The man who created the alkaline diet, a bogus eating regimen based on the idea that certain foods cause your body’s pH levels to become acidic, faces up to three years in prison, the BBC reported.
Robert Young, who wrote the book “The pH Miracle,” claimed that diseases were caused by acidity in the blood. That claim had influenced one of the most popular food writers in the UK, Natasha Corrett.
Young was convicted last year on two charges of practicing medicine without a licence after he was found to have bought his doctorate online, according to the BBC.
The alkaline diet gained some traction after Kate Hudson lauded it at this year’s Golden Globes as the way she stays in shape, but the idea has been around for a while. The idea behind the alkaline diet is that certain foods like meat, wheat, and sugar cause your body to produce acid, which leads to health problems such as bone loss, muscle loss, and back pain.
But what you eat has very little effect on the acid concentrations in your blood. As my colleague Jessica Orwig reported, blood pH levels hover around 7.4 — neither extremely acidic (pH level of 0) or basic (pH level of 14).
While what you eat can affect the acidity of your urine, your kidneys work hard to keep your blood pH levels steady. One small study, for example, found that a diet high in protein and low in carbs had a strong effect on urinary acidity but appeared to cause very little change in blood pH.
The BBC reported that Young advised a woman who was dying from breast cancer, British army officer Naima Houder-Mohammed, who paid Young thousands of dollars for his alkaline treatment, which predominantly consisted of baking soda administered intravenously. According to the BBC, Houder-Mohammed and her family ended up paying Young more than $77,000 (£62,700) for the treatment and his advice.
Houder-Mohammed stayed at Young’s facility, the “pH Miracle Ranch,” for three months, according to the BBC, until her condition worsened and she was taken to the hospital. She died at age 27.
In 2011, the Medical Board of California began an investigation at Young’s ranch, where it discovered that none of the 15 cancer patients Young treated there outlived their prognosis. One woman died from congestive heart failure after being given 33 intravenous sodium bicarbonate drips over 31 days at a cost of $550 each, according to the BBC.
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