Celebrity diets: fad or fab?

Celebrities can do just about anything to stay in shape. Earlier this year, American TV series Mad Men actor January Jones revealed that she ate her own dehydrated placenta in the form of capsules, to fight depression and fatigue. Ashton Kutcher only ate fruits while making the 2013 film,Jobs.

We look at some weird diets that artistes reportedly follow to stay in shape or prepare for a role, and ask experts whether they are actually beneficial.

Activated charcoal detox

The followers: Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site Goop.com called the charcoal lemonade one of the “best juice cleanses” around.

What it involves: As a little black pill or ground into a vegetable juice, activated charcoal detox is the “it” thing in celebrity circles. It’s food-grade carbon made with regular charcoal; it is heated with gas to form pores which supposedly trap chemicals. The charcoal acts like a sponge in the digestive tract. It is supposed to cure everything from a hangover to skin dullness, low energy levels and flatulence.

Does it work? “Activated charcoal is a very powerful agent used to absorb all poisons and chemicals from the body,” says Shikha Sharma, founder of health management centre Nutri-Health Systems Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi. It’s used in the hospital emergency room, or for people with health problems like arthritis or toxin-related disorders. “To drink it once a month is okay for weight loss or skin improvement, but don’t go too frequent on it, since it can result in vitamin and mineral deficiency,” she says. Frequent use also decreases the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and medications.

Gluten-free diet

The followers: Paltrow and Miley Cyrus.

What it involves: All gluten sources like wheat, rye, barley and oats are removed from the diet. Recommended by doctors for those allergic or intolerant to wheat, the diet is now part of lifestyle dieting too.

Does it work? A study published in the Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics in 2012, which analysed the diet, did not recommend it as a means to eat healthier or to lose weight. “Though we consume much more wheat and products with gluten, like cakes and biscuits, we still need gluten in our daily diet,” says Madhuri Ruia, a Mintcolumnist and fitness professional who heads Integym in Mumbai. She recommends that if you are not allergic to gluten, aim to lower gluten intake rather than cutting it out completely.

The Breatharian diet

The followers: Madonna and Michelle Pfeiffer.

What it involves: This diet is all about living without food. Some dieters smell food instead of eating it, while some say they can live on sunlight and air. Continue reading “Celebrity diets: fad or fab?”