Gwyneth Paltrow refers to her long covid when responding to bone broth backlash

A number of people had a bone broth option after actress and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow said, “I have bone broth for lunch most days,” on a recent podcast. They expressed concern that such a statement suggesting that Paltrow only has bone broth for lunch could promote undereating, malnutrition and cheese disorders for those who follow her. Well, on March 17, Paltrow responded to such criticism by explaining on an Instagram story the long and short of why she said what she said. Paltrow shared that “for over two years now dealing with some chronic things and I’ve had long-term Covid” and “the way it manifests for me is very high levels of inflammation over time, so I’ve been working with Dr. Cole to really focus on foods that are not inflammatory. So lots of vegetables, cooked vegetables, all kinds of proteins, healthy carbs to really reduce inflammation, and it’s worked really well.”

The Dr. Cole that Paltrow was referring to is Will Cole, DC, DNM, who is not a physician. He is also not a registered dietician. Rather, as Cole indicates on his website, he is a “Functional Medicine Practitioner (IFMCP), Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM) and Doctor of Chiropractic (DC)” and therefore provides the following disclaimer: “I do not practice medicine and do not diagnose or treat diseases or medical conditions.” His website adds, “My services are not intended to replace or replace those of a physician, but my programs are intended to work in conjunction with them.” Of course, long Covid is actually a real medical condition, one that affected an estimated 7.5% of all Americans, as of mid-2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This included an estimated 9.4% of women and 5.5% of men.

The pop culture site Pop Crave posted clips of both Paltrow’s Instagram response as well as a TikTok video of her original remarks on “The Art of Being Well” podcast hosted by Cole:

As you can see in the video, Paltrow emphasized in her Instagram response that her statements on the podcast about her diet “were not meant to be advice for anyone else. It’s really just what’s worked for me and it’s been really powerful and very positive.” She went on to say, “This is not to say that I eat this way all day every day.” She added, “By the way, I’m way more than bone broth and vegetables. I eat full meals. And I also have a lot of days where I can eat whatever I want and eat fries and whatever.” She concluded by saying, “But my baseline has really been to try to be healthy and eat foods that will really calm the system down. So I hope that helps.”

That clarification could potentially help anyone left with the impression from Paltrow’s original statements that it’s somehow OK to just have bone broth or coffee with a meal. During the podcast she had said things like “I do a nice intermittent fasting. I usually eat something around 12,” and, “In the morning I want something that won’t spike my blood sugar…like coffee,” as well as, “I like soup for lunch. I have bone broth for lunch many days.”

Bone broth, which is made by simmering animal bones in a pot of water and vinegar, can have vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin K2, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. It may also have cartilage components such as glucosamine and chondroitin. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing to sip or drink. But like a tanga for a job interview, bone broth alone is not enough for a meal. Coffee alone can be even worse for a meal as it doesn’t provide the same nutrients as a bone broth and contains caffeine, which is a diuretic, meaning you pee more.

It would have been better for either Cole or Paltrow to have clarified immediately during the podcast that she was not recommending that people only have bone broth, coffee or just some kind of liquid with their meals. The key to maintaining good health and an appropriate body weight is a balanced, sustainable diet and not taking drastic, serious steps. The most suitable diet for one person may not be the most suitable for you or others. That is why the concept of precision nutrition has emerged, as I described on August 15, 2022, for Forbes. The idea is that different people’s bodies, surroundings and circumstances are different. So one-size-fits-all diets and nutritional recommendations don’t really work. Instead, the dietary advice must be more adapted to different individuals.

Without knowing Paltrow’s actual medical test results and physical exam findings, it’s hard to say whether Cole’s guidance has actually worked. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines prolonged Covid, otherwise known as Post COVID-19 condition, as “The continuation or development of new symptoms 3 months after the first SARS-CoV-2 infection, with these symptoms lasting for at least 2 months without other explanation.” SARS-CoV-2 stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), you know the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic and that some people have tried to ignore. Common long-term Covid symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, persistent cough, chest pain, difficulty speaking, muscle pain, loss of smell or taste, depression, anxiety and fever. There have not yet been enough studies to determine which treatments actually work against long-term Covid and how long Covid can last.

Eating lots of vegetables is reasonable advice regardless of whether you have long-term Covid. Many vegetables are naturally rich in fiber and nutrients, while being relatively low in sodium and saturated fat. The emphasis here, however, is on the word mass. A single string bean does not constitute a meal.

The statements about bone broth and coffee certainly weren’t the only questionable things said on “The Art of Being Well” podcast. I’ve already covered that Forbes “means” that should have been added after Paltrow made a claim about rectal ozone therapy and her line about IV therapy on the podcast. Throughout the podcast, Cole did not appear to question the medical validity of such claims or provide concrete scientific evidence to support them.

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