To GOOP or not to GOOP

Picture from Goop site.

Picture from Goop site.

If it’s good enough for Gwyneth Paltrow it’s good enough for me - right?

Starting your day off with a morning smoothie certainly sounds “healthy”, but here at Meal Garden we like to dig a bit deeper than that.

To get you up to speed incase you aren’t already in the know when it comes to the excitement (and controversy) surrounding the pricey blended cocktail that Gwyneth likes to wake up to each day, I’ll give you a quick run down. “GOOP” was originally featured in The 2016 goop Detox, and has since been targeted for the recipe’s steep price-tag and a possible lack of scientific evidence to support why it’s so “detoxing” anyways.

I’m not here to jump on the bandwagon bashing all things GP - she’s clearly just trying to share her own insights on healthy eating and help people live happier, more nutritious lives. Nothing wrong with that in my books, in fact, I think it's admirable - regardless of how much she might be making off this little venture of hers.

With that said, I’m also NOT about blindly supporting a diet plan or recipe guide that isn’t backed by facts. When it comes to food choices, science wins. Every time.

Luckily for me, I have access to Meal Garden’s trusted health algorithm, so it’s a simple matter of sending in the [link to the] recipe, and seeing what sort of health rating it receives once it’s uploaded to my cookbook.

Even MORE lucky for me, I work at Meal Garden, which means I get first-hand access to our Health Council. This time around, I turned to Elena Stoiko - our recipe manager and health and nutrition expert - for her own insight on GOOP.

Never thought I’d be doing investigative reporting on “GOOP”, but back to the point…

The smoothie might be a healthy addition to your own meal plan, and so while we’ll be advocates for scheduling it to your calendar - there’s more you might want to know. Specifically, the ingredients have certain questionable claims, and it's important to understand if the ingredients are really worthwhile. This is exactly what Elena went out to determine for us.

The 4 ingredients (maca, ashwagandha, ho shou wu, cordyceps) in the smoothie advertise specific health claims such as helping the body adapt to stress and balancing hormones, and supporting thyroid, immune and brain function. When you see a recipe with all these ingredients you should consider, where these ingredients come from, what is their intended purpose, and how valid are the claims made about them. An excellent resource to use in order to do this is  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php -->  it outlines the regulations behind NHP’s (Natural Health Products) in Canada.

Fact over fiction. Science over trend. A no-nonsense approach.

Note that those four ingredients just mentioned would be considered Natural Health Products in Canada (Dietary Supplements in USA), and are therefore regulated by Health Canada under the Natural Health Products Regulations. But what does a “Natural Health Product” even really mean? The answer is a “naturally occurring substance that is used to restore or maintain good health” in accordance with its recommended conditions of use.

In order for a NHP to be sold in Canada it must meet the following criteria:

  1. Must have a product licence, and a site licence which indicate that the medicinal ingredients, source, dose, potency, non-medicinal ingredients and recommended use have been reviewed

  2. Specific labelling and packaging requirements must be met, with good manufacturing practices

  3. Once a product is deemed safe for sale, a Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) is issued.

Back to GOOP. The 4 ingredients featured in the smoothie recipe can be found as components in the existing Licensed Natural Health Products database, but the products themselves are not found there - check it out for yourself here. Individual monographs of each ingredient exist for some, this just means that there is less evidence to support the effects of the ingredient.

This isn’t “bad” as much as it isn’t clearly in-your-face “good”. Is the smoothie “healthy”? Yes. Is it going to change your life and make you a more beautiful detoxified person? The evidence for that is missing, at least in Canadian nutritional databases.

But hey - did GP ever state that this recipe is going to change your life? Nope. While some of the individual claims for each particular ingredient may be getting a bit carried away (i.e. “sex dust”), the basic recipe itself is sound.

Here’s a version I whipped up that’s a bit more doable...it may not be GOOP, but it serves me well in the morning!

Click for recipe.

Click for recipe.

 

GP's Morning GOOP Smoothie - Refined

 

So what’s the final verdict here? Elena explains with 4 simple tips...

  • It is important to understand how claims work on Natural Health Products, because it can seem like they promise a lot. Be critical to the supporting evidence, and consider if the product is essential. With some NHP’s (ex. vitamin supplements), consider trying to get them from food sources in your diet.
  • Look for proper labeling and licensing on NHP’s, and research them on Health Canada’s licensed products webpage or Ingredient Monograph web page for its NHPID name, purpose, dose, and risk information.
  • Clinical trials are not always necessary for the licensing of NHP’s (as is the case with pharmaceuticals-regulated under the Food and Drug Regulations), depending on the risk associated with intake. It is important to recognize what evidence is required in order to put a claim on a product, which can range from minimal to extensive.
  • Always consult your GP or RD when taking NHP’s to ensure it is safe for your own health.

At the end of the day, Gwyneth is a lover of all things organic, clean, and healthy - and that ain’t a crime! In fact, I myself send in loads of recipes I find on Goop’s recipe blog so I can have the collection saved in my own Meal Garden cookbook. Most of them come out delightfully healthy, so controversial or not, I’ll trust a scientific health algorithm before I trust the haters…