FACT CHECK: No, Eating Alkaline Foods Won’t ‘Beat’ Coronavirus

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An image shared on Facebook claims that eating alkaline foods can help prevent people from contracting the new coronavirus, which allegedly has a pH between 5.5 and 8.5.

Verdict: False

A virus doesn’t have a pH level. There is no evidence to support the claim that eating alkaline foods can prevent someone from contracting the new coronavirus.

Fact Check:

The internet is replete with alleged treatments and preventative measures against the new coronavirus that has sickened some 1.9 million people worldwide to date.

A post making the rounds on Facebook claims that one way to “beat” the virus is to consume “alkaline foods” with a pH level above that of the virus, citing the Journal of Virology and Antiviral Research. It lists nine supposedly alkaline foods that can fight off coronavirus: lemon, lime, avocado, garlic, mango, tangerine, pineapple, dandelion and orange.

However, viruses do not have pH levels, and following an alkaline diet cannot prevent someone from contracting the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, according to experts.

“A virus itself does not have a pH,” Sarah Stanley, associate professor of infectious diseases and vaccinology at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, told The Associated Press in an email. The pH scale is used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of aqueous solutions.

Stanley also noted that it is impossible for diet to change the pH of blood, cells or tissue, as the body self-regulates pH levels, per The Associated Press. (RELATED: Does Hot Water With Lemon Kill Coronavirus?)

Dr. Warner Greene, professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that eating alkaline foods “would not reduce your risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

“First, this virus is primarily spread by respiratory droplets and an alkaline diet would certainly not increase the pH of mucosal surfaces of the nose and oropharynx or the respiratory tract sufficiently to neutralize the virus,” Greene said in an email. “Second, the values shown for pH of these foods seem wrong to me.”

Indeed, the post lists incorrect pH levels for a number of foods that it falsely claims will help fight off the new coronavirus. For instance, it gives a pH level of 9.2 for oranges and 12.7 for pineapple, when they actually have pH levels roughly ranging from 3.7 to 4.3 and 3.2 to 4 respectively, according to Clemson University.

The values it lists for avocado and dandelion exceed the 14-point pH scale, further adding to the post’s dubiousness. (RELATED: Can Colloidal Silver ‘Kill’ Coronavirus?)

The Journal of Virology and Antiviral Research did publish a study in April 1991 about what happens to the pH of cells when rats or mice get infected with mouse hepatitis virus type 4 (MHV4). Yet, while MHV4 is a coronavirus, it differs from the human coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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