The Dr. Sebi diet’s wild health claims and cult status make the diet worth exploring in-depth.
The Dr. Sebi diet, also called the Dr. Sebi alkaline diet, was developed by a self-proclaimed herbalist and healer, Alfredo Darrington Bowman. Despite what the name might suggest, Bowman, also known as Dr. Sebi, was not a medical doctor and did not hold a PhD. Alfredo Bowman died in 2016 after developing his diet and selling the supplements he claimed to cure all diseases on his website.
The Dr. Sebi diet is supposed to rejuvenate your cells by eliminating toxic waste, which alkalizes your blood. Dieters achieved the goal by eating from a short list of approved foods alongside many supplements that Dr. Sebi suggests.
Some of his claims, including that his diet cured AIDS and leukemia generated a great deal of controversy amongst the medical community, leading to many qualified health experts criticizing the diet and its health claims.
Although many Bowman’s followers abide by the Dr. Sebi diet religiously, its claims are scientifically unproven and not supported by reputable health sources. This article will cover the basics of the Dr. Sebi diet, the pros and cons of following this controversial diet, and its effectiveness compared to other plant-based diets on the market.
What is the Dr. Sebi Diet?
Born in Honduras, Dr. Sebi migrated to the United States to pursue his passion for holistic health and herbal medicines as a cure for diseases. He believed that the way traditional Western medicine dealt with diseases was ineffective and caused more harm than good.
Although Dr. Sebi was not a medical doctor, he was known to treat several celebrities while promoting the special diet that he insisted could cure all diseases that have a debilitating effect on the body.
The mucus-reducing alkaline diet primarily consists of plant-based food that aims to regulate the acidity levels in the body. It protects cells from mucus buildup that destroys organs and leads to illness.
Dr. Sebi Diet Rules
The Dr. Sebi diet has many rules that adherents must follow to get the claimed benefits. Some of the rules of the Dr. Sebi diet include —
- Only eat foods included in the official Dr. Sebi guide.
- Drink at least one gallon of water each day.
- Avoid all animal products
- Alcohol consumption is prohibited.
- Abstain from using a microwave, which can “kill your food.”
- Do not consume canned food.
- Avoid seedless fruits.
- Take Dr. Sebi’s supplements one hour before medications.
The Dr. Sebi diet is notorious for being a very restrictive diet. In addition to the above rules, the Dr. Sebi diet involves eating —
- Plenty of vegetables like peppers, arugula, kale, and avocados.
- Fruits like oranges, dates, apples, and bananas.
- Cayenne spices and powdered seaweed.
- All-natural sweeteners.
- Nuts and seeds like hemp, sesame, and walnuts.
- Oils like avocado, coconut, olive, and hempseed.
- Grains like quinoa and rye.
The Dr. Sebi diet has several additional restrictions, including honey, wheat, and legumes. Certain vegetarian foods are not allowed as well, including:
- Maple syrup
Dr. Sebi insisted that balancing acidity levels in the body was key to eliminating disease and prolonging your lifespan. His herbs allegedly remove the excess mucus from the organs by detoxifying the body and its cells.
Potential Benefits of the Dr. Sebi Diet
While there are no scientific studies to back the claims of the Dr. Sebi diet, there is evidence supporting the benefits of adhering to a plant-based diet with a long-term approach. Plant-based diets can aid in weight loss more effectively than other restrictive diets. Participants in a 2015 study lost over 7% of their body weight after six months on a strict vegan diet. 
Plus, research shows that plant-based diets reduce the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and provide other cardiovascular benefits such as lowering blood pressure and decreasing blood lipids. However, the study notes that plant-based diets should only be promoted through dietary guidelines and recommendations by qualified health professionals. 
Since the Dr. Sebi diet is low in calories, adherents should expect to shed some weight on this diet. However, there is no data to prove that the Dr. Sebi diet is effective in keeping the weight off, which can be a deal-breaker for people looking to shed weight quickly.
Drawbacks of the Dr. Sebi Diet
The primary downside to the Dr. Sebi diet is that it is extremely restrictive. All animal products like meat, fish and dairy are prohibited on the Dr. Sebi diet. In addition to animal products, the diet restricts beans and lentil consumption, making this diet unappealing for many and unsustainable as a long-term diet approach.
Another criticism of the Dr. Sebi diet is that a dieter’s average daily protein consumption is low. The foods permitted on the diet include vegetables, oils, and fruits, which are not rich in protein and many other essential nutrients. It is no secret that protein is essential for healthy functioning in the body, which the Dr. Sebi diet may not support.
An obvious downside to the Dr. Sebi diet is that it has no evidence to support its claims. None of the claimed benefits of controlling acid production in the body are backed by scientific evidence. Furthermore, many benefits claimed by Dr. Sebi are refuted since your body is already slightly alkaline.
Safety of the Dr. Sebi Diet
While plant-based diets are generally safe and effective, the Dr. Sebi diet isn’t a sustainable or healthy diet for the long term. Since the diet excludes many essential nutrients and is highly restrictive, most health practitioners do not recommend the average person to follow this diet.
Missing essential nutrients can be problematic for several reasons. People with iron deficiencies may see their condition worsen on the Dr. Sebi diet. In addition, this diet is not suitable for those with eating disorders and pregnant women. 
Sample Diet Plan
Below is a sample 3-day Dr. Sebi diet plan:
- Breakfast — Cooked quinoa with agave syrup, peaches, and coconut milk.
- Snack — Chamomile tea, seeded grapes with sesame seeds.
- Lunch — Homemade pizza using a spelt flour crust, Brazil nut cheese, and your choice of vegetables.
- Snack — Blueberry muffins, pure coconut milk, agave syrup, sea salt, oil, and teff and spelt flour.
- Dinner — Vegetable and wild rice stir fry.
- Breakfast — 2 banana-spelt pancakes with agave syrup.
- Snack — 1 cup (240 milliliters) of green juice smoothie made with cucumbers, kale, apples, and ginger.
- Lunch — Spelt pasta salad with chopped vegetables with olive oil and key lime dressing.
- Snack — Tahini on rye bread with sliced red peppers on the side.
- Dinner — Hearty vegetable soup using mushrooms, red peppers, zucchini, onions, kale, spices, water, and powdered seaweed.
- Breakfast — Shake made with hemp seeds, bananas, and strawberries.
- Snack — Smoothie made with mango, banana, and pure coconut milk.
- Lunch — Kale salad with tomatoes, onions, avocado, dandelion greens, and chickpeas, served with olive oil and basil dressing.
- Snack — Herbal tea with seeded fruit.
- Dinner — Chickpea burger with tomato, onion, and kale on spelt flour flatbread.
Other diets you might like:
- What is Keto Diet? Benefits, Drawbacks, and Sample Meal Plan
- Paleo Dieting: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
- Code Red Diet Review — Everything You Need To Know
- What is Flexible Dieting? It Sounds Good & Tastes Even Better
The Bottom Line
The Dr. Sebi diet is a fad diet that is too restrictive for most people in the long term. Although you might experience quick weight loss on the alkaline diet, you are prone to put the weight back just as fast once you come off the diet.
The purported benefits of the Dr. Sebi diet are unproven, and downsides could have dangerous side effects like malnutrition which can increase the likelihood of disease, something which the Dr. Sebi diet claims to prevent.
The best diet is a diet that you can stick to for the long term, and the Dr. Sebi diet does not fit the bill. For more information on effective diets and training programs, check out our Nutrition and Training resources at Fitness Volt.
- Kahleova, H., Levin, S., & Barnard, N. (2017). Cardio-Metabolic Benefits of Plant-Based Diets. Nutrients, 9(8), 848. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080848
- Costa, C. B., Hardan-Khalil, K., & Gibbs, K. (2017). Orthorexia Nervosa: A Review of the Literature. Issues in mental health nursing, 38(12), 980–988. https://doi.org/10.1080/01612840.2017.1371816