I've nothing against Gwyneth Paltrow. (Which I'm sure Gwyneth is relieved to hear!) She's created a 250 million dollar business and has everyone talking about her new series, Goop Lab, on Netflix. One can't help but admire someone who's got all that going on (and looks beautiful too). But although I would love to join her tribe and embrace all the cool vibes — I have a big problem with a lot of what she says and sells.
What's in the Goop
I decided to check out all six Goop Lab episodes after being tagged in a post about it on Instagram. Even though I wanted to be open-minded, I was skeptical about all the "goopy" science.
The first two episodes delve into the dangerous worlds of psychedelics and cold water therapy, respectively. And it looked like Gwyneth was going to watch most of the activities from the sidelines. She's absent when her group takes a trip (literally) on magic mushrooms and doesn't join them when they plunge into freezing water with Wim Hof. Back at the 'lab”, she does a few push-ups using Wim Hof's breathing method. (And I really can't be too critical — I'd have chosen that option also!)
But back to the cold water. Although there were disclaimers before every episode, the focus was on the health benefits of doing Wim Hof's ice water plunge. But he is not the norm. He's an extreme athlete with world records for swimming under the ice. Sadly, there are incidents of people dying after plunging into ice water.
Episode three was an interesting one. Betty Dodson (a 90-year-old sex educator) was AMAZING! There is nothing more authentic than being naked, while discussing 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?
Episode four was about looking younger. Gwyneth joined in on an experiment to see if diet can change your biological age (how old you seem compared to your actual age). One participant went vegan, another picked pescatarian, and Gwyneth took on the fast-mimicking-diet. This diet consisted of eating a meager selection of food from pre-packaged boxes for five days. ($249 From Prolon.) Gwyneth called the powdered mushroom soup "brutal" and complained that she was "dying and hangry." But I'm sure that despite this less-than-glowing endorsement, sales of this are booming on her site.
Spoiler alert: The winner of this experiment was the pescatarian diet. 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, 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 nodded off during the final episode (although to be fair, this could have been because I binge-watched the entire series.) The title was Are You Intuit? Which 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 liked the Goop Lab people. 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 this candle's name and price 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. And 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.
Healthy eating is my passion, and I love to share what's worked for me.
Copyright Simple Healthnut 2014