Celebrity Detoxes Demystified


A new year of fresh possibilities. Christmas indulgence is over. Naturally, many New Year resolutions reflect the desire for decreased waistlines and toned muscles. In fact, according to a recent survey, only 25% of women are completely happy with the way their bodies look.

Scanning celebrities’ battles against weight, there are many different diets to choose from – each one weirder than the last. Mariah Carey losing weight eating only purple food, Sarah Harding sprinkling charcoal on her meals to absorb impurities from the body and Reese Witherspoon consuming mainly baby food are but some examples of Hollywood’s extreme kilogram detox. However, many diets have proved to be incorrect, even dangerous.

Beyonce lost 19 pounds through a ‘Master Cleanse’ for her role in the film Dreamgirls. A ‘cleansing’ drink of lemon juice, maple syrup, bottled water and cayenne pepper is consumed. Shockingly, ten glasses of the maple syrup drink a day, together with saltwater and laxative tea, is the only thing consumed for ten days. Anne Hathaway is another celebrity who drinks it for two days to be in best possible shape for the red carpet. Sure, it sheds the pounds, but for what price?

Weight is rapidly lost, but mostly regained when eating resumes. More seriously, the body goes into starvation mode, slowing down the metabolism. Since energy is needed elsewhere, muscles are slowly broken down, haveing a concerningly damaging impact on health.

Renee Zellweger’s yoyo dieting is another infamous example of the drastic measures taken to ditch the pounds. Rigorously following the Atkins diet, she went from size 14 to size 6 after the role as Bridget Jones. This diet cuts out all carbs, including vegetables and sugar. With the lack of nutrients, loss of muscle and liquid instead of fat, this diet is in no way healthy. Worryingly, Zellweger is expected to live only to the age of 55, a whopping thirty years under the normal female age expectancy.

The Macrobiotic Diet, followed notoriously by Gwyneth Paltrow for over ten years, focuses on eating mainly carbs. By dropping fat, less energy is gained, resulting again in the breakdown of muscles. Indeed, the result is a fragile body. Paltrow has been diagnosed with osteopenia, brittle bones. Her bone density is that of an eighty year old, a clear consequence of her extreme dieting. Shortly after one of her yearly detox periods, not long after New Year 2008, Paltrow collapsed from a five day fast.

There exists of course an abundance of other extreme Hollywood detoxes. Jennifer Aniston follows the Coconut Diet, including coconut oil in every meal to purge the body. Cheryl Cole believes in the Blood Type Diet, which is based on the untruth that one’s blood type affects the way food is broken down. Jennifer Love Hewitt eats half a grapefruit with every meal to gain more fat-burning enzymes.

Even more bizarre is the Cotton Ball Diet, which involves eating cotton soaked in gelatine to prevent hunger; the Vision Diet, wearing blue sunglasses to curb appetite, and ‘Power Balance’, a silicone bracelet to improve energy and strength. The ignorance of damaging health consequnces undermines most detox diets.

Simplicity proves to be best. For longer-lasting and healthier results, a well-balanced diet together with consistent exercise is recommended. Dr Wendy Denning, author of The Diet Doctors Inside and Out, summarises the problem by explaining that “fad diets have dominated the headlines and our lives in recent years, each promising thin thighs and trim tummies, usually thanks to a restictive diet”.


Discussion2 Comments

  1. avatar

    Great article! I definitely think this should have gone in the science section and not lifestyle.

    Because so many people are interested in celebrities, their bizarre health opinions influence huge amounts of people the entire world over.

    When it comes to sprinkling charcoal on your meals or eating an extra half a grapefruit, I don’t have much of a problem apart from the spread of misinformation. But when you get people as idiotic as Julia Sawalha saying that they stupidly only take homeopathic anti-malarials, they are treading on a very thin line.

    The recent Kenneth Tong/managed anorexia debate was a great example of a public fightback against bad science that could have seriously damaging repercussions. I’m stumped as to why we don’t treat people like Julia Sawalha in the same way.

  2. avatar

    @Joe – +1In my reasonably exeinstve experience, any time you hear New Age nutrition types talking about “toxins” or “detox,” your bullshit meter should be bumping the peg. These are people who wouldn’t know what tissues to assay to determine chemical composition, which compounds are supposed “toxins” and which are necessary to metabolism, and couldn’t be made to understand why their arguments don’t hold water even in the face of a clear explanation.Is it better for a person to eat a lot more plants than most of generally do? Probably. Will one’s body appear to rebel in some ways when established regimens — of any sort — are interrupted? Sure. Does post hoc ergo propter hoc constitute sound reasoning or a remotely scientific explanation? No. Not now, not ever. But try telling that to New Agers. Waste of breath. That’s because it’s a religion.Any doctor pushing this stuff as “science” should have his license yanked. Of course, I think the same of doctors who demonstrate the poor judgment to place Christian tracts in their waiting rooms.Here’s an experiment: Eat an all-raw or vegan diet, then hop in your Prius and report to a farm, a woodlot or a construction site where you will be expected to do the work of one man for one shift, day after day. That’s no more than what’s required of anybody in those industries. The experiment likely won’t go well at all, other than as a demonstration of my point. Tofu won’t get the trucks loaded.

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