If you’ve heard of the alkaline diet, chances are you’ve heard of Robert Young. The “doctor” whose publication of “The pH Miracle” in 2010 made him the authority on the low-acid eating plan, landing him celebrity endorsements from the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow and appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” However, Young is now grabbing headlines for another reason: He’s looking at serious jail time.
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The BBC reported last week that Young is facing prison time for a 2016 conviction of practicing medicine without a license — a charge that carries a sentence of up to three years and eight months. So much for that whole doctor thing.
Young was also charged with defrauding terminally ill cancer patients out of money by treating them with baking-soda concoctions with the promise it would cure them of cancer. One of these patients was Naima Houder-Mohammed, a 27-year-old woman who flew from England to California for treatment. She had paid him more than $77,000, but she passed away three months into treatment. He had been treating her with little more than baking soda at the time of her death.
While the results of his treatment are terrifying, his charges resulted in a deadlocked jury. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune he will be retried for theft by fraud and five other charges.
It should be noted that while Young does in fact hold a doctorate in nutrition, it is from a non-accredited correspondence school that no longer exists — meaning he most definitely does not have a medical degree.
When reporters asked him if he felt remorse for his actions, he explained that he did not “because of the thousands if not millions of people that have been helped through the [alkaline diet] program.”
The alkaline diet is built around the concept of pH imbalances — that when the body is acidic, it relies on vital organs for minerals like sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium — which in turn leads to health deterioration. The theory is that an individual can correct this imbalance by consuming foods that have alkalizing reactions in the body, such as fruits, leafy greens and root vegetables. The diet also encourages limiting acidic foods, including sugar, caffeine, animal protein and processed foods.
People who follow an alkaline diet often add baking soda to their regimen to promote alkalinity as well — which was likely Young’s methodology behind treating cancer patients with this household item.
While the diet never garnered much solid scientific backing — other than the fact that foods do vary in pH levels and many of the alkaline diet’s recommended foods are extremely healthy — celebrities were quick to endorse the eating plan. Several articles and books were written on the subject, and high-alkaline diets and cleanses have continued to be created. The latest alkaline fad: bottled alkaline water.
This case should serve as an industry-wide reminder not only to be skeptical of highly publicized health fads until they have some sort of scientific backing, but to also be selective when it comes to who we consider health “experts.”
What Do YOU Think?
Have you tried the alkaline diet? Do you believe Robert Young deserves prison time for his crimes? Do celebrities have too much influence when it comes to health and diet? Share your thoughts in the comments section.