. “You shouldn’t monkey with the bacterial flora down there,” as Prof Caulfield puts it.
He also found there is no need for colons to get a “fecal flush”, finding there is absolutely no scientific basis for it. Juicing is the same, he found. It sounds good, but there is no medical reason it’s any better than eating an apple. In fact, Prof Caulfield found most celebrity health claims were deserving of nothing but derision. And yet they are followed by millions and given a strangely elevated cult status because they’re peddled by a reality TV star who’s seen better days or an actor who won an Oscar. It’s marketing repackaged as medicine. Prof Caulfield points out that not only are some of these things pointless and unnecessary, they are actually harmful. He’s right that celebrity health claims are simply not held up to a high enough standard – or any standards at all.
Celebrity chef Pete Evans found this out the hard way when he released a paleo book for babies that had to be withdrawn because of doctors’ safety concerns. Even Paltrow has talked about how a master cleanse once left her hallucinating after 10 days. As Prof Caulfield says, many people don’t realise that health claims like “all natural”, “clinically proven” and “based on science” mean absolutely nothing.
Whether it’s Paltrow and her 2.13 million Twitter followers, or Pete Evans and his one million Facebook page likes, scientists just can’t compete with star power. Indeed, despite being under attack in the mainstream press, Evans’s Facebook page has attracted 10,000 new page likes in the past week.
As the rest of us get fatter and less healthy, the more drawn we are to the quick fix and the latest trend to get us back on track. We can’t be Gwyneth, but we can have a squeaky clean colon like Gwyneth, not to mention a freshly steamed vagina.
In the end there is only one cleanse that Prof Caulfield advocates. Step one: “Cleanse your system of all the pseudoscience babble that flows from many celebrities, celebrity physicians and the diet industry”.
Sounds good to me. Blog with Susie at susieobrien.com.au and follow her on Twitter @susieob