Society of Bioethics and Medicine
The Social Media Smoothie
Written by Raheem Sheikh
Edited by Samantha Cavusoglu
Hailey Bieber’s Strawberry Glaze, Bella Hadid’s Kinsicle, and Kourtney Kardashian’s Poosh Potion Detox: Available exclusively in California’s Erewhon Markets, these celebrity smoothies feature “typical” ingredients like organic fresh fruit, plant-based milk, and alternative sweeteners. They are blended with the “usual” collagen peptides, hyaluronic acid, or sea moss gel. However, how healthy are they and are they worth the twenty-dollar price tag?
The Smoothie Diet and The Juice Cleanse
It is no surprise that these infamous Erewhon Smoothies are nutrient-dense. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the Smoothie Diet is that the beverage is an efficient way to consume a variety of nutritious foods in one meal, including fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. This can be especially convenient for individuals who struggle to eat their daily dietary reference intake (DRI). Many fruits and vegetables used in smoothies have high water content, which can help drinkers stay hydrated throughout the day. Simultaneously, smoothies can promote weight loss, because consuming low-calorie, but filling, drinks can help individuals reduce their caloric intake. Similarly, the Juice Cleanse is a detox diet—popularized in the early 2000s—flushing the body of toxins and waste, “by clearing the diet of sugar, caffeine, refined foods, and other substances that can deplete energy,” and replacing them with fruit and vegetable-derived nutrients from juice consumption.
The smoothies at Erewhon are crafted with organic fruits and vegetables. The difference between organic and non-organic food is that the former does not allow for the use of synthetic materials and genetically modified crops, which brings comfort to some shoppers. While it is widely known that organic produce is sold at higher prices, it is more evident that the largest contributor to the price point of the Erewhon smoothie is its specialty supplements, often available only in the exclusive, curated market. As one example, the Strawberry Glaze’s Neocell Liquid Blueberry Hyaluronic Acid costs approximately $30.00; the manufacturer shares that their Hyaluronic Acid “provide hydration and free radical cellular support.” Its liquid form not only supports cellular health in your body but also provides hydration to healthy skin and joints. The Potion Detox features blk Water’s $30.00 Fulvic Acid drops containing electrolytes, trace minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. Nutrition Editor of EatingWell Magazine, Jessica Ball, shares that most supplements are unregulated. In the United States, “it can be hard to know if you are actually getting what is advertised on the bottle.” Supplements can provide a number of health benefits when taken as part of a balanced and healthy diet such as improving nutrient deficiencies or immune function (Vitamins C/D) and reducing inflammation (Omega-3 Fatty Acids). Therefore, determining if they are safe can be made possible by looking at its label or certifications from third-party testers that aim to reassure consumers that a product is real.
Some critics argue the Smoothie Diet is not sustainable. For example, it may heighten binge eating, once individuals return to their normal diets, to compensate for the caloric deficit or low energy levels. Many smoothie recipes contain high amounts of sugar from added sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup, or high-sugar fruits like bananas or mangoes. Another notable con is that some fiber and other nutrients may be lost during the blending process. Substituting fiber that can be obtained from whole foods can lead to digestive issues and may contribute to a lack of satiety, making it harder to maintain a smoothie-only diet.
Dr. Mark Hyman presents a new, unexpected application of the Smoothie Diet. Dr. Hyman, 63, is a longevity specialist who claims his “Healthy Aging Shake” has made him biologically twenty years younger. At first glance, readers may believe that his smoothie is the single factor that affects his “biological age.” However, every morning, Dr. Hyman engages in thirty minutes of strength training to maintain his muscle mass, an important physical component of aging. His smoothie complements his routine with its plant nutrients, healthy fats, and 48 grams of protein from whey—macromolecules derived from the cheesemaking process. An ingredient that drinkers may not be familiar with is MCT Oil, made from 100% medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat. MCT Oil, most commonly derived from coconuts, is a supplement that has become popular among athletes and bodybuilders. Most claims of its benefits point to weight loss, as the oil may promote the release of hormones that signal your stomach is at capacity, which can reduce appetite, and perhaps improve cognitive functions. Dr. Hyman’s field of Longevity Medicine is a precise, preventative specialty. Most practitioners focus on developing good practices and plans to prevent common, sometimes silent killers like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. However, a new shift to stop viewing aging as an inevitable fate, and as a preventable outcome instead, has opened new avenues for research, especially within nutritional science and biomarker genetics.
Erewhon's Executive Vice President, Vito Antoci, says that “you could create a smoothie for a lot less, but that's the big thing. People have been talking about price… it costs a lot of money to make a very good, high-integrity smoothie that's not just pure sugar.” That is just “the business of a social media smoothie.” However, such mindsets decrease accessibility to healthy food and beverages for those in food deserts—low-income communities with inadequate transportation to retailers providing fresh produce and healthy groceries at an affordable price. While any budding influencer hoping to make content for TikTok or Instagram can easily attest that the Strawberry Glaze or Kinsicle is delicious, surprisingly the average consumer agrees too. Lucas Peterson, Food Columnist with the Los Angeles Times, describes Hailey Bieber’s smoothie and says it is, “pretty good. It's actually very good,” unable to offer further comment on its potential skin benefits. As a result of the high price tag, it is no surprise that food bloggers have crafted the perfect “Erewhon Smoothie Dupes” for those wanting to taste these delicious, nourishing beverages at home for a fraction of the price. More importantly, consumers can feel the substantial benefits of consuming liquid, nutrient-dense fruits, and vegetables.
- Holland, B. (2021, November 28). These are the core concepts of Longevity Medicine. Well Good. Retrieved from https://www.wellandgood.com/longevity-medicine/
- Hosie, R., & Landsverk, G. (2023, February 21). A 63-year-old doctor who says he's biologically 43 starts his morning with a smoothie. Here's the recipe. Insider. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/longevity-doctor-protein-smoothie-recipe-healthy-aging-morning-routine-2023-2
- Johnson, K. (2022, December 13). How the branded Erewhon Smoothie became the unexpected gold standard in Beauty Marketing. Fashionista. Retrieved from https://fashionista.com/2022/12/erewhon-smoothie-collabs-marketing
- Lucas, K. P. (2022, Jul 10). The Best — And The Rest — of Erewhon's Smoothies. Los Angeles Times Retrieved from http://proxy.wexler.hunter.cuny.edu/login?url=
- MacPherson, R. (2022, November 4). What is a Juice Cleanse? Verywell Fit. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit.com/juice-cleanse-89120