Ever since launching Goop, her lifestyle website in 2008, Gwyneth Paltrow has become the queen of controversy.
She once revealed that she didn’t like to feed her children carbs, she introduced us all to the horrors of vaginal steaming and the less said about that scented candle the better.
And this week the Oscar-winning actress is up to her old tricks by claiming that a combination of fasting and a plant-based ketogenic diet has helped her beat the symptoms of long Covid.
She said: ‘I had Covid-19 early on, and it left me with some long-tail fatigue and brain fog. In January, I had some tests done that showed really high levels of inflammation in my body.’
She went on to reveal that she sought the advice of a functional medicine practitioner — a type of alternative medicine — who recommended a diet overhaul.
Gwyneth Paltrow (pictured) has claimed that fasting and a plant-based ketogenic diet helped her beat symptoms of Long-Covid
While Gwyneth may credit fasting and vegetables as her Covid cure, Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director for NHS England, isn’t so sure.
‘In the last few days, I see Gwyneth Paltrow is unfortunately suffering from the effects of Covid.
‘We wish her well, but some of the solutions she’s recommending are really not the solutions we’d recommend in the NHS,’ he said.
The practitioner Gwyneth was referring to is Dr Will Cole, whose new diet book Intuitive Fasting, she is also endorsing.
Controversies aside, having Gwyneth Paltrow plug your diet book must, surely, be marketing gold?
With her killer body, shiny blonde hair and glowing skin, Gwyneth is the ideal poster girl for all things healthy and wholesome. She even wrote the foreword for his Intuitive Fasting book.
‘It’s what he knows about food and nutrition and the optimal way to nourish the body and support its healing functions,’ she tells readers.
‘It’s full of what he’s learned about reducing inflammation, restoring balance, recharging metabolism and resetting gut health. It’s been a pleasure to witness the Will Cole effect, to watch him help transform and optimise the health of people around the world.’
She said functional medicine practitioner – a type of alternative medicine – Dr Will Cole (pictured left, with Gwyneth and Seamus Mullen), recommended a diet overhaul
Will, 36, is a doctor of natural medicine, where the aim is to treat the body as a whole rather than focusing on specific ailments.
He runs a clinic from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the U.S., a long way from the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood Hills, where he treats people via video calls — something he’s been doing for ten years, long before Covid meant we all had to familiarise ourselves with Zoom.
It also means Gwyneth, 48, doesn’t have to traipse from LA to Pittsburgh when she wants treatment.
‘We met many years ago through a mutual friend, Alejandro Junger, the medical doctor and cardiologist,’ Dr Cole tells me in-between consultations. Like Gwynnie, Dr Alejandro Junger is a believer in detoxes and cleanses and, like Dr Cole, makes regular appearances on the Goop website.
As well as featuring regularly in Goop’s online features, he’s given talks at three of their health summits and earlier this week, Gwyneth hosted a live online Q&A event with him.
DR COLE’S TIPS FOR BOOSTING YOUR HEALTH
1 Give your body some grace — you cannot heal a body you do not love. You don’t have to be perfect.
Implement things that make you feel better, not add to your load. Health is not all or nothing.
Dr Cole advises adding more vegetables to your diet (stock image)
2 Decrease the things that drive inflammation. A huge contributor is stress. I always say that stress is ‘junk food for the soul’.
Bring acts of stillness and gratitude to your life — that could involve downloading meditation apps or getting out and walking and breathing in fresh air.
He says that avocado are a great source of healthy fat (stock image)
3 Introduce more vegetables into your diet, and cook them if you have poor digestive health.
Salads are great, but for a sensitive gut, raw vegetables can lead to bloating and pain.
4 Increase the amount of healthy fat you consume — avocados, olives, fatty fish and nuts and seeds are all excellent sources. Don’t be afraid of good fats.
Dr Cole urges people not to be afraid of good fats, including fatty fish (stock image)
5 Healthy food isn’t just for the wealthy. All the foods I mention in my book are available in supermarkets.
6 Decrease the foods that cause inflammation. The main culprit is going to be refined sugar and processed grains.
‘I think (via Goop) she’s giving people tools to have agency over their health and we are definitely on the same page with how we see healthcare,’ he says.
Intuitive Fasting centres on a four-week plan of intermittent fasting, where food can only be eaten during a specific window: 12 hours in the first and fourth weeks, six hours in the second and four hours in the third.
When food can be consumed, it’s low carb and low sugar. The aim is to improve general wellbeing, with the claimed benefits including: regulated hormones and blood sugar levels, improved sleep, concentration and energy. There are also tweaks to the plan for those who also want to lose weight.
And Gwyneth credits the ‘Will Cole effect’ with easing the symptoms of long Covid. She revealed on her Goop website: ‘I turned to one of the smartest experts I know in this space, Dr Will Cole. After he saw all my labs [test results], he explained that this was a case where the road to healing was going to be longer than usual.’
While following his plan she says: ‘I fast until 11am every day. I’m accustomed to cleanses, but something more freewheeling like Will’s plan has definitely been more of an adjustment.
Will says: ‘I meet people who are struggling with health issues and then people like Gwyneth who are good and are very healthy and are looking to optimise their health and take it to the next level.’
Given she works out for two hours a day and mostly eats ‘clean’, what could the ‘next level’ mean?
He explains: ‘We ran labs (blood tests) and we looked at things to fine-tune and tweak and really enhance her health. She wanted to boost her energy levels, she wanted to improve how she felt throughout the day.’
Despite criticism, he also believes she takes her responsibilities as a health influencer seriously.
‘She has a whole science and medical team that checks and backs everything that they say.’
While endorsement from an A-list superstar is one thing, Dr Cole doesn’t want people to think that his book and methods are just for the super-rich.
‘From 8am until 6pm, all day long I am consulting patients and so is my team. We take that very seriously and 99 per cent of my patients are regular people,’ he says.
‘Teachers, engineers and nurses are my top database. You improve somebody’s health and their inflammation markers improve, their hormones improve, their digestion improves. Improving your health isn’t just for celebrities.’
That may be so but his ‘regular people’ still have to find $780 (£550) for a one-hour consultation with him or $497 (£350) with one of his colleagues. After that patients can expect to pay anything up to an additional $5,000 (£3,550) for a full nutritional programme.
Around 75 per cent of his patients are women aged 40 to 60 and, yes, some of them are in the UK.
He says: ‘The appeal of fasting is that it’s free, anybody can do it — celebrity or a regular person.
‘My plan is not aggressive — these aren’t long water fasts or juice fasts. We’re talking about very flexible fasting windows. And you’re eating ample amounts of food on the plan, just in specific windows because that’s what all the research points towards when it comes to reaping the benefits.’
Dr Will’s method is based around something he calls ‘Ketotarian eating’, a mostly plant-based Mediterranean diet that encourages the body to go into ‘ketosis’, where it burns fat for fuel.
The book is full of the sort of healthy recipes you can just picture Gwyneth sitting down to eat such as ‘smashed bean wraps’ and ‘cauliflower tabbouleh’.
But surely even movie stars and lifestyle gurus fall off the wagon occasionally? I’m hoping Will might bend the rules of patient confidentiality a tad when I ask what Gwyneth’s go-to naughty treat is. A pepperoni pizza perhaps? A bar of chocolate?
‘We both love this brand called The Coconut Cult and they make a non-dairy coconut yoghurt that’s so delicious and I know she enjoys that,’ says Dr Cole, naming something that most people would class as a health food and pat themselves on the back for eating.
Although, in reassuring Gwynnie style, the yoghurt, not available in the UK, does cost £20 a jar.