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What Is the Dr. Sebi Diet? (and Does It Actually Work?)

Dr. Sebi encourages sticking to a restrictive food list and taking costly supplements. While diets can be a dime a dozen, is Dr. Sebi’s diet worth the added expense?

What Is the Dr. Sebi Diet? (and Does It Actually Work?)


The Dr. Sebi diet, also referred to as the Dr. Sebi alkaline diet, is essentially a plant-based diet. It is also a form of the alkaline diet, and more on that later.

To heal the body from disease, Dr. Sebi encourages sticking to a restrictive food list. Oh, and taking Dr. Sebi Cell Food supplements that come with quite the hefty price tag. 

While diets can be a dime a dozen, is Dr. Sebi's diet worth the added expense? We explore if the diet is worth your time, effort, and money and if cashing in comes with any risks. 

Who Is Dr. Sebi?

Alfredo Darrington Bowman, or better known as Dr. Sebi, was born in Honduras in 1933. He eventually came to practice and open up treatment centers in the United States. 

The caveat of his "practice," though? Dr. Sebi is not an actual doctor and rather a self-studier and observer of herbs.

According to the official website, Dr. Sebi was a "pathologist, herbalist, biochemist, and naturalist" in various countries. Through his observations, Dr. Sebi "developed a unique approach and methodology to healing the human body with herbs that is firmly rooted in over 30 years of experience."

The method emerged after being led to an herbalist in Mexico in hopes to treat his personal ailments of asthma, diabetes, impotency, and obesity. "Finding great healing success from all his ailments, he began creating natural vegetation cell food compounds geared for inter-cellular cleansing and the revitalization of all the cells that make up the human body."

The creation of "Dr. Sebi's Cell Food" and a diet plan took off, claiming to cure many diseases such as cancer and AIDS. It sparked the interest of big-name celebs such as Michael Jackson, though Dr. Sebi became quite the name fixture as well.

Dr. Sebi ran into legal matters for making false claims and practicing without a license. He was also arrested for money laundering, contracting pneumonia in jail quickly after.

The self-proclaimed doctor passed away in 2016 under police custody, but the controversy behind his name and diet he built continues to this very day.

What Is the Dr. Sebi Alkaline Diet?

The diet aims to treat the underlying cause of disease, which is said to be where mucus has accumulated. For instance, diabetes is the result of too much mucus in the pancreas. 

The solution is Dr. Sebi's diet that consists of only alkaline foods, which are claimed to neutralize and heal the body. Alkaline diets, including Dr. Sebi’s, is based on the premise of controlling the body's pH balance. 

In conjunction with the alkaline diet, Dr. Sebi recommends taking his costly supplements known as the African Bio-mineral Balance compounds. They are "comprised of natural plants; which means its constitution is of an alkaline nature."

Following the diet and taking the supplements, according to Dr. Sebi, "will effectively cleanse and detoxify a diseased body, reversing it to its intended alkaline state."

How to Follow the Dr. Sebi Diet

Following the Dr. Sebi Diet mostly aligns with strictly abiding by the Nutritional Guide food list. And according to the official document, "If a food is not listed in this Nutritional Guide, it is NOT recommended."

So what can you eat, you might wonder? Dr. Sebi's food list is broken down into groups, including vegetables, fruits, natural herbal teas, grains, nuts and seeds, oils, spices and seasonings:

Vegetables:

• Amaranth greens
• Avocado
• Bell peppers
• Chayote (Mexican squash)
• Cucumber
• Dandelion greens
• Garbanzo beans
• Izote (cactus flower and leaf)
• Kale
• Lettuce (all, except iceberg)
• Mushrooms (all, except shitake)
• Nopales (Mexican cactus)
• Okra
• Olives
• Onions
• Sea vegetables (i.e. wakame and nori)
• Squash
• Tomato (cherry and plum only)
• Tomatillo
• Turnip greens
• Zucchini
• Watercress
• Purslane (verdolaga)
• Wild arugula

Fruits:

• Apples
• Bananas (the smallest one or burro/midsize/original banana)
• Berries (all varieties, no cranberries)
• Elderberries
• Cantaloupe
• Cherries
• Currants
• Dates
• Figs
• Grapes (seeded)
• Limes (key limes, with seeds)
• Mango
• Melons (seeded)
• Orange (seville or sour preferred, difficult to find)
• Papayas
• Peaches
• Pears 
• Plums
• Prickly pear (cactus fruit)
• Prunes
• Raisins (seeded)
• Soft jelly coconuts
• Soursops (Latin or West Indian markets)
• Tamarind

Natural Herbal Teas:

• Burdock
Chamomile
• Elderberry
• Fennel
• Ginger
• Raspberry
• Tila 

Grains:

• Amaranth
• Fonio
• Kamut
Quinoa
• Rye
• Spelt
• Tef
• Wild rice

Nuts & Seeds (Including Nut & Seed Butters):

• Brazil nuts
• Hemp seeds
• Raw sesame seeds
• Raw sesame "tahini" butter
• Walnuts

Oils:

• Avocado oil
• Coconut oil (do not cook)
• Grapeseed oil
• Hempseed oil
• Olive oil (do not cook)
• Sesame oil

Spices & Seasonings:

• Mild flavors, including basil, oregano, and thyme
• Pungent and spicy flavors such as onion powder and sage
• Salt flavors like pure sea salt and powdered granulated seaweed
• Sweet flavors, including pure agave syrup and date sugar

Other Diet Plan Rules

Aside from sticking to the outlined foods, other recommendations to follow include:

• Avoiding animal products, including dairy and fish, as well as hybrid foods and alcohol.

• Drinking 1 gallon of natural spring water daily.

• Taking Dr. Sebi's products and doing so regularly.

• Avoiding microwave use because "it will kill your food."

• Eliminating canned or seedless fruits. 

Dr. Sebi Diet Review

On the surface, Dr. Sebi's diet is rich in plant-based foods rich in nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The diet is naturally rich in phytochemicals, which are unique plant compounds.

Adopting a plant-based diet does show benefits, including helping people lose weight, lower disease risk, and improve overall health. This especially serves true if limiting a Westernized diet laden in overly processed foods

However, the diet is quite costly and restrictive. Some foods may be challenging to purchase and enjoy, including the preferred seville or sour oranges.

Dr. Sebi's diet likewise falls short of the essential macronutrient protein. Following a strict plant-based and vegan diet also issues the risk of other nutrient deficiencies such as iron, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.

The Bottom Line

All-in-all, Dr. Sebi's approach lacks any sort of science-backing, as diet and supplements do not impact blood pH levels. Besides, a healthy body has organs and mechanisms that tightly regulate pH balance and maintain an alkaline environment.

Rather than falling into fad diets and short-term solutions, nutrition experts suggest long-term success comes by making long-term lifestyle changes. This includes adopting a nutrient-dense diet, which includes a variety of different food groups. Limit overly processed foods, too, as they tend to supply empty calories and lack nutritional value.

Whether it be the Dr. Sebi diet or any other eating pattern of interest, seek out medical advice before pursuing. This especially serves true if managing a health condition such as diabetes.

References:

Dr. Sebi's Nutritional Guide. https://drsebiscellfood.com/wp-content/themes/sebi/assets/src/nutritional-guide.pdf

Dr. Sebi's Official Website. Dr. Sebi's Cell Food. https://drsebiscellfood.com/. Published October 28, 2019.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on July 13, 2020. Updated on July 13, 2020.

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