“Imagine if the food you ate could clean your body and make you feel well”

Undoubtedly, clean eating has become a diet phenomenon over the past few years.

Hundreds of diet gurus and food trends influence millions in a bid to ‘eat clean’. Clean Eating – The Dirty Truth sees Presenter Dr Giles Yeo dive into the positives and negatives of the clean eating craze.

The BBC programme is beautifully resolute in utilising science to expose those exploiting clean eating for personal gain.

Dr Giles Yeo brings intelligent charm when unearthing the truths and lies behind some key people fronting clean eating trends. However, he also highlights the remorse of those who started out more honestly in clean eating and have witnessed its changing face.

The Gurus

Don’t get me wrong, everyone has to make a living. However, when this comes at the cost of people’s health, it becomes dangerous. If you have global influence over something as important as diet, you also have a large moral responsibility. Dr Giles Yeo met face to face with these gurus.

Bill Davis – Gluten Free

Who is he?

Bill Davis, author of Wheat Belly, advocates not only a gluten-free diet, but a completely grain-free diet. Previously a cardiologist, Bill took an alternative career path after seeing rises in heart disease. This lead to the creation of his book which has sold millions of copies worldwide.

Why is he questionable?

Unfortunately, Bill’s approach makes many claims without grounding. He claims that all grains are harmful to every human on the planet, “without exception”. Bill supports his theory by stating we have only eaten grains for half of 1% of the time humans have occupied earth. That’s like saying we can eat raw chicken because our ancestors did, but ignoring the fact that we no longer use our appendix.

Bill also bases his theory on evidence that the protein in gluten can make the gut ‘leaky’ and cause your body to attack itself. Whilst the leaky gut aspect is proven, your body attacking itself isn’t; neither is the claim that gluten makes ALL grains bad for us. In reality, gluten only causes issues if people have a combination of similarly related health issues, it’s part of the cause not THE cause.

What’s the verdict?

Gluten-free makes sense if you have an allergy to gluten. However, if you don’t have coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity, removing gluten from your diet may have little or no benefit. It’s like taking hay fever tablets and not having hay fever. Removal of gluten is unnecessary for those not allergic to it.

Bill has latched onto a worthwhile diet choice for those with gluten allergies and monetised it in the mainstream. His “if I shout loud enough they’ll believe me” approach uses extreme measures to convince people they are making a healthy choice.

A reference was made to the Hemsley sisters who are also gluten/grain free. They state that they don’t believe in absolutes and one way does not suit everyone. Quite a refreshing statement where gluten-free is concerned.

Robert Young – Alkaline eating

Who is he?

Robert Young is the globally recognised father of alkaline eating. Robert believes all disease stems from transformation of matter and acidic properties. It transpires that he has never had any medical training, purchased his PHD online and is quite a shady character. Robert has made millions promoting his approach to clean eating in the process.

Why is he questionable?

His theory claims that by neutralising acid in the body through alkaline foods, you can help to improve your health and ward off disease. Ironically, diet has been found to reverse type 2 diabetes. However, this is through long-term diet changes coupled with regular exercise and healthier lifestyle choices. This is also a dietary inflicted illness. Robert actually implies that his diet may cure terminal illness!(!!)

There is no evidence to support ANY of Robert’s claims and he even admits this. Unfortunately, lack of evidence hasn’t deterred Robert, who runs a terminal illness treatment clinic. Not one of the patients investigated have been cured and he is currently facing jail time for his actions.

What’s the verdict?

There’s nothing wrong with eating clean via alkaline foods, it may improve your health. I personally feel it helps remove unnatural and processed foods which is a good thing! Unfortunately, Robert Young has taken this a step too far and now makes astonishingly wild and untrue claims.

It is quite concerning to see a man who has qualifications bought from the internet influencing so many people. Furthermore, claiming he can cure the most extreme illnesses known to mankind without evidence is very unnerving.

Refreshingly, Natasha Corrett from Honestly Healthy and an advocate of alkaline eating, provided a statement which promotes healthy and nutritious eating through moderation. To me this is “clean eating”. If a way of clean eating helps your health that’s brilliant, if it doesn’t, then avoid it.

Deliciously Ella – Plant-based Diet

Who is she?

Ella suffered with Postural tachycicada syndrome and after failure of traditional medicine, resorted to changing her diet to try and cure her illness. Ella claims doing so helped improve her condition and make her feel far healthier overall. Ella follows a plant-based diet and has multiple cookbooks which promote clean eating through plant-based recipes.  

 Why is she questionable?

Well, Ella isn’t really questionable. With Ella you get a sense that, unlike the other two gurus, Ella has a conscience about the message she promotes. Ella advises that for her, a plant-based diet was a way of eliminating processed foods. She openly admits a diet may not be the elixir of youth, it just worked for her. Ella also admits to feeling that clean eating has lost its meaning. Instead of implying you consume more natural, less processed food, it now represents a fad and extreme diet culture.

What’s the verdict?

Of all featured, I got the impression Ella had far more honesty when developing her approach to clean eating. Although coming under scrutiny in the press quite recently, I feel Ella understands what it means to eat in a healthy way.

Ella seemed to understand that not everyone will choose to follow a plant-based diet; what works for one person may not work for another. She seemed genuinely disappointed that for some clean eating has morphed into a fad and a payday.

Dr Giles Yeo provides evidence that vegan methods have no impact upon your health. Whilst this may be true, eating vegan traditionally has stronger moral beliefs behind choosing the diet (avoiding meat, dairy etc) which is fair. What I did take from Ella’s feature was the importance of excluding processed foods no matter what the diet choice.

Clean eating – the verdict

In summary, Clean Eating – The Dirty Truth is worth a watch.

It’s eye opening and shines a light on questionable gurus who influence a lot of people’s food choices. However, I feel the programme unfairly classifies clean eating. Portraying the whole concept of clean eating as negative due to a couple of untrustworthy individuals isn’t fair.   

In my opinion, an honest attempt to improve eating habits and health through moderation positive. It is important to do what it right for YOU and to do what makes YOU healthy. If this is gluten-free then great. If it means being vegan, go for it. There’s no point in eating in a “clean way” if you don’t need to. So long as you’re not over-indulging and doing everything in moderation, you’ll be okay.

Yes, Clean Eating – The Dirty Truth does expose clean eating’s dark truths. However, clean eating also has its amazing benefits. Just make sure to do your research and don’t go to the extreme. Listen to your body and the food you eat could improve your health and make you feel well.