health

Shailene Woodley's latest health habit will make your skin crawl.

Image: via Letterman. Shailene Woodley shares her bone broth recipe.

Shailene Woodley, the young actress who stars in in Divergent and The Fault in our Stars, has quickly become a poster girl for wellness and natural health.

She has enthusiastically shared her love for bone broth, oil pulling, clay chugging (not the exact term, but you get it) and many other natural remedies on social media and in interviews.

She’d previously told Into The Gloss that “clay is great for you because your body doesn’t absorb it, and it apparently provides a negative charge, so it bonds to negative isotopes. And, this is crazy: it also helps clean heavy metals out of your body”.

Shailene also explained that she liked to “give my vagina a little vitamin D”, as it helps with yeast infections and “other genital issues”. She advises, “If you’re feeling depleted, go in the sun for an hour and see how much energy you get…spread your legs and get some sunshine.”

But her most recent unusual health obsession? It’s taken things to a new level.

She divulged to Nylon magazine that she enjoys eating something that is natural, free, and extremely creepy-crawly. Yes, that’s correct: Shailene Woodley likes to eat BUGS.

Related: This is the easiest way to save money on your veggie shop.  

In a behind-the-scenes video for her Nylon cover shoot, Shailene said, “I’ve eaten ants and that was great. And June bugs, that was great. I think the future of food is in insects, so we’ll see what happens.”

It’s hard to tell if Shailene is joking or not, but given her history of devouring all things earthy, eating bugs isn’t that much of a stretch.

It’s true that there are several health and environmental benefits to eating bugs, as discussed in this 2013 paper by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. And yet, when a Hollywood babe like Shailene says that eating bugs is “great”, there is the concern that, in an attempt to imitate her, people could grab the first bug they see in their backyard and eat it in unhygienic, uncontrolled circumstances.

Susan Lawler, Head of Department, Department of Environmental Management & Ecology at La Trobe University, told The Conversation that the danger of  “eating fresh insects collected in the wild” is that it “puts you at risk of consuming pesticides”. When a reporter asked her to eat a bug on camera, Lawler refused, because “we did not have any insects from a trusted source”.

Related: Your personality could be making you gain weight.

If you’ve ever seen Shailene on-screen, you will know that she has serious star power. She’s instantly engaging and relatable, yet also completely gorgeous. And that’s what frightens me about her willingness to share her “health” ideas – she’s a persuasive, beautiful and seemingly healthy young woman, who is touting dangerous ideas.

Image: Instagram. Shailene Woodley poses in a dressing room.

Shailene’s most famous roles to date have been playing young women who have prevailed over the impossible. In The Fault in Our Stars, her character, Hazel, grapples with cancer, tragic love and her mortality. In the post-apocalyptic film series, Divergent, Shailene’s character, Tris, is physically and emotionally powerful.

Having inhabited and portrayed these characters to perfection, Shailene Woodley has now become a role model to young women, whether she likes it or not.

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Related: Another day, another ‘natural cancer treatment’ is proven to be a tragic lie. 

I’m happy for Shailene that she has personally experienced the benefits of her health habits. In Nylon, she's described as being "fascinated by the powers of galangal (Thai ginger), cramp bark (for PMS), [and] meditation". 

However, I do think that it’s dangerous when famous young women, without formal qualifications in health, medicine or nutrition, promote these wellness practices. As we have written in previous stories, many of these practices are not proven to be beneficial to one’s health.

Is bone broth good for you
Image: via Letterman. Shailene Woodley shares her bone broth recipe.

As someone who suffers from a chronic renal disease, I know how tempting it is to believe that my kidney disease could go away if I just changed my lifestyle. I would definitely prefer drinking bone broths over all other the gross, painful and boring things I have to do, like constant blood tests, 24 hour urine tests, kidney biopsies and taking medication several times a day.

I’ve even asked my renal specialist if my kidney disease would disappear if I did this or that (became vegetarian, exercised more, ate zero salt, etc). My renal specialist is one of the best in Australia, and when he says no, just take your medication and listen to everything that I say, well, I shut up and listen. To ignore his expert advice and stop taking my medication would have serious consequences, of which no oil-pulling or clay-eating could ever fix.

Related: Questions to ask yourself before considering alternative cancer therapy. 

I know that Shailene isn’t talking about healing specific diseases. However, as she is in a position of influence and power, her words can have a persuasive effect over the most vulnerable. I just hope that the young women who admire and emulate her will consult a medical professional before adopting her lifestyle habits.

Bone broth isn't the only health trend you'll hear about this year. Here's more superfoods the celebrities will be banging on about...

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