A number of folks had a bone broth to pick after actress and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow had said, “I have bone broth for lunch a lot of the days,” on a recent podcast. They expressed concern that such a statement suggesting that Paltrow has only bone broth for lunch might promote undereating, undernutrition, and easting disorders to those following 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 related that “for over two years now to deal with some chronic stuff, and I have long 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 aren’t inflammatory. So lots of vegetables, cooked vegetables, all kinds of protein, healthy carbs to really lower inflammation and it’s been working really well.”
The Dr. Cole whom Paltrow referred to is Will Cole, DC, DNM, who is not a medical doctor. He is not a registered dietitian either. 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 meant to substitute or replace those of a medical doctor but my programs are meant to work in conjunction with them.” Of course, long Covid is actually a real medical condition, one that was affecting 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 statements 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 has worked for me, and it’s been very 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 far more than bone broth and vegetables. I eat full meals. And I also have a lot of days of eating whatever I want and eating French fries and whatever.” She concluded by sayin, “But my baseline really has been to try to be healthy and to 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 is somehow OK to have just bone broth or coffee for a meal. During the podcast, she had said things like “I do a nice intermittent fast. I usually eat something about 12,” and, “In the morning, I’ll have some things that won’t spike my blood sugar…like coffee,” as well as, “I really like soup for lunch. I have bone broth for lunch a lot of the days.”
Bone broth, which is made by simmering animal bones in a pot of water and vinegar, may have vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin K2, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. It also may have cartilage components such as glucosamine and chondroitin. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing to sip or drink. However, like a thong for a job interview, bone broth alone is not enough for a meal. Coffee alone may be even worse for a meal since it doesn’t offer the same nutrients as a bone broth and contains caffeine, which is a diuretic, meaning that makes 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 just have bone broth, coffee, or just some kind of liquid for meals. The key to maintaining good health and an appropriate body weight is a balance, sustainable diet and not taking drastic, severe steps. The most appropriate diet for one person may not be the most appropriate one for you or others. That’s why the concept of precision nutrition has emerged, which I described on August 15, 2022, for Forbes. The thought is that different people’s bodies, surroundings, and circumstances differ. So one-size-fits-all diets and nutrition recommendations do not really work. Instead, dietary advice needs to be more tailored to different individuals.
Without knowing Paltrow’s actual medical test results and physical exam findings, it is difficult to tell whether the guidance from Cole has actually been working. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines long Covid, otherwise known as Post COVID-19 Condition, as “The continuation or development of new symptoms 3 months after the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection, with these symptoms lasting for at least 2 months with no other explanation.” SARS-CoV-2 stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), you know that virus that has been causing the Covid-19 pandemic and that some people have been trying to ignore. Common long Covid symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, sleep issues, persistent cough, chest pain trouble speaking, muscle aches, loss of smell or taste, depression, anxiety, and fever. There haven’t yet been enough studies to determine what treatments actually work against long Covid and how long long Covid may last.
Eating lots of vegetables is reasonable advice regardless of whether you have long Covid. Lots of vegetables are naturally rich in fiber and nutrients, while being relatively low in sodium and saturated fats. The emphasis here, though, is on the word lots. One single string bean does not constitute a meal.
The bone broth and coffee statements certainly weren’t the only questionable things said on “The Art of Being Well” podcast. I have already covered for Forbes the “buts” 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 didn’t seem to question the medical validity of such claims or provide real concrete scientific evidence to support them.