I've nothing against Gwyneth Paltrow. (Which I'm sure Gwyneth's relieved to hear!) She's created a 250 million dollar business and has everyone talking about her new series, Goop Lab, on Netflix. Who can't help but admire someone who's got all that going on (And looks beautiful too.) I would love to be able to join her tribe and embrace all the cool vibes. But I have a problem with much of what she's saying - and selling.
What's in the Goop
After being tagged in a post about Goop Lab on Instagram, I decided to check out all six episodes. Even though I wanted to be open-minded, I'm VERY skeptical about all the "goopy science."
The first two episodes delve into the dangerous worlds of psychedelics and cold water therapy, respectively. It's apparent at this early stage that Gwyneth's going to watch most of the activities from the sidelines. She's conspicuously absent when her group takes a trip (literally) on magic mushrooms. And doesn't join her team when they plunge into freezing water. Her contribution (back at the 'lab') was to do a few pushups using the Wim Hof breathing method. But I really can't be too critical - I'd have chosen the pushup option myself!
Although there were disclaimers before each episode, the focus was on the supposed benefits. Yes, Wim Hof has done some remarkable things - he's an extreme athlete with world records for swimming under ice. But he's not the norm, and people have actually died following his methods.
I'm guessing none of us need a lecture on illegal drugs. But it seemed additionally irresponsible that the people entrusted to assist and guide the Goop Lab staff through their psychedelic experience were getting high themselves!
Episode three was an interesting one. Betty Dodson (a 90-year-old sex educator) was AMAZING! Nothing is more authentic than being able to sit naked in front of a camera and discuss your area of expertise. Of course, our host immediately declared that she wouldn't be a part of this venture either. So, it was kind of ironic when (in a later episode), Gwyneth told her fellow goopers, "You guys put me through the craziest shit." OMG, did she really forget about the psychedelic trip, the frigid water dip, or the being naked (to get to know your vulva better) challenges they'd endured for the show?
Episode four was about how to look younger and included a discussion on biological aging. This refers to how old you seem (compared to your biological age, which is the actual number of years you've been alive.) Gwyneth (finally) joined in on an experiment to see if different diets can change your biological age. One participant went vegan, another pescatarian, and Gwyneth took on the fast-mimicking-diet. This consisted of eating a meager selection of food from pre-packaged boxes for five days. ($249 From Prolon.) She called the powdered mushroom soup "brutal" and complained of feeling like she was "dying and hangry." I'm sure that despite this less-than-glowing endorsement, sales of this on her site are booming.
One revelation from Gwyneth that totally surprised me was her statement that she's been surviving on coffee, alcohol, and no sleep for two years. This was obviously a dramatic exaggeration, but what a contradiction to the healthy lifestyle she's promoting!
(In case you're wondering, the pescatarian diet was the winner when it came to reducing your biological age. Probably because this closely resembles the Mediterranean diet, which has consistently shown to be the healthiest way to eat.)
Although there are health benefits to intermittent fasting, you don't need to endure "brutal" soup or subsist on piddling portions. One approach is the 16/18 method. Just restrict your eating (of nutritious food) to an 8-hour window in the day. For the remaining 16 hours (many of which you'll be sleeping), you fast. And I promise you won't feel 'hangry' or close to death!
I wasn't into the last two episodes. Episode five, entitled The Energy Experience, was pretty awful, and the "exorcism" fiasco was disturbing and horrible to watch. The discussion about the lady who kept barfing as she continued to purge made me wonder (again) why ANYBODY would think this was healthy or normal.
I think I nodded off during the final episode (although to be fair, this could have been because I binge-watched the entire series.) But the title Are You Intuit? seemed appropriate - because I really wasn't! I'm not a fan of mediums and stay away from anything to do with the occult and mysticism.
The Good, the bad, and the plain weird
Despite my initial reservations about this series, I found parts of it engaging, and I ended up liking the people working at Goop Lab. There were also real nuggets of information woven into the series. But herein lies the danger. Gwyneth Paltrow has a history of promoting pseudoscience and kooky ideas. These included vaginal jade eggs (that were deemed potentially dangerous and led to a lawsuit), coffee enemas, and a $75 candle named "This smells like my vagina." I'm no prude (I grew up watching British television, after all), but the name and price of this candle are just insane!
Many women look up to celebrities and want to copy what they're doing and using. Unfortunately, our health issues have been ignored for years - but the solution isn't going to be found in exorbitantly-priced merchandise and bizarre trinkets. Netflix advertises the show as entertainment, which it actually is. But I think Dr. Jen Gunter described Goop Lab perfectly when she wrote the following in Bustle Magazine:
"Some fine information presented alongside unscientific, unproven, potentially harmful therapies..."
As always, my blog is just my opinion. If you've seen any (or all ) of the episodes, I'd love to know what you think. Please drop a comment below.
Although I have no formal education in nutrition, I've been researching this subject for over forty years. Healthy eating is my passion, and I love to share what's worked so well for me.