And the winner (or loser?) is...
Whenever Gwyneth Paltrow or Tom Brady comes forward with another unconventional health tip (vagina steaming, refusing to eat tomatoes—you get the point) critics come out with torches blazing. Take the recent recirculation of the football star’s “drink water and you won’t get a sunburn” advice from his book published a couple months ago, The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance—which has once again prompted fans and haters to get riled up, round-two.
Some people, and even media outlets, have gone on to equate the pseudoscience-y food, fitness, and medical advice from Brady’s The TB12 Method with that of Paltrow’s controversial wellness site, Goop. So we thought, what could be more entertaining than putting the A-listers’ most outlandish words of wellness wisdom side by side to see who is really living the most ludicrous healthy lifestyle? Check out our face-off below.
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Gwyneth says: “The lifestyle I lead is based not just on clean eating, but also on clean sleeping: at least seven or eight hours of good, quality sleep—and ideally even ten,” she wrote in her book Clean Beauty (as excerpted by the Daily Mail). In other words, get enough sleep, even potentially more than you may need, on a regular basis.
Tom says: Going to bed in pajamas made of far infrared (FIR) technology can improve sleep and recovery. In January, Under Armour released UA Athlete Recovery Sleepwear Powered by TB12—Tom's brand—which the company says feature a “soft, bioceramic print on the inside of the sleepwear that absorbs natural heat and reflects far infrared back to the skin, helping the body sleep better and recover faster.”
The wiser words? Gwyneth’s. Clocking 7 to 8 hours of solid rest is age-old good sleep advice. (Although it’s probably not realistic—or even necessary—to get a full 10 hours every night.)
The term “clean sleeping” also hits on the concept of sleep hygiene, or setting up your bedtime environment and evening routine to promote good sleep. Clean sleeping could include powering down electronics within an hour of going to bed, dimming the lights in your bedroom in the evening to signal to your brain and body that it’s time to enter sleep mode, and taking a warm bath to wind down. (Here are even more tips for how you can makeover your bedtime routine.) We're on board.
Let’s talk high-tech PJs: They may not be total bogus. There are bioceramic materials that absorb heat (like from the human body) and emit it as far infrared radiation. Small studies have suggested that gloves made of FIR-emitting fabrics can be used to treat hand arthritis and Raynaud’s syndrome, and that a blanket containing FIR-emitting discs could potentially improve sleep quality. A 2015 study of (only 10) athletic men also suggested that infrared sauna bathing may help aid muscle recovery after strength and endurance training.
But more research needs to be done to prove the effects of far infrared technology in clothing on sleep and muscle recovery specifically. (One TIME writer actually tried Brady's PJs and found that, while it may have been a placebo effect, his body did feel strong and pain-free after wearing them, but his sleep didn't improve.)
Gwyneth says: “Usually, I just try to eat pretty clean during the day—good proteins and lots of vegetables and not too much grain or sugar, and nothing baked—and then I tend to eat whatever I want for dinner,” the star said back in February. (Paltrow seems to have become more lenient with her food intake over the years, moving away from a strict macrobiotic diet, but still enduring an occasional crazy cleanse as the Goop “guinea pig.”)
Tom says: Avoid refined carbs and unhealthy fats, and limit dairy, salt, alcohol, and caffeine. These are the principles behind the alkaline diet that Brady follows. He describes it in his book as “a nutritional regimen that’s made up of 80 percent alkaline and 20 percent acidic foods.” He also added that he rarely eats nightshade vegetables, noting that they are not anti-inflammatory.
The wiser words? It’s a draw. Gwyneth’s approach to dieting may sound more reasonable for the average person. “But the ‘eat whatever I want for dinner’ part gives me pause,” says Health’s contributing nutrition editor, Cynthia Sass, RD. “I have clients who eat very clean and healthfully during the day, but really go all out in the evening—a few glasses of wine, a comfort food meal, ice cream—and this pattern doesn’t lead to weight loss or optimal health.” Now, if you enjoy a reasonably healthy dinner, that may be a different story, Sass points out.
Brady’s alkaline eating food philosophy is probably more much difficult for the average person to sustain, Sass warns. “But if you can follow Tom’s approach 80% of the time, allowing for some splurges, it may lead to more optimal results, depending on your goals.” The theory behind eating mostly alkaline foods is that the diet can help balance your body's pH levels, Sass previously explained in a blog post. While this has yet to be proven, she noted, following the rules of an alkaline diet—going easy on sugar, salt, processed foods, and excess animal protein and eating more plant-based overall—is a “natural route to healthier eating.”
But if you’re wondering whether you should avoid nightshade vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, for example) like Brady does, the answer is probably not. “Most people should eat them. There is little scientific research to back up the idea that nightshades are inflammatory,” Sass wrote in a separate blog post on the topic. Her big caveat: If you're injured or have an inflammatory condition, like arthritis, and want to see if nixing nightshades alleviates symptoms, try cutting them out of your diet for one month and see if it helps.
Gwyneth says: Use a mineral sunscreen, but steer clear of chemical types. “I don’t understand why anyone would put on carcinogens,” she said in an interview with the New York Times. And while we don’t know if Paltrow had a part in writing and reporting this Goop article titled “The 8 Best Clean Sunscreens,” it states that chemical sunscreens use ingredients, such as oxybenzone and avobenzone, that are “hormone and endocrine disruptors … and can interfere with everything from our reproductive systems to our metabolism.”
Tom says: Drink lots of water and you won’t get a sunburn. Brady penned in his book that even if he’s out in the sun for a while, he won’t get a sunburn, “which I credit to the amount of water I drink … I always hydrate afterward, too, to keep my skin from peeling.”
The wiser words? Gwyneth’s. We’re happy to hear that she is a believer when it comes to wearing some type of sunscreen. That being said, Goop isn’t on the money regarding chemical-based sunblocks. The major difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens is this: Mineral blockers, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, give you immediate protection; they sit on top of the skin, as opposed to penetrating it as chemical blockers do. (That’s why you must apply chemical-based sunscreen 20 minutes before heading outdoors.) But no scientific research shows that sunscreen—including kinds with oxybenzone and avobenzone—can cause health or hormonal problems in humans, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
As for Brady’s use of H2O as a sun blocker? There’s also no evidence to suggest that you’re any less prone to sunburns when you are well-hydrated—so we advise him to wear sunscreen, chemical- or mineral-based.
Gwyneth says: Supplements have the potential to make you feel less tired, reboot your metabolism, and boost your immune system. Goop came out with a vitamin line with packets named Why Am I So Effing Tired, High School Genes, and others touted to fix related health ailments and more. Paltrow told Fast Company, “One common confusion for people who are interested in wellness or optimizing their health is they think, ‘I should take a vitamin, but I don’t know what to take and why.'"
Tom says: “I’m a big believer in the smart use of certain supplements,” he wrote in his book. “Along with electrolytes and trace mineral drops, every day I take a multivitamin, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, an antioxidant, essential fish oils, protein powder, and a probiotic.”
The wiser words? Neither. Most experts agree that the average healthy adult probably does not need an extensive supplement regimen. "Dietary supplements are not necessary nor proven helpful for the average person," David S. Seres, MD, director of medical nutrition and associate professor of medicine at Columbia Medical Center, previously told Health. "For the most part, [they're] an unnecessary expense and may, in some instances, be dangerous."
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Popping vitamins and minerals in higher doses than the daily recommendations (which you can most likely meet just by eating a well-balanced diet day to day) is not necessarily better for you, Dr. Seres explained. Plus, you can actually overdo it. Take magnesium, for example: Too much can bring on icky symptoms, like diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping. Other less-studied supplement ingredients—think herbs or plants, like Echinacea or gingko—may not have enough scientific research behind them to say for certain whether they are safe for the average person.
The bottom line: Try to get all of your vitamins and minerals through a healthy diet, and always consult your doctor before taking any type of supplement to make sure it’s safe (and a worthy investment!) for you.
Who takes home the win?
We’ll leave it at a tie.
For what it’s worth, Brady stresses in the book that his diet and health beliefs work for him. "My regimen works for what I'm asking my body to do. In the end, it's balance in all things," he wrote. Paltrow, too, acknowledges that her wellness advice—and her brand—may not be for everyone, and she's fine with that. (She even exclaimed, “I don’t know what the fuck we talk about [on Goop]!" to Jimmy Kimmel—uh huh.)
With any celeb health advice, take it with a grain of salt and do your research before following suit.