Dr. Sebi’s Alkaline Diet Guide: Investigating Electric Food Claims

Do pH balancing diets really work? Let's take a look at the science.

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Dr. Sebi’s Alkaline diet falls under the umbrella of alkaline diets, alongside other “pH-balancing diets” such as the acid ash diet.

These types of diet plans claim to “alkalize your blood,“ which means that they reportedly increase the pH of your blood.

But what does it even mean to alkalize the body? The purpose of following an alkaline diet or trying to make your blood more alkaline.

Proponents of the unsubstantiated1Fenton, T. R., & Huang, T. (2016). Systematic review of the association between dietary acid load, alkaline water and cancer. BMJ Open6(6), e010438. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010438acid-alkaline theory or alkaline diet theory believes that more alkaline blood helps “rejuvenate your cells“ by helping eliminate toxic waste (acidic buildup) from the body.

This guide will discuss Dr. Sebi’s Alkaline diet plan, the foods to eat and avoid, and potential Dr. Sebi’s diet benefits and drawbacks.

We will cover: 

Let’s jump in!

Different foods are on the table as a title image for Dr. Sebi's Alkaline Diet article.

What Is Dr. Sebi’s Alkaline Diet Plan?

Dr. Sebi’s Alkaline Diet, often just called the Dr. Sebi Diet, is a plant-based diet named after its creator, the now late Alfredo Darrington Bowman, who was better known as Dr. Sebi.

However, despite his moniker, Dr. Sebi was a self-educated herbalist, not a medical doctor or doctor of naturopathic medicine, nor did he earn a Ph.D.

Dr. Sebi created the diet based on the African Bio-Mineral Balance theory as a way for people to have a natural alternative to traditional Western medicine in terms of preventing chronic diseases and improving overall health.

According to Dr. Sebi, diseases cannot exist in an alkaline environment, and it is only when the body becomes overrun by acid that the net state of the body is acidic that disease occurs.

Furthermore, Dr. Sebi proposed that mucus is really at the heart of many diseases and that it is this buildup of mucus that occurs when the body is too acidic.

For example, in addition to suggesting that pneumonia is caused by a buildup of mucus in the lungs, Dr. Sebi claimed that diabetes was caused by a buildup of mucus in the pancreas.

Therefore, the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet plan was designed to be a natural path towards combating mucus buildup by reverting the body to a more alkaline state.

Dr. Sebi claimed that the diet would help restore balance and detox an already diseased body in addition to helping prevent future disease states from occurring.

Furthermore, Dr. Sebi initially made claims about the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet that had to be revoked due to a lawsuit in 1993, including promises that the diet plan could cure conditions such as aids, leukemia, lupus, and sickle cell anemia.

A variety of different coloured fruits on top of each other.

How Do You Follow the Dr. Sebi Diet Plan?

The Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet plan involves not only eating specific foods but also taking expensive supplements.

The Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet can be classified as a vegan diet because no animal products are permitted.

However, rather than having the flexibility of a vegan diet to eat any plant-based foods, the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet meal plan is specific and restrictive beyond the exclusion of any animal products.

There are certain vegetables such as bell peppers or zucchinis, whole grains, fruits, nuts such as brazil nuts, seeds such as raw sesame seeds, oils, and herbs that are all permitted on the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet food list, but not all foods that are vegan are permitted.

One of the chief differences between the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet vs vegan diet plan is that the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet does not allow for any beans, lentils, legumes of any type, or soy products such as tofu or even fresh soybeans.

This makes the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet plan very low in protein and quite restrictive overall.

Furthermore, adding to the rigidity of the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet plan, Dr. Sebi claimed that you must follow the Dr. Sebi Alkaline meal plan for life without deviation in order to fully heal your body and prevent disease.

The Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet plan website outlines 10 Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet rules that beginners must follow, which are summarized below.

A knife and fork next to a plate with a green bean on it.

The rules of the Dr. Sebi diet are very strict. According to his website, they read as follows:

Rules Of The Dr. Sebi Diet

  • Rule 1. You can only eat the specific and limited foods provided in the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet nutritional guide.
  • Rule 2. You have to drink 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of water every single day.
  • Rule 3. You have to take Dr. Sebi’s alkaline diet supplements 1 hour before your medications.
  • Rule 4. You cannot consume any animal products of any type, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, seafood, honey, animal byproducts such as gelatin, etc.
  • Rule 5. You cannot consume any alcohol of any type ever.
  • Rule 6. You have to remove all wheat from the diet and can only consume the “natural-growing grains,” such as quinoa or wild rice, listed in the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet guide.
  • Rule 7. You cannot use a microwave because it will “kill“ your food.
  • Rule 8. You cannot consume any fruits that are canned or seedless (for example, seedless grapes or seedless watermelon, which are genetically modified to not contain seeds).

As mentioned, the Dr. Sebi nutritional guide is a strict subtype of a vegan diet plan because you cannot have any animal products.

However, the approved foods also exclude legumes such as beans and lentils, along with soy, such as tofu, edamame, and soybeans.

These are typically key sources of protein in the vegan diet.

As such, Dr. Sebi’s Alkaline diet protein intake is notably too low.

A lack of protein can cause a myriad of issues, including muscle wasting, deleterious effects on the skin and joints, difficulty healing wounds, losing weight, and feeling satiated.

A woman empties some vitamins into her hands.

In addition to following the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet rules and Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet meal plan, you also have to purchase special Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet supplements called Dr. Sebi’s “cell food” products.

These Dr. Sebi diet cell food supplements claim to cleanse your body and nourish your cells.

There is a list of different supplements you can purchase based on your particular health concerns.

Dr. Sebi’s alkaline diet cell food supplements do not list all active and inactive ingredients nor the doses or concentrations of such ingredients.

The entire process of choosing and taking the supplements can be confusing because there is a lack of direction and specificity in both of these important factors.

Is Dr. Sebi’s Alkaline Diet Good for Weight Loss and Health?

The Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet isn’t specifically designed for weight loss, but many people do experience Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet weight loss results because the diet is so restrictive that it causes you to have a caloric deficit. But that is not the same as wellness.

A tray with beetroots and celery on it.

Despite the fact that the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet is not based on any scientific evidence, there are a few potential benefits of the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet plan:

As mentioned, there are many problems with Dr. Sebi’s Alkaline diet plan and we strongly discourage anyone from trying this diet and less specifically guided by a medical doctor and registered dietitian.

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. The Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet sets up a psychology of “good foods“ and “bad foods“ that might be linked to disease. This can incite eating disorders or anxiety surrounding eating and needing to choose the right foods. This does not promote healthy eating.
  2. There is absolutely no latitude in making any transgressions from following the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet plan. For example, there are no “cheat meals” or “cheat days,” even if you are having a celebratory meal, and you are supposed to follow Dr. Sebi’s Alkaline diet program for life.
  3. The diet is too restrictive, which can cause nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  4. The Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet does not provide enough protein or fat. Fat is necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat also helps synthesize hormones, among other functions.
  5. The nutritional supplements required by the Dr. Sebi Diet program are not regulated and do not even list all of the ingredients or their active compounds.
  6. Not only does this mean they might not work, but it can be extremely dangerous.
A table full of green and red vegetables.

Overall, there is a lot of criticism about the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet plan stemming from dangerous and unsubstantiated claims, rigidity and restrictiveness4Gibson, A., & Sainsbury, A. (2017). Strategies to Improve Adherence to Dietary Weight Loss Interventions in Research and Real-World Settings. Behavioral Sciences7(4), 44. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs7030044in the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet meal plan.

Additionally, the cost and ambiguity of the supplements and potentially unsafe practices involved in the Dr. Sebi Alkaline diet plan make it a bad option for someone seeking, sustainable, healthy weight loss.

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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