A post on social media suggests that drinking sodium bicarbonate and lemon juice reduces the acidity of the body and the risk of getting infected with COVID-19. The post, which also claims “Coronavirus mutates and multiplies in the body through acid cells”, has over 34 shares on Facebook as of March 6, 2020. An example can be seen here .
Reuters could not find any evidence that suggests the consumption of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or lemon help prevent COVID-19 infection. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there is no specific cure yet for the new coronavirus. “There are no specific treatments for COVID-19 and treatment is based on clinical presentation. Most cases are mild and self-limiting, and treated symptomatically”, a WHO spokesperson told Reuters.
The full claim reads:
“Due to the rising issue of coronavirus it’s been found that coronavirus mutates & multiplies in the body through acid cells, in simple form, if you have too much acid cells in your body you are more likely to be infected by coronavirus & if you have less acid cells you stand less chance of being infected, & we know that bicarbonate of soda reduces acid cells in the body, so in order to clear yourself of acid cells, drink a small amount of the mixture of water & bicarbonate of soda, just take 1 or even half spoon of it & pour it into your water dispenser or drinking bottle just to keep your acid cells at a minimum level. Stay safe.
For another alternative lemon juice of lemons themselves can help reduce acid cells. Now that you know, it’s your duty to tell the next person you talk about it.
This false claim could have surged from the theory shared online that “alkalizing” diets help prevent cancer. This theory is based on the idea that cancer cells thrive in highly acidic environments, meaning that an alkaline diet could help prevent the disease. This theory has been denied by experts in the field like the American Institute for Cancer Research. The institute says, “The studies finding that cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment were done in a laboratory setting.
It would be nearly impossible to alter the cell environment to create a less-acidic environment in our bodies. For example, the stomach is very acidic for proper digestion, so we wouldn’t want it more alkaline.” They go on to mention that healthy vegetable and fruit rich diets can help cancer treatment, but rather because of their vitamins and minerals as opposed to them being alkaline foods.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center points out that while an alkaline diet could reinforce healthy eating, dietary modifications will not change the acidity of the human body. “More importantly, there’s no way the foods you consume can alter the pH levels of your blood. The pH of the body is a tightly regulated. If you change your diet you may see changes in the pH of your saliva or urine because these are waste products, but there’s no way you could ever eat enough alkaline food that it impacts your blood.”
University of California San Diego shares on its health site: “Again, the alkaline diet recommends consuming mostly fruits and vegetables, which is a pattern of eating recommended for preventing cancer. However, these recommendations aren’t based on the acidity or alkalinity of the foods but rather the fact that these foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber.”
To protect ourselves from the new coronavirus, the WHO recommends that people frequently wash their hands, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and avoid close contact with those who are sick. (See the WHO’s advice for the public here and a Reuters video on how to protect against COVID-19 here ).
There is no published, medical proof that drinking sodium bicarbonate and lemon juice could help prevent the new coronavirus. According to the WHO there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Experts confirm that dietary changes will not affect the acidity of the human body.
False: Drinking bicarbonate of soda or lemon juice does not reduce the acidity of the body, nor does it help protect against COVID-19
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