WATCH ABOVE: Millions of people turn to celebrities for health tips. However, a local professor has a new book about science versus celebrity culture. Su-Ling Goh reports.
EDMONTON — Gwyneth Paltrow was once named the world’s most beautiful woman and has millions of adoring fans, but does that really qualify her and her other celebrities to dish out health advice?
The 42-year-old has previously used her health and lifestyle blog, Goop, to promote a macrobiotic diet. Most recently, she’s used the site to advertise what she calls a “Mugworth V-Steam” — essentially, a vaginal steaming. The post sparked ridicule on social media from many, including comedian Ricky Gervais.
Just steaming my vagina https://t.co/kTfpvNCGhQ
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) February 2, 2015
‘Clueless’ actress Alicia Silverstone joins anti-vaxxer movement
Anti-vaccination movement means preventable diseases making a comeback
6 misconceptions about nutrition and healthy eating
“Gwyneth is a great example of the impact of celebrity culture in our lives. Not only does she talk about health products and lifestyle interventions, but it’s part of her brand,” said University of Alberta law professor Tim Caufield.
In his latest book, Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything, Caufield tried to put some of the actress’ tips to the test, starting with her 21-day detox diet plan. So what did he think of it?
“I hated it. It was 21 days of hell.”
“There’s no evidence that you need to detoxify your body. You have organs that do that for you, your kidney, your liver and even your skin. When you pee, you’re detoxing.”
READ MORE: What U of A doctors found when they studied Dr. Oz’s health claims
It’s not just the $5 billion detoxing industry that Caufield has a problem with, nor is it just Paltrow. There are plenty of other celebrities who also delve into the world of health and wellness, like Jenny McCarthy, who was once outspoken about linking vaccines to autism.
READ MORE: Jenny McCarthy backtracking on anti-vaccination, but is it too late?
Today I quit my beloved coffee & make the switch to vitamin B complex ☹ Don’t worry @starbucks it’s not forever. #tourtourtour
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) February 9, 2011
@RealFloydCyrus everyone should try no gluten for a week! The change in your skin, phyisical and mental health is amazing! U won’t go back!
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) April 9, 2012
Caufield believes that whether we realize it or not, what celebrities say affects our choices about our appearance, careers and our health.
“Celebrities have become the standard by which we measure ourselves. Even if we don’t think we’re doing that, it’s a phenomenon called Social Comparison.”
The reason so many people seem to listen to the advice celebrities offer, according to Caufield, likely has to do with our pursuit of perfection and our desire to achieve it the easy way.
But the quick fixes can be dangerous and unhealthy. Science shows we should listen more to our doctors — and less to celebrities like Paltrow.
READ MORE: 6 misconceptions about nutrition and healthy eating
The not-so-elusive secret may boil down to just adopting a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain long-term. And leaving celebrity culture where Caufield feels it should be: “as a form of entertainment.”
With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News