Gwyneth Spouting GOOP… Again

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Gwyneth Paltrow once again proves that she can promote a wealth a medical misinformation.

In the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar, the 39-year old Academy Award winning actress waxes poetic about “all things Gwyneth”- diet, exercise, fashion, parenthood, to name a few.

Paltrow insists that she would rather have wrinkles than use Botox. Although she doesn’t seem to mind “little things, like lasers” and regular facials, often at the London-based Vaishaly Patel, which runs almost $400 for a 55-minute session.

But the thing that really got my eyes rolling was the reasons for once again turning to one of her seasonal cleanses:

“I have a lot of inflammation in my system, so I’m not having anything I’m allergic to—no gluten, no dairy, no sugar.”

And she can tell when it’s time to start another cleanse because:

“I’ll wake up exhausted; I can feel my adrenal cortex being really high. When I get into bed, my heart will pound, my skin won’t be good, I’ll feel cranky, and then I’ll just know it’s time.”

WOW! It’s amazing that Gwyneth is so in tune with her body that she can “feel” the outer layers of the tiny pair of organs that sit on top of her kidneys and which jointly weigh about one-third of an ounce! (The adrenal glands have an inner portion called the medulla and an outer portion called the cortex.)

BTW, the adrenal glands produce hormones that you can’t live without, including sex hormones and cortisol, which helps you respond to stress and has many other functions. (You can read more about the adrenal gland in our story about JFK and Eunice Kennedy Shriver.)

Gwyneth has embarked on a 12-week cleanse by the detox specialist, Dr. Alexandro Junger. This is one of many times she had been on this regimen, which coincidentally has been renamed “the goop cleanse.”

Detox diets claim that they can help chronic conditions that occur when the body become victim to a build up of “toxins.” As Dr. Junger puts it:

When our systems are overtaxed, they begin to break down in a multitude of ways. Allergies, headaches, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, weight gain and insomnia are just a few of the symptoms that can result. The majority of these common ailments are the direct result of toxin build-up in our systems that has accumulated during the course of our daily lives.

Do Detox diets work? Is there any scientific evidence to recommend them?

Detox (short for detoxification) diets usually consist of a variable period of altered diet. This diet is high in fluids, high in fruits and vegetables, and eliminates alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods. Colonic cleansing (enemas to remove fecal material from the colon) are frequently included as well. Some diets also include special herbs or supplements which are supposed to enhance toxin removal.

“But the science behind the detox theory is deeply flawed“, says Peter Pressman, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “The body already has multiple systems in place — including the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract — that do a perfectly good job of eliminating toxins from the body within hours of consumption.”

Detox dieters often report a variety of benefits, but most of these improvements may be due to changes in the diet unrelated to any change in “toxin levels.” For instance, a decrease in headaches could be related to elimination of caffeine or alcohol in the diet. Decreased bloating just from eating less. Clearer skin may be related to better hydration.

Many individuals will have weight loss from these diets (mostly because they are low in calories), but it is usually due to a loss of fluids and some muscle, and not fat loss, and therefore the weight loss is temporary. Colonic cleansing, in general, is unnecessary except in preparation for colonoscopy. Colonic enemas can tamper with the body’s normal fluid and electrolyte balance and can lead to infection, irregularity, and dehydration. A high fiber diet works better for improving bowel irregularity.

Now back to Gwyneth:

According to the article, when she’s not detoxing, “I eat whatever I want. I like bread and cheese and wine, and that makes my life fun and enjoyable.” She’s also been seen chowing down on “bocadillo with Mario Batali in Spain or on fried chicken while filming Country Strong down South.”

These food binges seems to be interspersed with more a limited diet:

I’ll have a smoothie before [I take the kids to school], with protein and almond milk, and coconut water while I’m working out, and usually a green juice afterward.” Lunch “depends on how busy I am. A lot of times, I’ll just have half an avocado with salad dressing or rice cakes and almond butter and fruit, but if I have some time, then I’ll make a salad with protein or a turkey burger.

She also works out for an hour and a half at least 5 days/week. Then, she pulls out the big guns and goes on a cleanse.

Do these sound like healthy eating habits to you? Does anyone believe that Ms. Paltrow is really a role model for the “clean living” that she advocates?

Check out our articles on bulimia and eating disorders and tell me what you think.

Photo Credit: Terry Ricardson/Harper’s Bazaar

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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