Robert Young — the creator of the alkaline diet and co-author of the book, The pH Miracle — has been convicted of practicing medicine without a license.
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A favourite among celebrities like Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston, the alkaline diet claims that diseases are caused by acidity in the blood, and that balancing our pH levels is therefore the key to optimal health. This, of course, inspired a series of high-alkaline diets and cleanses, based on the idea of cutting out acidic foods and eating more alkaline ones.
The scientific community may have scoffed at the unusual, quirky diet, but Hollywood starlets jumped on board. In 2013, Victoria Beckham posted a photo on Twitter showing off her alkaline diet cookbook. Other celebrities, like Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kirsten Dunst, Kelly Ripa, and Kate Hudson followed suit. There’s even supposed “bottled alkaline water” (scientific claims unproven) that’s being promoted by supermodel Miranda Kerr.
Robert Young has been convicted of practicing medicine without a license, the BBC reports. He could spend up to three years and eight months in jail. Additionally, he’s accused of defrauded terminally ill cancer patients by giving them “baking-soda infusions” in lieu of traditional medical treatments. Yikes.
As if all that weren’t bad enough, Young has touted himself as a doctor and a naturopath over the years, but his doctorate in nutrition is from a non-accredited, now-defunct correspondence school, and he does not have a medical degree.
One of Young’s cancer patients, a 27-year-old British woman, flew to California in 2012 and paid Young more than $77,000 in the hopes that his alternative methods could save her life. She died after spending three months at Young’s ranch.
When asked if he felt remorse, Young replied he did not, “because of the thousands if not millions of people that have been helped through the [alkaline diet] programme.”
Unfortunately, there is very little scientific evidence to support the theory behind his now-famous diet. While it’s true that different foods have different pH levels, eating them (or cutting out certain kinds) has no real effect on body chemistry whatsoever.
“We have an incredibly sophisticated machinery to keep the pH levels where they should be throughout the body, and there’s not a lot that you can do, eat, or drink to change that,” Evan Dellon, MD, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, told Health.
Many of the foods recommended on the diet are fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds — proven health foods that are full of fibre and nutrition. The diet also calls for avoiding “high-acid” foods like meat, dairy, refined sugar, or anything processed, a.k.a, junk food.
So while the alkaline diet’s theory about pH levels and health holds no water, cutting out sugar and processed foods while upping your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is sure to have health benefits.