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ADRIENNE DUNN | USA TODAY
False claims and misinformation about coronavirus cures have circulated on social media as people search for hope and good news during the pandemic.
One viral claim about alkaline diets – eliminating foods that are high in acidity to change the body’s pH levels – has been shared on various occasions, and has also been debunked multiple times.
A claim posted on Facebook alleged that the pH of the coronavirus varies from 5.5 to 8.5, and “all we need to do, to beat coronavirus,” is eat alkaline foods above the pH levels of the virus.
The pH of the coronavirus
The post cited research from the Journal of Virology from the American Society for Microbiology. null
Though an article about a coronavirus and pH was published in the journal in April 1991, the abstract makes it clear that the study was about a different coronavirus, the coronavirus mouse hepatitis virus type 4, or MHV4.
The journal doesn’t claim that the MHV4 virus has a specific pH level or range. Rather, the study looks at what happens when mice or rat cells are infected with MHV4 at pH levels ranging from 5.5 to 8.5.
The idea behind the benefits of an alkaline diet claim is that increasing the body’s pH levels will create an environment that’s deadly to the virus. That is incorrect.
The study cited in the post is unrelated to the new coronavirus, because COVID-19 was unknown until the current outbreak.
The body regulates pH levels, meaning that diets don’t change the pH levels of blood cells or tissues.
An analysis by the MD Anderson Center about the relationship between alkaline diets and pH levels explained that a dietary change may result in a pH shift in saliva or urine, because these are waste products, but “there’s no way you could ever eat enough that it really impacts your blood.”
Alkaline foods and the coronavirus
Eating more alkaline foods is not a proven preventive measure or cure for the coronavirus. There are no established or approved preventive measures or treatments for COVID-19.
Though a healthy diet can help strengthen an immune system, there is no proof that an alkaline diet specifically is beneficial. null
The Facebook post incorrectly states the pH levels of some of the listed foods. The post listed lemons with a pH of 9.9 and limes with a pH of 8.2, when they both have a pH level of 2 to 3.
Donald Schaffner, a food science specialist, told The Associate Press, “These pH values for these foods are completely wrong,” and people can eat these foods if they want, but the best way to prevent getting sick is to stay away from other people.
Our rating: False
The claim that an alkaline diet will help beat the coronavirus is FALSE. The claim that coronavirus has a pH level of 5.5 to 8.5 cited a study from 1991 about a different coronavirus, not the one that causes COVID-19. The post misinterpreted the findings of that study. The idea that alkaline foods will help beat the coronavirus is also false. There are no confirmed preventive measures or cures for COVID-19. Though a healthy diet can help strengthen immune systems, there is not enough of an effect to stop the coronavirus.
Our fact-check sources:
- Alkaline diet: What cancer patients should know
- AP News, Eating alkaline foods will not kill the coronavirus
- pH Values of Common Foods and Ingredients
- CDC, Information for Clinicians on Investigational Therapeutics for Patients with COVID-19
- Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions
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