Opinion: Let's Stop Taking Celebrity Advice on Health
TAKING CELEBRITY ADVICE ON HEALTH IS GETTING OUT OF HAND
Tom Brady is a hotshot celebrity NFL player, if you haven't heard of him before. If you have heard of him, and watch the NFL to any extent, you either love him with a passion, or hate him with one. So, as plenty of celebrities tend to do, Tom Brady recently came out with a book back in September. (We're all talking about it now because he was in the Super Bowl this past season.) The kicker? It's not about his NFL career, or his family, or anything along those lines. No -- it's about his diet.
That might be okay if it didn't try to go off about the 'science' behind what he eats, and how it lowers his PH balance, and help speed recovery to the body.
Vox.com covered this story, having spoke to scientists about Brady's health claims. They asked Stuart Phillips, a professor in the department of kinesiology at McMaster University, about Brady's claim that his diet effects the PH balance (lowering it, specifically) in his body. He told Vox:"It’s next to impossible — in fact, I can’t think of an instance — where people have been able to change their blood pH with diet. So there’s zero foundation for the notion that alkaline and acid foods [are] able to do anything to your body.”
His anti-inflammatory diet (which, to be noted, is not bad in itself) doesn't speed his recovery as he claims, either. At least, there's not scientific backing for that claim. "I don’t know a morsel of new scientific knowledge [supporting] what Tom Brady would like for you, that his dietary practice is linked to his career longevity or his success as an athlete.” Phillips had continued with Vox. They had asked others, too, who said that the only post-excerise diet that had been scientifically shown to speed body recovery is "is getting enough carbohydrates to replenish glycogen that’s been depleted after a workout, or protein to help with muscle building."
Tom Brady is Far From Being the Only Celebrity to Spread Pseudoscience On Health, And He's Not the Worst Either
As Vox explained, Tom Brady's diet is actually good for you (though it is a little on the extreme side), and if you were to follow his diet, you most likely wouldn't hurt yourself. Though, it should be noted that any major diet change should be expressed to a doctor, because every diet effects everyone differently. The harm of following celebrity advice though, for reasons that are not based in science is a real issue however.
Take Gwyneth Paltrow, who we have discussed before. She is arguably the worst offender in spreading health pseudoscience in recent history. The celebrity, probably known to most as playing Pepper Potts in recent years, has her own website in which is is constantly writing about the health benefits of stickers and putting external items into specific holes in your body (don't do this unless it has been recommended by your doctor). When explaining her supposed science on these topics, she doesn't ever mention her supposed experts, and she has been known to block her critics on social media, which doesn't add any credibility to her.
Then take supposed celebrity doctors as Doctor Oz, who has been in court many times for advertising false claims, and you have a major problem on your hands.
This Common Problem Really Shouldn't Be One
You'd think it would be common sense not to listen to everything anyone spouts off. You would also think it common sense to not blindly follow someone just because they are rich and you see them on your television all the time... however. This is where we run into this problem. People blindly following their idols, the men and women they look up to because they seemed to have "made it". So they must know what's going on! They must have the best diet, fit for everyone.
The bottom line is that they don't.
People have a very hard time thinking for themselves in cases like this. There is actually a diagnosable mental illness known as celebrity worship syndrome. "Anxiety, depression, high stress levels, poor body image, isolation, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors: All of these have been linked to celebrity worship syndrome because the patient's energy is focused entirely on someone who may not even know who they are," Says Medical Daily.
This gives way for these celebrities, whether they mean to or not (and many of them do mean to in order to sell products) to hurt their fans. Health claims that are not based in science are everywhere in our society, constantly. It doesn't help in the least that some of these claims are being peddled by people who know that they have a very large following that will do anything they say, or buy anything that they promote. People as a whole really need to stop looking to celebrity advice on maybe anything, but especially as far as health goes.
If you need health or diet advice, go visit your doctor. They have been medically trained in fields that these celebrity figures have not been.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mariah Loeber is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FemSTEM.com. She studies English and is a huge fan of things STEM. Find her on Twitter.