Dr Giles Yeo investigates the latest diet craze and social media sensation - clean eating. Giles cooks with Ella Mills and sifts through the claims of the Hemsley sisters.
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Imagine if the food you choose could clean your body
and make you feel well.
Imagine if you could become not just healthy, but healthier,
by eating fresh, natural ingredients.
This is the promise of the growing clean eating movement.
We all know it's good to eat healthily.
But clean is a totally new approach to food, driven by social media.
-I'm looking for some bones.
Beef bones, sir? No problem.
Are they synthetic hormone free?
There we go.
I'm Dr Giles Yo.
As a scientist, I discovered that genetic changes
can increase appetite and obesity.
I'm going to investigate the messages
that the new gurus of clean are selling us.
We're starting with Hemsley and Hemsley.
Fish curry tonight, it sounds great.
Millions of us are embracing this new generation of cooks.
This is from Honestly Healthy.
Clean, and diets like gluten free are the latest fads,
and they're big business.
What do you need after a run? Almond butter quinoa.
From Deliciously Ella.
Once, diets like Atkins were all about losing weight.
Now, clean's pitch is that food can improve your health.
But does it actually work?
I'll reveal the ideas and the people who are influencing
the gurus of clean.
Hello, guys. So, I'm off on a week-long trip stateside.
I find all is not always what it appears to be.
I'll challenge one of the key figures
fuelling the gluten-free fad.
Are you saying that the consumption of grains are harming all of us
-to some degree?
-Yes, without exception.
I'll track down the pioneer of alkaline eating
who has made millions by
claiming vegetables can keep us well, and even reverse cancer.
All sickness and disease can be prevented
by managing the delicate pH balance of the fluids of the body.
My investigation sets clean against science, promise against proof.
Ultimately, what I really want to know is,
when it comes to clean food...
can we really eat ourselves well?
To find out how the clean movement has become so popular,
I'm going to cook for someone who has become
one of its most influential figures.
Ella Mills is Deliciously Ella.
She has nearly a million followers on Instagram
and her debut cookbook was the fastest-selling ever in the UK.
-Oh, hi! Ella.
-Nice to meet you.
I've been nervous. I've been nervous because I'm going to cook for you.
OK. No, it's going to be amazing.
And I normally cook for carnivores, it's a terrible thing to say.
-OK. Don't worry.
-Obviously, I'm cooking for you,
and so I'm going down the route of your philosophy, using plants.
'I'm going to cook Ella's spiced sweet potato stew.'
-It's nice and easy.
-You have to forgive me first.
No, I can't wait to see it.
Before you actually...
'Like all her food, it is vegan.'
Have you always been this veggie person?
-Have your always been a plant lover?
-No, God... Oh, my God, no.
I was actually the worst...
I was the least vegetarian person you'd have ever met in your life
ten years ago. Hated vegetables.
-No sweet potatoes?
-Not even a sweet potato.
Ella decided to change her diet when she developed a rare condition
called postural tachycardia syndrome.
I had the kind of classic issue of POT,
which is you can't control your heart rate properly
and then your blood pressure drops,
and my digestive system wasn't working,
and then I had problems with my immune system,
and infections and chronic fatigue.
So I spent about six months or so in bed just taking all these drugs
and they just didn't have enough of an effect.
'As the medical options ran out, Ella did what many of us would.'
Obviously, went to Google, because that's what you do these days.
Which obviously can be a dangerous game,
but I started researching alternative things I could look at,
and I came across lots of stories of people who had used a change in diet
and lifestyle to help manage all kinds of conditions,
which, to be honest, I was incredibly sceptical of.
It seemed quite bizarre to me that you could...
that that could be an effective thing.
But at this point, kind of, you know,
anything is worth a try, really.
'Overnight, Ella gave up meat, dairy, refined sugar,
'gluten and processed foods.
'Her story of how she changed her diet to change her health has proved
It was quite cathartic for me the first time I shared it,
but it was also amazing, the number of people who would get in touch and
say, you know, that they could relate to it
for some reason or another.
I think that was also another reason to keep talking about it,
cos it made sense of what I was doing.
Ella has become one of THE faces of clean eating.
The movement grows by sharing images of perfect-looking food
on social media sites like Instagram.
Type hashtag cleaneating into Instagram...
and you get more than 26 million posts.
I often post images of food on social media,
-Do I post images of food?
Yes, I try to do that at least once a day.
The NHS recommends a balanced diet to stay healthy and cut the risk of
heart disease and other conditions.
But more and more of us are inspired by the clean gurus' message -
eating their way will make us well.
My favourite recipe is probably something called zoat,
and you're going think I'm crazy,
but it's courgettes grated into oats.
Quinoa porridge, and I'll put it with coconut milk, add flaxseed
for fibre, turmeric for, you know, anti-cancerous properties.
I really need to be a part of this,
so I'm going to set up my own Instagram account
so that I can document
my investigation of the clean phenomenon.
All right, here we go.
To investigate clean's promise that we can eat ourselves well,
I need my own forensic space.
Individual clean recipes are no doubt healthy,
but I'm focusing on the overall approaches to food these new gurus
are promoting, and how they prove they work.
Alongside Ella we have the Hemsley sisters, Jasmine and Melissa,
and Natasha Corrett of Honestly Healthy.
All of them have claimed that by changing their diet
they have improved their health - and what does this actually mean?
Science, after all,
is about telling the difference between anecdote and evidence,
and something that works for one person doesn't necessarily work
for very many people.
But clean isn't built on science.
It is bringing into our kitchens
approaches to food that are influenced by ideas
that range from the unproven to the peculiar, to the sometimes,
when taken to the extremes, harmful.
The Hemsley sisters have published two books and had a TV series.
They promote the health benefits of traditional foods,
and make some colourful claims.
I'm about to make bone broth.
The Hemsleys call this the ultimate superfood,
one of the oldest home-made foods, apparently.
They say it is an elixir that can cure ailments and nurture the sick.
You might call it stock.
But the Hemsley sisters' approach isn't all about ancient foods.
In fact, they're also helping fuel the biggest food fad of all.
Across the Western world,
more and more people are cutting out one foodstuff we've eaten every day
for millennia -
What kind of bread are we going to be making?
We're making gluten-free olive oil focaccia.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Gluten is just what it says it is.
It's glue, it glues things together.
It's a binding agent.
'Gluten-free bakeries like this were once rare.'
Most of our customers are coeliacs
and what happens is, when coeliacs ingest gluten
they tend to get an autoimmune effect.
The immune system of people with coeliac disease mistakes gluten for
a threat and attacks it, damaging the intestine.
The condition affects around 1% of the global population.
The number of us going gluten free is far higher.
-So, how does it feel?
That is fantastic.
This is gluten... This is gluten free, guys.
The clean gurus are united in promoting gluten-free food.
But the Hemsley sisters take this restriction one step further.
Now, the Hemsleys are not just gluten free,
they are also grain free, and they seem to have arrived
at this position via this chap over here, William, or Bill, Davis,
who wrote a book called Wheat Belly.
They say he describes how eliminating grains from your diet
can have an incredibly positive effect
on your overall health and wellbeing.
So who is Dr Davis?
And how objective is he in presenting the evidence?
Time to find out.
Wheat country, Ohio.
Before the harvest, it looked like this.
Today, it is a fitting place to meet an anti-wheat evangelist.
Science is complex, it's full of grey areas.
There are always caveats to how things work.
It is very, very seldom black or white.
What I want to know is,
is whether or not Bill Davis is reflecting the true complexity
of the science of gluten,
or is he exploiting that grey area and fuelling unfounded fears?
Intriguingly, Bill Davis was a cardiologist
for more than two decades.
Bill? Hi, I'm Giles.
-Glad to meet you.
-Pleased to meet you.
'Then he began his war on grains.'
I didn't set out to do this. In fact, years ago,
I used to advocate what the American Heart Association
and all other agencies advocate,
which is cut saturated fats and eat plenty of healthy wholegrains.
My focus was, of course, heart disease.
I saw too many people succumbing to the "need" for bypass surgery,
stents, dying, sudden cardiac death, etc, heart attacks.
I wanted better tools to help them put a stop to this.
'Bill focused on how to cut his patients' high levels
'of LDL-cholesterol, which has been linked to heart disease.'
So I asked my many patients to remove grains and sugars.
Let's see what happens.
Spectacular things happened.
Their LDL, 100% reduction in most instances.
Or at least dramatic reduction.
Blood sugars dropped. Many diabetics became non-diabetics.
Then people came back and said, "I don't get it.
"Why did I lose 43lb? I didn't try."
In other words, I saw this incredible transformation in health.
-Are you ready to order or do you need a few minutes?
-I'll just have...
-How about a hamburger without no bun?
-Hamburger with no bun?
A hamburger without a bun?
I'll... Hamburger without a bun?
'Bill follows a grain-free, low-carb diet
'which he says has improved his health.'
-I'm going to have French toast and bacon.
Why do people not put two and two together
like you put two and two together?
I will give you the very cynical view.
-Give me the cynical view.
-It doesn't make money.
-Thank you, ma'am.
You want ketchup and vinegar for your French fries?
That's fine, thank you.
-No, we're fine for now.
What is the difference between me eating a slice of French toast
made of flour - the worst type, white flour - versus you having
a fry, a piece of potato?
Let me make clear. First, I'm not going to eat the fries,
because I'm also limiting my carbohydrate exposure,
-but let's put that aside.
Let's accept there are starches, carbohydrates on both plates.
-What is the difference?
Well, there is a blood sugar rise, but that is shared by both.
It's the proteins, Giles.
'I'm wondering where Bill is going with this worry about the proteins
In the broad perspective of human time on Earth, humans have
consumed grains, the seeds of grasses,
for less than one half of 1% of our time on Earth.
What happened to humans when we first turned to seeds of grasses?
There was an explosion in tooth decay.
Iron deficiency, more arthritis and other bone diseases.
In other words, grains were not really fit for human consumption.
Are you saying that the consumption of grains are harming all of us
-to some degree?
-Yes, without exception.
But we often don't recognise the diseases of grains
as diseases of grains.
But when you see the full list of diseases that have been associated
with grains, you start to realise we're talking about
a huge portion of the landscape of human illness.
Is it not quite extreme to say this?
I mean, I don't think, as far as I understand,
this is the prevailing view in the scientific community.
So you're right. This is a kind of extreme view.
You know, I didn't appreciate the wonderful effects
that develop until I did this.
'Bill's claim that eating grains is harming all of us
'is not supported by any scientific study.'
Hello, guys. I'm here with Bill Davis, author of Wheat Belly.
At a wheat farm.
'To build his case against grains,
'Bill pieces together evidence from different dietary studies.'
I think there was wheat here at some point, earlier in the year.
I'm looking for the wheat, where is the wheat?
'One crucial focus for Bill is the rise in coeliac disease and other
'autoimmune conditions in the Western world,
'something he blames largely on wheat.'
People talk about gluten,
but the real culprit in a lot of problems is the gliadin protein.
'Gliadin is an element in gluten.'
But what is the problem with gliadin, specifically?
The biggest problems, Giles, are, one,
it triggers the first step in generating autoimmune diseases,
so we know that with confidence. The gliadin protein initiates...
I challenge you that we know this with confidence
because I don't know this.
My wife is an autoimmune biologist, and I don't know this.
I don't know that with confidence, that this is the situation.
So, your wife would likely be
familiar with the data from Dr Fasano's lab,
that showed, in exhaustive, very thorough studies,
that the gliadin protein initiates
the steps that create intestinal per....
Intestinal permeability is a very dangerous process
because it allows foreign substances
access into your body, and that sets the stage.
Bill is referring to the work of Dr Alessio Fasano,
one of the world's leading researchers of coeliac disease.
For more than 20 years,
he has been investigating how gluten enters the body
and affects our health.
There is no such thing in science as
a straightforward question because
you have a question, you have an answer,
that opens another ten questions.
The big question for Dr Fasano is, who is harmed by consuming gluten?
It seems to be such a no-brainer question, but it's not.
You know, it involves evolutionary biology,
structural biology, genetics.
So, the question by itself is trivial.
The answer is much more complex than you can imagine.
Dr Fasano has shown the gut wall is one crucial element governing
our response to gluten.
It separates the external world from our immune system.
But in coeliac disease and many other autoimmune conditions,
this barrier is faulty.
These two worlds, they are compartmentalised.
They need to have the chance to interact physically with each other
so this barrier function needs to be gone.
It turns out Bill is right. In people prone to it,
gluten can breach the gut wall by opening a door between cells.
All right, that was easy.
What we learn is that some of these undigested pieces of gluten can
communicate with the cells and say, please, make the intestine leakier.
And in doing that, these bridges,
they come down and then stuff, including gluten, comes in.
So it's like gluten creates a shortcut for itself to come in.
Bill takes Dr Fasano's evidence and goes one unproven step further.
Grain still here. This is it.
That's the real thing.
This is what we've been talking about.
No question about it.
What is in here that is bad for you?
-The entire thing.
-The entire thing!
Bill believes the way gluten can make the gut leaky
is crucial evidence grains can be bad for all of us.
We already have a smoking gun,
connecting grains to auto... at least some autoimmune diseases.
So what Dr Fasano and his team
have demonstrated is that the gliadin protein of wheat
and related proteins of other grains,
this class of prolamin proteins,
can initiate the process that allows foreign substances
entry into your body. So some of those proteins,
when they gain entry into your body, will fool your body's immune system.
It's a foreign protein,
it initiates an immune attack, but it resembles some of the proteins of
your own body, and the body can attack its own organs.
Dr Fasano, who Bill credits with discovering this evidence,
does not agree.
You know, I respect and like some of the aspects of Dr Davis,
it is not that I am an enemy, or whatever,
so of course I will be ecstatic if he is right, but, honestly,
I don't think that it is the case.
These mice show that gluten on its own is not enough
to cause people problems.
The animals on the right
have been genetically modified to produce zonulin,
the chemical released by gluten that controls the leakiness of the gut.
These are normal mice.
They naturally do not make this hormone, and they live happy.
You see them, they are running around,
and they eat chow that has gluten in it,
no problem whatsoever.
These, on the other hand, have been genetically engineered
to make not one but two copies of the zonulin gene,
and they eat gluten, but they look as happy as these other guys.
So, meaning that eating gluten and releasing zonulin by themselves
would not be sufficient to create the problem.
Animal studies can't always be counted on,
but this unpublished work supports Dr Fasano's other research.
He has found gluten is only harmful
if you already have four other problems -
a genetic predisposition,
a leaky gut, a faulty immune system,
and imbalanced gut microbes.
Now, if I put these animals under stress,
i.e., in a condition to create chronic inflammation,
these guys will survive, these will not,
meaning that while, you know,
gluten ingestion and leaky gut are necessary
to create the problem, they are not sufficient.
Meaning not everybody that eats gluten will be in trouble.
Science is closing the gaps in our knowledge about
who is harmed by gluten and who isn't.
Something Bill had told me earlier that day was troubling.
The bar to prove, let's say, a new surgery is effective
should be very high, right? You need very clear-cut data.
If I were to say, let's eliminate watermelon from your diet.
-How confident do you have to be to do that?
Well, you can just try it. Right? Nothing lost, nothing gained.
But there is a danger.
When it comes to drugs,
an unproven diet might appeal more than a proven treatment.
What struck me about today was that Bill actually has no proof
that giving up grains will have all of these health effects,
on this wide range of different diseases.
And I just feel, if you're going to give such extreme dietary advice,
you've got to have proof,
otherwise all you are doing is you are stoking fear about a food group
that most people shouldn't have to worry about.
We asked the Hemsley sisters, who cut out all grains,
to take part in this film, and they refused.
In a statement, they told us,
"Grains are already abundant in the modern diet so our recipes celebrate
They told us they don't believe in absolutes, and no one way
of eating suits everyone.
The next strain of clean I'm going to examine is alkaline eating.
It means choosing foods that are said to balance out acidity
in your body with alkalinity.
That means vegetables, which sounds great.
But does the alkaline way stand up?
According to Honestly Healthy, meat, dairy, processed foods,
form acid in the body and these place a burden on your liver
and your kidneys.
Alkaline foods, however, such as broccoli, kale, avocado -
these are far easier for your system to digest,
and creating an alkaline state in your body is said to
help to cure ailments.
Honestly Healthy is the work of Natasha Corrett.
Now, Natasha is one of the key promoters of alkaline eating today.
And she has taken inspiration from this chap over here, Robert Young.
And in the introduction to her book, Honestly Healthy Cleanse,
Natasha says that, "He discovered that eating a plant-based diet,
"free from processed foods,
"can help to cure terminal diseases in the body.
"Unfortunately, his work is not recognised by the medical industry,
"perhaps because giant pharmaceutical organisations
"wouldn't be able to
"make any money out of doctors prescribing vegetables."
Time to meet the godfather of alkaline eating.
Just outside San Diego, California - Paradise Mountain Road.
Is it taking me to scientific truth or the vanishing point
where pseudoscience takes over?
So how does science arrive at the truth?
I mean, fundamentally, as scientists,
we're curious how things work,
so we test our ideas with experimentation.
If experiments work, we progress our ideas.
If they don't, we have to modify them.
I'm curious how far what I'm going to see today
either conforms to this or even perverts it.
Up ahead is Dr Robert Young's pH Miracle Ranch.
It's quite nice. Palatial.
It's a millionaire's paradise funded by alkaline eating.
He has a moat. He has a moat here, guys.
I don't see any alligators coming to eat me, so let's see if he's here.
Hello, I'm Giles.
-Dr Giles! Very pleased to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
-Is this is where miracles happen?
This is your Miracle Ranch?
Well, we call it the Rancha Del Sol.
I really, really appreciate it.
'I want to know how Robert thinks we can use food to stay well.'
That's a metaphor for the fishbowl.
Are you familiar with the fishbowl metaphor?
Give me the fishbowl metaphor.
OK, the fishbowl metaphor begs a question, and the question is,
if the fish is sick, what would you do?
Treat the fish or change the water?
I'd change the water, you're right.
'By "change the water",
'he means eat alkaline food to stop ourselves becoming acidic.'
'The human body in its perfect state of health is alkaline
'in its design.'
'Robert invites me to share in his daily alkaline routine.'
Here we go.
My brain needs to prepare.
I'll join you. Cheers.
Tastes like green tea - it tastes like cold green tea.
Well, it's wheatgrass.
'Robert's developed his alkaline approach outside the academic world.
'He claims to have sold more than four million books
'in his pH Miracle series.'
I think I read somewhere...
you call yourself a world-renowned microbiologist.
I don't know that, you know,
we need to put "world-renowned" in front of it.
I mean, biology has been my passion.
I have studied it for years, and the area of haematology.
Blood has a slightly alkaline pH, and the medical consensus is,
nothing you eat can change it.
Robert's theory is certain foods
cause acid to build up in the body.
He believes if there's too much acid
it can't be balanced by the blood, so it ends up in our tissues.
If we go back to the good book, the Bible,
like Moses said, for the life of all flesh is the blood,
or Mohammed in the Koran said,
don't you understand that you are made out of one drop of blood?
So the transformation and the pleomorphism of blood
into other cells got me thinking.
'Before I can ask Robert what he means by pleomorphism,
'we're moving on.'
So we're right now pruning the avocado trees down.
-Avocado is what I refer to as God's butter.
It's possibly the perfect food.
Robert believes alkaline foods like avocados can prevent
the over-acidification of our blood and tissues,
with dramatic results.
All sickness and disease can be prevented by managing
the delicate pH balance of the fluids of their body.
Even modern medicine can't prevent all sickness and disease.
Robert's claim is rooted in how he thinks disease is caused.
You mentioned the word... Was it "pleomorphism"?
What was the word you used?
Pleomorphism is the study of matter and how it can change its form
or its function or its expression based upon its environment.
-And you know that.
You know morphism.
I know morphism, but I don't know pleomorphism.
OK. Pleomorphism would be many changes.
'In 1994, I took the blood of a type I diabetic using phase contrast...'
Robert has posted a video online he says shows a red blood cell
transforming into bacteria.
'This was the first time I had ever witnessed
'biological transformation, or pleomorphism.'
Robert has never published any evidence to substantiate this video.
And as a trained scientist, I have never come across any either.
It was by sheer accident that I saw these pleomorphic transformations
taking place, not in healthy people but in sick people.
Pleomorphism is a name Robert gives a scientific idea championed by
a French scientist, Antoine Bechamp,
in the second half of the 19th century,
that diseases emerge from changes within the body.
His scientific adversary was Louis Pasteur,
who was a proponent of germ theory -
that disease infects the body from the outside.
The theory is, whether you accept this or not,
because I know this is a huge jump, you know, for most people.
-From my education.
Is that the bacteria is a biological transformation
of what used to be something else.
So you don't believe in germs?
-Yes, I do.
But germs are nothing more than the biological transformation
of animal, human or plant matter.
They are born out of that.
So the Pasteurian theory is that germs are unique individuals,
-like cats and dogs.
The Bechamp theory is a new thought, a new consideration.
Bechamp's theory was discarded after Pasteur and others proved bacteria
and viruses cause disease by infecting the body from the outside.
These discoveries led to modern medicine's use of vaccines
and drugs to target infection.
So the idea in Pasteurian theory is if you kill the germ,
if you kill the virus, then you can cure the disease.
-In my world, the germ is nothing.
The germ is just a product of its environment,
and you don't try to kill the germ, you change the environment.
Thus, you come to a more contextual, environmental approach
which is pH sensitive.
But how do you then explain all of the evidence,
all of the evidence which supports Pasteur's theory
and does not support Bechamp's theory?
Well, I agree that germs do exist,
but we're talking about peeling the onion back further.
Where is their origin?
So what I've heard today at the ranch
is really quite some wild, I'm going to use the word...
..wild thoughts from Robert
which goes against all evidence-based medical dogma.
And this is a problem.
Whenever he speaks he's saying that, look, thoughts need to be,
they're unique thoughts, they still need to be tested.
So he's not looking at this from a scientific basis.
Because before you open your mouth and blab,
you should actually test the evidence.
It's anti-intellectual, it's anti-fact,
it's anti-evidence-based and it's a very troubling narrative.
'Time for an alkaline lunch.
'I was about to be surprised by the scale of Robert's influence.'
Do you know the two authors that make up Honestly Healthy?
Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson?
Yeah, two of my students who have been studying my work for years.
They actually called me when they were producing this book, you know,
because they wanted my impressions on it.
-So you saw a proof of it?
-Yeah, I saw a draft.
I saw a draft of the book.
So I am happy to help anyone, you know,
that is interested in helping others feel better,
look better and live a better life,
and it comes right down to food.
'The book's publisher told us they never consulted Robert directly
'or sent him proofs. The authors would not comment.
'We wanted to ask Natasha Corrett
'about her endorsement of Robert Young,
'and his influence on Honestly Healthy.
'But she chose not to speak to us.'
Good morning, guys.
Checking my Instagram account, my daily morning things.
I just want to...
OK, so we've gone from, when I first started this exercise,
from 20 followers, right,
to now 268 and this is over a period of less than ten days,
so I think we're building momentum here.
But what I think is funny are the people that are following me.
And I think names in this situation gives the whole picture.
So here, for example, is
Hope Vegan Mamma, I love that.
We have Mental Stew, I don't what that is.
Oh, here we go, Vicious Vegan Valkyrie.
'Back with Deliciously Ella.
'One of more than half a million people
'who have embraced a vegan diet,
'though Ella prefers to call it plant-based.'
For me, plant-based is about "based",
do you see what I mean?
And therefore you add on to it, adapt it.
It's about sharing recipes that start with a base of plants
rather than saying, you can never do this ever again,
which is not what I'm about by any shape or form.
'I want to know where Ella got the idea to give up meat and dairy
'when she was sick.'
You were looking on Google, you were trying to change your diet.
Who would you consider your influences?
I mean, lots of different people.
So, the first book that I read was The China Study.
-By Colin Campbell.
-Which, for me, was really interesting.
Always liked science, did science at school,
did biology at A-level, and it was full of science.
The China Study is billed as
"the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted."
It was the first time that I really understood that food could
potentially have a powerful effect.
That was not something that I'd really considered before.
And I think more than anything it was that, you know, vegetables and,
you know, were really actually...
could be amazing things and they could have an impact on you
that I would... never even considered.
A little bit too hot?
It's nice. The miso.
The miso is amazing. That's the thing, it's all about spices.
You need the spices, you need
the flavour to make vegetables interesting.
You're right, it's fantastic with everything, actually.
The China Study has sold two million copies.
Over hundreds of pages,
Professor T Colin Campbell promotes a plant-based diet
as the best for our health.
Prof Campbell published The China Study in 2005 and in it,
he said that plant-based foods were beneficial,
whereas animal-based foods were not.
It has proven to be very influential.
For instance, Bill Clinton, who,
in an effort to combat his heart disease,
is said to have changed his diet after reading the book.
Time to look at how the evidence stacks up.
I'm in rural Ohio to meet Professor T Colin Campbell,
author of The China Study.
It should be fascinating,
because I am not sure how well advocacy and science sit together.
Science depends on objectivity.
It depends on your work being able to be repeated by other people.
The real danger is in what we call confirmation bias,
which is when you see what you want to see
rather than what the data shows you.
I'm curious how much of Professor Campbell's passion
for his work has emerged from the data
or has actually framed his interpretation of the data.
Hello. Prof Campbell?
-Hello, I'm Giles.
-Pleased to meet you.
-Might I call you Colin?
'Colin is one of the world's
'most influential advocates for plant-based eating.'
We're getting in here, OK.
Now... I haven't driven this before. I haven't driven this before.
I'll tell you. I play golf.
'Colin grew up on a dairy farm in the 1930s.
'As a young nutritional biochemist, he didn't question eating meat.'
So, we all were, in nutrition, in a sense,
believing that protein coming from animal sources
was the most important of all nutrients, if you will.
In 1966, Colin was in the Philippines
helping undernourished children eat more protein.
I saw something that was at odds with what I thought,
that was for sure.
'There were reports of children as young as four with liver cancer.
'Colin thought there might be a link with diet.'
The families that were consuming the most proteins seemed to be
having the children that were getting more cancer.
In the lab, Colin induced cancer in rats,
then he gave them differing levels of casein, a protein found in milk.
It turned out that all the animals getting the 20% protein,
they all got the cancer.
The cancer was growing robustly.
In the animals getting 5%, it was not.
There was more evidence that seemed persuasive.
We could turn on and turn off cancer development by just adjusting
the level of protein. Really quite dramatic.
So, I was really convinced that this protein thing was really very,
-This is all fine and dandy, but it's rats.
It has nothing to do with the human being,
I'm questioning the direct transferability
between the studies you see in rats to human beings.
That's the reason that led to the China project itself, quite frankly.
How about the Instagram world?
I don't do too much of that, if it's OK with me.
It's OK with you!
Fantastic, and I'll make sure I post this when I get back to Wi-Fi world.
Animal studies can't always be counted on
but they helped convince Colin
that eating animal protein was linked to cancer.
In 1981 he began an ambitious human study.
The China project was a population-based study looking at
the incidence of disease in rural China.
Now, Prof Campbell and his colleagues
gathered data from 6,500 people
living in 65 different counties to try and understand the relationship
between diet and health.
'Colin looked for links between animal protein and disease.'
What we learned was that diets that contain more animal proteins,
-is associated with increase in cancer rates.
And heart disease rates.
'But the data on animal protein was far from clear-cut.'
So we had to look at it somewhat indirectly and comprehensively,
and we learned, for example, that blood cholesterol
-was a pretty good indication.
And that in turn was associated with the consumption of more animal
protein or animal food.
OK, so you're using cholesterol here as a proxy for protein.
As a proxy, yes. Largely as a proxy.
Scientists sometimes use the proxy method when looking for correlations
in sets of data. But it can be unreliable.
In order to make the connection between the eating of animal protein
and disease, Colin relied on data linking increased meat intake, A,
to increased cholesterol levels, B.
He then relied on additional data linking increased cholesterol levels
to increased disease, C.
The problem is, many other factors in addition to meat intake
influence cholesterol levels. Such as, for example, genetics.
So A does not necessarily link to C.
Therefore, in this situation,
the proxy method may not be very reliable.
Are you looking for what you wanted to see rather than what the data
-actually showed you?
-It's a very good point.
I'm very much aware of confirmation bias.
-So when I was looking at that I did the best I could to try to look
at it objectively, show it to other people,
in the kind of analysis that we did.
Standing alone, it wasn't enough.
I've said this many times.
The China Study, the China project,
that data set is not to make broad conclusions.
It's not strong enough.
The China project was not strong enough to make broad conclusions
but when Colin wrote his book he stated
plant-based foods are beneficial and animal-based foods are not.
Your work has inspired a lot of people, including people like Ella,
and, in turn, those people who are then writing cookbooks
and doing their things, are influencing millions of people.
-I guess my question is,
when you make nutritional advice,
which is what this is, which is
quite extreme, by asking to remove an entire food group...
-No, wait, wait. Let me tell you... It has changed a little bit.
I never... What I say, this is the goal.
And the reason I say it is the goal, is not because we have all the science in,
I just simply say this is the goal because as we proceed in that direction
I don't see harm occurring.
So I'm not making my arguments as if I had all of the evidence
to say this is true for everybody. I'm not saying that.
I'm simply saying that this idea here
is far greater in terms of its contribution to human health
than any other idea I know.
In the west, many of us are eating more meat than we should.
Evidence links high levels of red and processed meat consumption
to bowel cancer.
But The China Study's message to cut out all animal-based foods
to be healthier is not proven.
What do you think about having this idea that is not based on proof?
Look, you know, I'm not a doctor.
I'm not a scientist, and I've never ever pretended to be one.
And I read so many books and watched so many documentaries and they all
came back to one central thing which is that
more natural food, less processed food,
more vegetables, is a powerful thing.
The other day I posted on my Instagram account a picture of my breakfast,
which you can see here is a sausage and egg muffin and a cup of tea.
And I thought, you know,
I was just trying to pad out my Instagram account.
Within three days I'd lost 30 followers.
30 followers! Because I posted a picture of sausages.
So I think... No more sausages.
I'm not posting any more sausages.
I'm keeping to noodles and rice and trying to do clean.
I can't argue with clean's basic philosophy
of eating more vegetables and cooking from scratch.
But the way clean exploits social media
is changing our relationship with food.
And that could be far less positive.
I was sick of seeing images of perfect food.
I found that I was following wellness websites,
and following specific bloggers,
and they were making me feel worse about myself rather than better.
I want to bring up the darker side of social media with the woman who
first drove documenting food online.
-Pretty good, right?
-So, can I ask a favour?
-I know it's cheeky of me,
can we take a picture of it and post it to Instagram?
-Can we do that?
-No, of course. But let's do it at the table because the wood is going to look better.
-It's a better surface.
-You are professional.
I'm liking that.
'Ella owes much of her success to the way she has woven
'her personal life and her brand together online.'
So, we'll see who gets the better one.
In six weeks,
-That's pretty good, hey?
-How many followers do you have?
-A couple more.
Couple more? 290?
No, we're about to get to a million.
I'm going to argue that a significant proportion of those...
..even though they are intelligent human beings and should understand
that this is a brand, actually putting it out,
think that you are actually living like this.
But I do. That's the point.
And that's why it's a snapshot
rather than a 24-hour a day documentary.
Because I am. That is what I ate.
That is my breakfast.
But, you know, I made it a little prettier because I'm showing a picture of it.
You know, I think it's there for inspiration -
I don't think it's there to share my kind of day-to-day, like,
"My dog peed on the bed, oh, no, I missed the train,
"I'm going to miss an important meeting".
'As a scientist working on obesity,
'I know our relationship with food can be complex.'
Is there a danger of social media
driving disordered eating?
You know what, I think there can be,
and I think it is up to us to be as responsible as we can be,
to do everything to allow people not to take it out of context.
To me that doesn't stop at food.
That's the whole of social media.
And I think the whole of social media and as a collective body,
there is a responsibility.
This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I've got to do this properly.
'My social media journey is ending in a way
'I could never have imagined.'
I'm going to make a face.
But my investigation isn't quite over.
I'm about to find out what happens when pseudoscience
is taken to the extreme.
At his pH Miracle Ranch,
Dr Robert Young has gone way beyond the approaches advocated
by any of the gurus, with shocking consequences.
He's walking on water.
'Robert has built a multi-million dollar business
'on a miraculous claim he can use food to prevent all diseases.
'And even reverse one of the most serious.
'He uses the internet to sell cancer patients around the world
'a message of hope.'
So how many cancer patients have you brought in for therapy?
Well, first off, we don't
treat cancer, we help people understand
and educate them on changing lifestyle and diet.
Robert's view of cancer is utterly at odds with the medical consensus.
If someone is in a cancerous condition,
and I use it as an adjective,
not as a noun,
because cancer is a condition of acidity
expressed by a compromise in the environment.
'Robert believes the solution is infusing alkaline nutrition
'because all diseases have the same source.'
The one sickness and one disease is the over acidification of the blood
and then tissues due to an inverted way of living, eating and thinking.
'More than 80 cancer patients
'are known to have been treated here since 2005.'
This is where someone would actually stay.
the Medical Board of California began an undercover investigation of
Robert's activities at the pH Miracle Ranch.
Concerns had been raised by a woman treated there.
As the investigation went on,
one patient from Australia with pancreatic cancer died.
Where did she die?
-She died here.
-In this room?
That's what I understand, yes.
She died here in this room.
Yes, that is what I believe, yeah.
I wasn't here. I was out of town.
Genia Vanderhaeghen died from congestive heart failure,
fluid around the heart.
An invoice documented 33 intravenous drips over 31 days.
Drips included sodium bicarbonate, said to be an alkalising agent,
and were charged at 550 each.
Some were administered by Robert himself.
Who has given 30 IVs over 30 days?
Here, again, they do that in the hospital through hydration
but I'm not the doctor, so I was not giving those IVs.
-So you're washing your hands of all responsibility.
You own the land, you own the space.
-This is your facility.
-No, it's not that I'm not taking responsibility.
That's why I am in court and that is why I have this litigation but, no,
I am taking responsibility.
You know, but the bottom line is that I ran a facility
for people to come at their choosing, for a self-care programme.
What happened to one British woman who came to the pH Miracle Ranch
reveals how Robert operates.
Naima Houder-Mohammed was a young captain in the British Army.
Naima was a fighter. She fought to get through
selection for Sandhurst, she fought through Sandhurst
she fought her way through life in everything she dealt with.
Army skiing, or whatever it might have been.
And this, for her, was another fight in that long list of victories.
After Sandhurst, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She was told she had six months to live.
She refused to accept that this was the end.
Six months to live and she was going to die.
'Naima came across Robert on the internet
'and exchanged e-mails with him.
'He encouraged her to come to the ranch for "a healing programme"
'that would take at least 8-12 weeks.'
In one of your e-mails you describe it as a healing programme.
-A healing programme means you're treating them to try and
-cure them of cancer?
-I didn't say that we cure,
in fact, I have never said that we can cure cancer.
You don't even say that cancer is a disease.
In one e-mail, Robert insisted Naima pay for her care up front.
You kept asking her to send money before she could actually come here.
Well, the reason why is because the doctors need to be paid
and the people that are doing the massages need to be paid,
and the colonics be paid,
but I gave her the best price to make sure
that those people were paid.
Tens of thousands of pounds were raised so Naima could travel to
the pH Miracle Ranch.
She was supremely confident that she would,
with her willpower and this therapy, she would be healed.
That was the overriding emotion in her, that,
"Yes, I'm going to get better".
The problem is that if you are in a terminal state
and you are in a state where you are desperate for a cure,
you become very vulnerable.
-And she'll buy into anything to try and...
But I wasn't selling her anything and I didn't force her to come here.
It was her decision.
Naima's treatment cost more than 77,000.
After around three months at the pH Miracle Ranch,
her condition worsened and she was taken to hospital.
In early October, is when she contacted me from America.
I'll never forget the words.
She said to me, "Tell my parents I love them
"and please look after them."
I knew then that she had accepted that the treatment hadn't worked
and that she was going to die.
Of the 81 cancer patients known to have been treated at the ranch,
investigators established that the prognosis given to 15 before going there,
none of them outlived it.
There have been no clinical trials which have shown that, that...
that alkaline infusion can do anything, anything at all...
These things need to be studied.
Naima was brought back to the UK and died with her family.
She was 27.
They feel utterly betrayed.
It's just horrific that somebody could exploit people for money.
This is, I think, for them, the most disturbing element.
That for something as cheap as money,
he was able to destroy people's lives.
I'm trying to get out of you, you know,
what you feel about running this programme
and whether or not you have any...remorse.
The term is remorse.
I don't have remorse because of the thousands if not millions of people
that have been helped through the programme.
I can't control what people do or what they don't do.
Whether they drink their drinks or do the protocol or not.
It's a personal choice.
The investigation revealed that Robert is not a medical doctor,
and his PhD was bought from a diploma mill.
In court, he was cleared of two charges of grand theft
and convicted on two of seven charges
'of practising medicine without a licence.
'While Robert was imprisoned waiting to be arraigned on the charges,
'he made a telephone call to one of his employees.'
'Robert now faces up to three years in prison.'
You get a custodial sentence,
what do you think will happen to your movement?
It will continue because it's real,
and it's helping millions of people around the world.
It hasn't slowed down at all.
And it's not because of me, because
I'm just one piece of the puzzle.
Just like that book you showed me,
there are people that believe in the alkalising approach
and it's helped millions around the world.
Not far from the pH Miracle Ranch is a desolate area called Hellhole Canyon,
a fitting place to reflect on the nightmare of Robert Young's
alkaline food dream.
What I learned today gives us the true face, I think, to pseudoscience,
when it goes beyond dietary advice about vegetables and meat.
I think when pseudoscience is used to prey,
to manipulate the most vulnerable, the most ill in society,
that's when it becomes a true problem.
The gurus of clean are doing nothing wrong in helping people eat more
healthily, but with their growing influence comes a responsibility to
ground their promises in proof.
Now one of the most influential figures on the clean movement
says it has lost its way.
My problem with the word clean is that it has become too complicated,
become too loaded. Clean now implies dirty, and that's negative.
And we shouldn't have that. And I think it is sad to me that clean has
been taken so far out of, I think,
how it was originally meant to be used by people.
I haven't used it, but as far as I understood it
when I first read the term, it meant natural.
You know, kind of unprocessed.
And now it doesn't mean that at all.
It means diet, it means fad.
The NHS advises us to eat a balanced diet including fruit,
vegetables, whole grains and dairy, while limiting meat.
And the simple, if unfashionable truth,
is science has so far discovered nothing to prove otherwise.
So, what I've learned is that there are two worlds which coexist.
The world of science, of evidence, of objectivity,
and the world of clean,
driven by belief, where proof is personal
and food can do what medicine cannot.
As a scientist, I know which should prevail.
Imagine if the food you eat could 'clean' your body and make you feel well. Dr Giles Yeo investigates the latest diet craze and social media sensation - clean eating.
In a television first, Giles cooks with Ella Mills, the Instagram entrepreneur behind Deliciously Ella, one of the most popular brands associated with clean eating, and examines how far her plant-based cooking is based on science. She tells him clean has lost its way: "Clean now implies dirty and that's negative. I haven't used it, but as far as I understood it when I first read the term, it meant natural, kind of unprocessed, and now it doesn't mean that at all. It means diet, it means fad".
Giles sifts through the claims of the Hemsley sisters, who advocate not just gluten-free but grain-free cooking, and Natasha Corrett, who popularises alkaline eating through her Honestly Healthy brand. In America, Giles reveals the key alternative health figures whose food philosophies are influencing the new gurus of clean. He discovers that when it comes to their promises about food and our health, all is not always what it appears to be. Inside a Californian ranch where cancer patients have been treated with alkaline food, Giles sees for himself what can happen when pseudoscience is taken to a shocking extreme.