The unfortunate situation these days with our celebrity obsessed society is that we can be prone to following their unqualified advice or opinion on serious topics like health.
Everyday we are exposed to another fad diet or miracle cure happily endorsed by a singer, actor or model that can supersede the safe and professional advice from doctors or other suitably qualified individuals.
The problem arises when the information progresses from the silly and banal to a more dangerous level. The power of celebrity does have the ability to be a positive influence when the information being offered is of high quality and provides some kind of health benefit.
There have been many celebrities who have used their position to highlight health problems and raise awareness whether through their own experience or others but equally their are those whose advice should just be ignored.
Listed below are 20 of the most bizarre and outright dangerous pieces of celebrity health advice along with better alternatives.
1. Waist Training
Celebrity: Kim and Khloe Kardashian
Their Claim: The Kardashian sisters have extolled the virtues of waist training to all and sundry. This practice involves wrapping bands of very tight elastic material around the waist and lower rib cage to create the illusion of an hourglass figure and supposedly reshaping the body.
The Truth: Reminiscent of wearing a corset from the 19th century, this may make you look thinner and curvier but there is no evidence to support that it will help with weight loss or reshape your body. If anything it would hinder breathing and potentially make it hard to digest food.
The Bottom Line: Being active and having a balanced, nutritious eating plan is the best way to reshape the body.
2. Drinking Vinegar
Celebrity: Megan Fox
Their Claim: Ms Fox believes that drinking vinegar cleanses out your system entirely. If you are a woman who retains water weight during your cycle this miracle drink will get rid of it really fast.
The Truth: Apple Cider Vinegar does have some anti-fungal properties and may help with food digestion but on its own it will not lead to a reduction in weight or bloating.
The Bottom Line: If you’re suffering from bloating this could be a sign of problems in the gut area. Some nutritional changes may be required to sort out the issues. A visit to your health professional to get advice on supporting a healthy gut and removing any underlying causes would be a good start.
3. No Sunscreen
Celebrity: Giselle Bundchen
Their Claim: Mrs Tom Brady is dead against putting any kind of poison on her skin. Nothing synthetic for the Brazilian supermodel.
The Truth: Malignant melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in Australia, it accounted for 10% of all cancers in 2011. Melanoma represents 2% of all skin cancers, but causes 75% of all skin cancer deaths.
The Bottom Line: Wear sunscreen. Protecting yourself from the sun is the best insurance against skin cancer. There is no solid, peer reviewed evidence that any of the ingredients in sunscreen cause cancer or any other health problems.
4. Living Off Light And Air
Celebrity: Valeria Lukyanova
Their Claim: Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova, known as the “Human Barbie”, is in training to live off only light and air. Until she reaches that point it’s a vegetable diet for her.
The Truth: You don’t need to be an expert to know this is absolute rubbish, and trying to live on light and air will kill you. That crazy claim aside, a completely vegetable diet would leave the body deficient in very important nutrients like Vitamin B12 which is crucial for our red blood cells.
The Bottom Line: A balanced approach to eating that does include vegetables is important. Vegans and vegetarians are able to get all the vitamins and nutrients needed for good health with careful planning and some supplementation.
5. Oxygen In A Can
Celebrity: Simon Cowell
Their Claim: The Celebrity Talent Judge attributes his “youthful look” from swigging on shots of oxygen from a can he carries around.
The Truth: There is no evidence to support the use of this practice for healthy individuals unless you have a diagnosed condition and require oxygen. If oxygen is inhaled in too large amounts unconsciousness may follow.
The Bottom Line: The best way to get more oxygen is to increase your heart rate with some exercise. You’ll breath in more air and improve the health of your heart and lungs at the same time.
6. The Master Cleanse
Their Claim: Beyonce has become the most famous endorser of the Master Cleanse. It is an extreme 14-day diet that involves consuming nothing but a concoction of fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water.
The Truth: The detox fad has little evidence to support its grand claims of removing toxins from your body. The liver and kidneys do a great job of that already. The extreme nature of these diets put you at risk of dizziness, fatigue in the short-term but the long-term health risks like heart attacks are a real concern.
The Bottom Line: Ditch the extreme diets and rapid weight loss as they are short lived and not much fun. Focus on good protein, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and smart, high fibre carbs like brown rice in smaller amounts.
7. Fistfuls Of Vitamins
Celebrity: Katy Perry
Their Claim: Katy Perry has admitted to taking up to 26 vitamins and supplements everyday.
The Truth: The issue with taking a large number of pills and supplements is the cocktail of chemicals and other additives contained in them. Individually they’ve been tested for safety but not in combination with all of the other tablets.
Potentially you could be over consuming the safe amount of these nutrients by mixing supplements.
The Bottom Line: Supplements would only be recommended when there is a identified nutrient deficiency. For everyone else a wide variety of whole, minimally processed foods are the best approach. If you’re concerned about anything specific seek out professional help.
8. Smart Water
Celebrity: Jennifer Aniston
Their Claim: Another celebrity touting the benefits of modified water to supposedly improve its health benefits and make you look amazing.
The Truth: We all know the importance of water and its role in body function. Drinking too much can have a negative effect so be careful that you don’t over consume.
The Bottom Line: Your body will let you know when you’re thirsty so have a drink then.
9. Go Gluten Free!
Celebrity: Miley Cyrus
Their Claim: She loudly proclaimed that “Everyone should go gluten free for a week”. She went on to say that it changes your skin, improves mental and physical health and that you won’t go back!
The Truth: The only reason you would go gluten free would be if you had been diagnosed with coeliac disease, which is an autoimmune disease where the body is hypersensitive to digesting gluten. The symptoms include bloating, pain and stomach cramps. There is no need to remove gluten if you’re not allergic or intolerant.
The Bottom Line: If you feel that you have a gluten issue then making an appointment with your doctor would be suggested before making any arbitrary dietary changes.
10. The HCG Diet
Celebrity: Laura Prepon
Their Claim: The “Orange Is The New Black” star admitted to following crazy crash diets that apparently ruined her metabolism and then she found the HCG diet. It involves being injected with a hormone that is extracted from the urine of pregnant women. When following the diet you severely restrict your calorie intake and receive shots of this hormone all with the idea of resetting your metabolism.
The Truth: The HCG diet has no peer reviewed evidence or been approved by any regulatory board. Side effects have included excess fluid build-up, swelling and blood clots.
The Bottom Line: There are no secret tricks or hacks when it comes to weight loss. The truth is regular activity and a balanced diet is the best long-term solution.
11. Stop Taking Depression Medication
Celebrity: Tom Cruise
Their Claim: Tom Cruise was criticised years ago when he publicly attacked actress Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants to help her with postpartum depression. He claimed that any chemical imbalance in the brain was imaginary and that taking medication for mental health illness is unnecessary and dangerous.
The Truth: Depression and postpartum depression are very real and complicated conditions. Taking antidepressants are not a treatment for everyone but they do provide help for many people who have suffered and want to get their lives back on track.
The Bottom Line: If you feel that things are getting tough and you’re not coping then speak to your doctor. They can then suggest an appropriate course of treatment that may involve therapy, counselling or medication.
12. Mmmm Cookies
Celebrity: Kim Kardashian
Their Claim: Another diet product from a Kardashian, this time it was the Cookie Diet. You eat two low-glycaemic cookies for breakfast and lunch and then a light dinner.
The Truth: A narrow restrictive diet like this lacks fruits and vegetables and dietary fibre so it would not be a recommended. At some stage when you return to your normal eating habits any weight lost would return.
The Bottom Line: As suggested already, a diet that has a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and high fibre carbohydrates is the best solution for long-term health and weight control.
13. The Leech Detox
Celebrity: Demi Moore
Their Claim: Apparently leech therapy detoxes the blood according to Demi Moore. When the leeches attach to you they have a little enzyme that is released into your bloodstream detoxes the blood and optimizes your health according to Ms Moore.
The Truth: Leeches have been a legitimate treatment in modern medicine in areas such as healing skin grafts and restoring circulation. Another miracle detoxifying claim is dubious at best and has no evidence to support its claims.
14. Oestrogen Injections
Celebrity: Suzanne Somers
Their Claim: Actress Suzanne Somers was at the forefront of a strange practice of rubbing Oestrogen cream into her arms and injecting Oestrogen directly into her vagina. She claimed that the hormones could fool her body into thinking she was 30 years younger.
The Truth: The evidence to support this bizarre treatment is non-existent. Adding extra, unnecessary hormones into the body can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots and cancer.
The Bottom Line: Smoking and drinking are a good way to age the body faster. Living a little healthier and more active life is a more practical and safe way to do this than introducing more hormones.
15. Fighting Those Evil Genes
Celebrity: Gwyneth Paltrow
Their Claim: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, when addressing delegates at a cancer conference in 2007 told them she was conquering her “evil genes” by eating biological foods.
The Truth: While you can reduce the incidence of some cancers with certain diets the same cannot be said for other cancers with regards to nutrition.
The Bottom Line: The cause of cancer is linked to many different factors but a balanced healthy diet with fruits, vegetables and other high fibre foods can assist in reducing the risk of cancer.
16. Vaccines Are Responsible For Autism
Celebrity: Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey
Their Claim: These two celebrities are some of the most high-profile anti-vaxxers. Jenny McCarthy is an outspoken critic of childhood vaccines and is convinced that they cause autism. She believes that the chemicals and toxins as well as the viruses in the vaccines are responsible.
The Truth: The World Health Organisation and many other health bodies are in agreement that there is no evidence to support the idea that vaccines cause autism.
The Bottom Line: A disease like Measles, which is in the top 5 killers in the world of children under 5 years old, is nearly non-existent thanks to vaccines. Vaccines are safe.
17. The Blood Group Diet
Celebrity: Cheryl Cole
Their Claim: Cheryl Cole loves the blood group diet. Like any diet it restricts foods based on what they can tolerate according to their blood type. The faulty logic is based the idea that certain blood types can only handle particular foods.
The Truth: There is absolutely no evidence to support this idea and is pseudoscience at best. When restriction is enforced you increase the chances of serious nutrient deficiencies.
The Bottom Line: A diet high in whole foods with a balance of whole grains, fruit and vegetables and lean proteins works best. From there any further details will be decided by your goals, activity levels and any food allergies or intolerances.
18. Eat Only Purple Food
Celebrity: Mariah Carey
Their Claim: In one of the more crazy realms of dietary lunacy comes the idea that eating only purple food three days a week would help Mariah Carey lose weight and fight off the signs of her skin aging.
The Truth: There are many purple foods like beetroot, plums, grapes and dark skinned apples that are very nutritious. They are high in anti-oxidants which can help with reducing the impact of aging as well as potentially reduce cancer risk but focusing on a narrow range of foods will lead to nutrient deficiencies and a lack of fibre.
The Bottom Line: Eat a wide and varied diet of whole, fresh foods that provides all the vitamins and nutrients needed for good health.
19. Vaginal Steaming
Celebrity: Gwyneth Paltrow
Their Claim: Gwyneth takes the cake for some of the wackiest and flat out dangerous health advice. She was widely criticised and lampooned for suggesting that women steam clean their uteruses to balance out hormone levels.
The Truth: Following such an unnecessary and potentially dangerous practice could lead to upsetting the internal bacterial balance which could result in infections and excess yeast levels.
The Bottom Line: If you have a concern see your doctor or if everything is ok, do nothing.
20. The Juice Diet
Celebrity: Katie Price
Their Claim: Katie Price is not the first nor will she be the last celebrity to extol the virtues of an all juice diet. Her motivation was purely driven by her looks and weight.
The Truth: While it may seem like a convenient and easy solution it again has the potential to restrict the amount of important nutrients that a variety of foods offer. You’ll feel weak and lethargic as well as miss out on the all-important fibre that eating fruit provides.
The Bottom Line: Stupid fad diets are responsible for people getting fatter not thinner. The short-term results don’t last and eventually the weight returns and you can end up heavier than when you started. A long-term approach with behavioural and lifestyle change works best.
As you can see there are some truly crazy and outright harmful pieces of health advice that are given out by people who are not qualified to be recommending anything apart from their next movie, song or reality show.
Companies pay big dollars to have celebrities promote their product or service so the endorsement is not necessarily because they believe in it or that it has merit but more that their comments were paid for.
When it comes to your health it's worth doing some research to find out if the claims are true or if it's just marketing hype. It's very rare that you would see a celebrity promoting a banana or an apple because they don't need endorsement but the same can't be said for a new fad diet or miracle cure.