There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Goop capitalizing on people’s concerns over their health and calling it “wellness.”
The latest offense comes in the form of some thinly veiled guidance on recovering from COVID-19 in a piece called “GP’s Picks: Healing My Body
with a Longer-Term Detox.” Gwyneth Paltrow, who had the virus early on in the pandemic, wrote on her site about how she’s still experiencing some effects from the illness ― specifically brain fog and fatigue. She said that she got some tests from her doctors in January, which “showed really high levels of inflammation in my body.”
After getting her results, she consulted her functional medicine practitioner, William Cole, who put her on a new diet adapted from his new book “Intuitive Fasting” to address the issue. (The book is being published in partnership with Goop.) The eating plan, which she says is “keto” and “plant based,” also has her fasting each morning until 11 a.m. It’s also sugar- and alcohol-free.
Paltrow also goes onto say that she’s taking more supplements, including more zinc and vitamin C, “all of which Will [Cole] says are critical for me right now.”
The article then goes on to list out a bunch of products that Paltrow is relying on right now as a long-hauler, including an expensive necklace, hiking boots and a workout tank top that costs more than a monthly Peloton membership.
Here’s the problem with this (aside from the suggestion that having a $500 sauna blanket in your COVID-19 arsenal will help rid you of the disease): Like much of the health articles on Goop, the suggestions included aren’t really backed by research. In fact, in terms of the supplements, a study published earlier this week found that vitamin C and zinc don’t really make a difference in COVID-19 symptoms.
Taking tons of supplements ― especially without consulting with a doctor ― isn’t advised. “Unless someone has a deficiency of a particular vitamin or mineral there is not really any benefit in taking a supplement,” Jarod Fox, an infectious disease specialist and chairman of Orlando Health’s Infectious Disease Group, told HuffPost.
Otherwise, supplements don’t “really provide individuals with anything other than some expensive urine,” Fox said.
And as far as the “intuitive fasting” and “clean eating,” those are just fancy words for restrictive eating habits. This type of labeling can exacerbate disordered eating and poor relationships with nutrition. You do not need to “detox” your body in order to be in good health. Eating lots of nutrients can certainly improve your well-being, but labeling sugar as the devil and avoiding entire food groups in the name of COVID-19 likely will not.
Now, Goop never directly suggests that people should follow this plan. But the most insidious part of all this is that it’s targeting an audience that’s already struggling so much and will do anything to feel better.
Long-term effects from COVID-19 are brutal. In addition to the brain fog and fatigue like Paltrow mentioned, people have reported hearing loss, cardiac issues, shortness of breath, tingling and more. Some have even said they’re experiencing terrifying effects like their teeth falling out.
Doctors are doing their best to help. However, the disease is so new to the medical world, it’ll take quite some time before we have a full understanding of its long-term effects. The answers likely don’t lie in a strict eating plan that plays into the hands of diet culture and supplements that aren’t really backed by research.
“In my experience with COVID long-haulers, there have been few products, foods, supplements, herbs or any other quick fixes that have significantly moved the needle forward and in some cases, we have actually seen people set back by even minimal changes of routine,” said Noah Greenspan, a cardiopulmonary specialist focusing on long-haul COVID-19 and founder of the Pulmonary Wellness Foundation.
“In my experience with COVID long-haulers, there have been few products, foods, supplements, herbs or any other quick fixes that have significantly moved the needle forward.”
Instead of focusing on those quick fixes, Greenspan recommends that those who are still experiencing COVID-19 effects take it easy on themselves and with their recovery.
“One thing that we learned very early on in our long-haul voyage, through many, many patient reports and individual consultations, is that overdoing it can lead to very intense and tangible setbacks in the form of exacerbations, relapses, flares or simply the lack of any progress whatsoever,” Greenspan said. (That likely means limiting any intense hiking trips with those expensive Goop-endorsed hiking boots.)
Fox also recommended getting personalized emotional and physical support, including mental health help, nutritional advice and guidance on exercise.
“There are a number of support groups with individuals who offer advice on things that have worked for them. However, it is definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said.
“I would also encourage them to reach out to their primary care doctors and get any input from them before starting any new diet or exercise program and to avoid any supplements unless specifically recommended by a licensed physician,” Fox added.
The Goop longer-term detox article joins a long list of wellness “advice” on Goop that is more harmful than beneficial. The website was smacked with a lawsuit for its medical claims. It also now includes disclaimers on most of their health-related pieces. Some famous examples of Goop’s bad wellness wisdom include the suggestion that women use a jade egg in their vaginas in the name of feminine health, that using special stickers will balance your energy and that you need to take unnecessary iodine supplements.
Goop did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment. When discussing past articles of a similar nature, the company previously said:
As we have always explained, advice and recommendations included on Goop are not formal endorsements and the opinions expressed by the experts and companies we profile do not necessarily represent the views of Goop. Our content is meant to highlight unique products and offerings, find open-minded alternatives, and encourage conversation. We constantly strive to improve our site for our readers, and are continuing to improve our processes for evaluating the products and companies featured.
Look, the wellness industry is a lucrative one for a reason. Products like the ones featured on Goop are a huge part of that, and clearly there’s an appetite for it. But can we please generally leave COVID-19 out of it? The last thing this disastrous pandemic needs is more misinformation.