A message is circulating on WhatsApp attributed to someone who identifies himself as Adrian Flores and claims to be an infectologist, listing a number of foods that are supposed to treat covid-19 in case of infection. In particular, he talks about products that are "alkaline above the acidic level of the virus", whose pH level "varies from 5.5 to 8.5". This is FALSE. Consuming food above the acidic level of the virus has no proven effect on the virus.
"Note that the pH of the coronavirus varies from 5.5 to 8.5. So, all we have to do, to eliminate the virus is to consume more alkaline foods, above the acidic level of the virus. Such as; Bananas, Green lemon → 9.9 pH, yellow lemon → 8.2 pH, avocado - 15.6 pH, garlic - 13.2 pH, mango - pH 8.7, tangerine - 8.5 pH, pineapple - 12.7 pH, watercress - 22.7 pH, oranges - 9.2 pH."
Some hoaxes are cyclical, and the one about alkaline foods as a presumed treatment for covid-19 is a good example. It has been circulating since almost the beginning of the pandemic, and has been repeatedly proven to be false. The structure of the message is virtually identical to others detected both by Verificat and by other verification agencies around the world. It basically mixes official prevention messages - put on a mask, keep a safe distance, stay at home - with others with little or no scientific basis, such as eating supposedly alkaline foods or taking ivermectin to treat the infection.
Verificat has tried to get in touch with an infectologist whose name, surnames, and localisation coincide with what appears in the hoax and his origin to discover whether, effectively, is the author of the message, but without receiving any answer.
A contradictory message
When we talk about the pH of something we are referring to the amount of acidity or alkalinity of a solution, something that depends specifically on the hydrogen ions in it. So pH actually stands for 'power of hydrogen'.
It is represented on a scale from 0 to 14 invented more than 100 years ago by a Danish biochemist, with 0 being the acidity end and 14 the alkalinity end. The neutral point is 7, which is held by elements such as water.
Knowing this, it is easy to understand why the message is false. In the list that Flores supposedly lists, there are foods that, according to him, have a pH higher than 14, (avocado would have a pH of 15.6 and watercress 22.7 pH) which is not possible because the scale ends up at 14.
The pH of the body does not depend on what we eat
The pH in our body considerably varies from one zone to another, with the highest acidity in the stomach (pH between 1.35 and 3.5) to aid digestion and protect the body from microbes. The skin or vagina are other 'hot-points' where the pH is low. In the blood, the pH should be between 7.35 and 7.45, which is regulated through the body’s own mechanisms.
Juan Pablo Horcajada, head of the infectious diseases service and general coordinator of Covid-19 at the” Hospital del Mar” (Barcelona) explains: "The pH in the blood cannot be changed by eating a food". The expert adds that there are foods that can slightly change the pH of the urine, "which has nothing to do with the virus", but not the pH of the organism. This is why alkaline diets (those that are supposed to 'cleanse' the body and help prevent cancer) have no scientific basis.
Anna Vilella, senior consultant at the Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology Service of the “Hospital Clínic” (Barcelona) is categorical: "Food cannot eliminate the virus. The virus eliminates itself, the body eliminates it or a medicine eliminates it".
We are a team of young journalists from Barcelona who work independently to combat misinformation in our territory and beyond. We rely on facts and data to verify what politicians say and the falsehoods circulating on social media.
We need you. With your contribution, you will contribute to a healthier political debate and help promote educational projects to teach citizens how to navigate information chaos and defend themselves against misinformation.
You can contribute as much as one euro and it won't take you more than 45 seconds (we've counted them). If you can, please mark your contribution as monthly and so we can continue to do our job rigorously and independently. Thank you so much.Donate