London - Anna Friel has been accused of setting a bad example for celebrity-obsessed teenagers by embarking on an “extreme” quest to preserve her youthful good looks.
The actress admitted that she has adopted a regime that involves replacing solid food with 12 cups a day of a cocktail of maple syrup, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and water.
The “master cleanse” has previously been used by celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyoncé and Naomi Campbell to lose weight.
But Friel, 36, said that she was using the concoction as part of a detox and anti-ageing regime.
In an interview with Grazia magazine, she said: “I’ve been drinking it for two months and I feel so much better and my skin has really benefited.
“If you’re vain, as you get older you start thinking, ‘I’ve got to do everything I can to save my skin’. I’ve tried everything.”
The magazine does not elaborate on whether Friel has been on the regime – which provides less than 600 calories a day – for two months continuously, but it is unlikely.
Most who try it will endure it for four to 14 days, then slowly reintroduce food in their diet, starting with soup and orange juice before moving on to fruit and vegetables and finally what they would normally eat.
In Friel’s case, it is believed she will have replaced solid food on and off over the two months with the maple syrup drinks.
Sioned Quirke, of the British Dietetic Association, described the regime as “extreme and unnecessary”.
The dietician added: “From a nutritional point of view, you are lacking in all the essential nutrients which your body requires on a daily basis to function.
“How could you possibly feel better if you are depriving yourself of everything that your body needs to survive?
“If you are lacking in these nutrients for a matter of days, let alone weeks, your body will suffer.
“It’s a myth that what you eat affects your skin.
“We have a liver and it’s very good at its job. So any detoxing that needs to be done is done by the liver.”
Quirke, 31, said she found it hard to believe that Friel had been on the master cleanse for two months.
“I can’t imagine anyone surviving on it for longer than a week, let alone two months, so you’ve got to take what she says with a pinch of salt,” she said.
She added Friel was not sending out a “healthy message” to teenagers, who were “vulnerable” to comments by celebrities about their diets.
In her interview with the magazine, Friel, who is a size eight, talks about her insecurities over her appearance, and her efforts to hold on to her beauty include a regular “vampire facelift”.
The £600 (about R8000) procedure involves taking blood from her arm and injecting it into areas affected by wrinkles. It is said to boost the development of new blood cells and collagen.
Before red-carpet events, she also has Cryoderm facial treatments in which a machine is used first to heat the skin, stimulating the production of collagen and targeting fine lines, before the temperature is brought down to freezing.
Friel said: “People say I look really good afterwards. I also do the old-fashioned method at home, where I fill my sink with ice cubes and hold them on my face for a minute.”
She revealed that she had “felt sick recently because I found one or two grey hairs”.
She added: “I read that curry leaves help to maintain your hair colour, so I mix them with hot water and drink it as a tea.”
In her latest role in director Michael Winterbottom’s film The Look Of Love, Friel has to age 36 years in later scenes.
She plays Jean Raymond, the wife of multi-millionaire porn baron and ‘king of Soho’ Paul Raymond, played by Steve Coogan.
Friel has been dating actor Rhys Ifans, 45, for two years and has a daughter Gracie, seven, from a previous relationship with David Thewlis, also an actor.
It appears she rewards her dietary hardships with retail therapy, telling Grazia: “Rhys and I went to Bath recently and I was on this maple syrup cleanse so I could only drink herbal tea, but there was a vintage shop, so it made me feel better about being deprived.”
HOW THE CLEANSE WORKS
The master cleanse, introduced more than 30 years ago by naturopath Stanley Burroughs, swiftly delivers dramatic effects.
In the first six hours of being on it, the body starts using stored glucose from the liver.
After another six hours, mood swings surface as hunger sets in.
From six to 72 hours, the body enters a state of ketosis, breaking down fatty acids for energy instead of glucose.
But your brain cannot use fatty acids directly as its fuel source; it uses remaining glucose stores at lower levels. At this stage, you may experience headaches, fatigue, dizziness and diarrhoea or constipation.
From 72 hours onwards, the body breaks down protein, using muscle mass to obtain it, and amino acids are converted into glucose by the liver to supply your brain.
In this phase, called autophagy, your muscle mass starts to waste away – you are in effect cannibalising yourself. - Daily Mail