I just finished reading a thoughtful, informative and thoroughly entertaining book that examines how our celebrity-crazy culture affects our healthcare and lifestyle choices.
In “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?”, author Timothy Caulfield makes it his quest to “analyze and debunk the messages and promises” behind celebrities’ overhyped and oversold health, diet and beauty products.
Indeed, celebrity culture has emerged as one of the most significant and influential sources of pseudoscientific blather….The popularity of juicing, cleanses, detox diets, weird exercise routines, and a boatload of beauty and antiaging products and practices can be linked directly to celebrity endorsements.
He picks on Gwyneth Paltrow in the title, and the first chapter of the book is devoted to her Goop-endorsed (and very expensive) colon cleanse.
The idea that a colon cleanse removes toxins and promotes health is so ridiculous that it is a pretty good test for quacks. If a book, health-care practitioner, TV doctor, magazine columnist, or blogger recommends a colon cleanse, also known as a colonic or colonic hydrotherapy, you can flush all their advice down the toilet.
Related post: Be wary of advice from television’s “entertainment” docs
Subsequent chapters take on such celebrity endorsed-products as Lyfe vitamins (Katy Perry), cosmetic acupuncture (Sandra Bullock), nightshade-free diets (Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen), and cosmetic surgery (Pamela Anderson), among many others.
Seek evidence-based medicine instead
But he doesn’t just use his book to make fun of celebrities and tell us what doesn’t work. Caulfield takes on the role of educator and advocate by giving us good evidence-based information as well, which can help us make better healthcare decisions and save us lots of money.
I think he really embodies what I consider my Frugal Nurse mantra: Be informed, stay healthy, save money.
More often than not, Caulfield’s sources tell us that the best advice for staying young, active, slender and healthy is a combination of—you guessed it—good genes, moderate exercise, a calorie-appropriate diet, not smoking, not drinking too much, getting enough sleep, and keeping stress levels under control. These aren’t always easy goals, I know, but they shouldn’t cost you a fortune, either.
Caulfield’s book also reveals a sad irony about celebrities: although they are paid vast amounts of money to create or endorse products that promise to make us younger, prettier, happier, more energetic, richer, sexier, etc., celebrities actually have shorter and unhealthier lives than average!
[A] study published in 2013 looked at mortality across all the fame-oriented professions, including acting, sports, music, singing, and dance. The authors, who examined one thousand obituaries in the New York Times, found that individuals in celebrity-oriented professions died at a younger age. They concluded: “Fame and achievement in performance-related careers may be earned at the cost of a short life expectancy.”
Overall, “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong…?” is both a funny and fascinating look at the celebrity industry, and a wellness manual that stresses focusing on science and tuning out the “pseudo-scientific blather” of misinformed actors, singers, models, reality TV stars and professional sportsball stars.
More humorous books about evidence-based medicine: