Episode 51

Rice and Fruit or Carnivore

Published on: 8th May, 2024

Rice and Fruit or Carnivore

The rice diet successfully treated malignant hypertension. Today, we have medications that treat malignant hypertension. Before the 1940s, there were no drugs available to treat this disease, resulting in death from untreated malignant hypertension within six months.  Despite the best medical care available, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died from this disease.

History of the Rice Diet

Walter Kempner developed the rice diet to treat malignant hypertension. For example, failing kidneys would be given a reprieve with a diet low in sodium and protein. Then removal of saturated fat would allow some recovery of the heart.

In a disease that had 100 percent death in six months, Kempner's results were amazing. For example, in Kempner’s original cohort of 192 people, only 25 patients died.  In addition, 107 patients showed significant improvement (from 200/112 mm Hg to 149/96 mm Hg) with the diet. Equally important, heart size decreased in 66 of 72 patients. Moreover, cholesterol was reduced in 73 of 82 patients. Finally, retinopathy improved or disappeared completely in 21 of 33 patients.

"Therapeutic results are little short of miraculous," noted an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Rice Diet

Patients were first hospitalized. The diet consisted of white rice, sugar, fruit, fruit juices, vitamins and iron. Total calories were 2,000 with 20 grams of protein and 150 mg of sodium.

Kempner kept careful records of his patients. Reporting success and failure is a key to academic transparency. Finally, the ability to reproduce the data in other centers provided the final key to Kempner's work.

Contrast the Carnivore Diet

The carnivore diet is popular among young, buff men whose living is made by promoting and coaching this diet. They sell the diet based on classic marketing techniques used for overweight patients.

  • Lose weight without trying
  • No need to log your food
  • Eat as much as you want
  • Hunger isn't an issue

Marketing phrases used by hucksters for years to trap people unhappy about their weight.

No Science in the Carnivore Diet

The carnivore diet relies on anecdotes, not evidence. Testimonials rule Facebook and YouTube sites. There are no publications about the diet. Finally, many in the carnivore community push against medicine. Conspiratorial thinking is strong, with phrases like this:

  • Doctors want you to be sick
  • The Medical Community wants to push pills
  • Vegetables have anti-nutrients

Try to raise a concern about how this diet would increase the risk of heart disease, and they double down with misinformation. They will deny the evidence showing that high cholesterol leads to heart attacks and strokes. Or make the claim that if you are "metabolically healthy," you don't need to worry about cholesterol.

No Academic Researchers

There are no academic research scientists following people trying the carnivore diet.

That means there is no transparency about the results. In addition, there is no accountability for any bad results.

Those who promote the diet include Paul Saladino, a physician who doesn't see patients and makes his income selling supplements.

The Liver King, who doesn't follow the diet, was caught using performance-enhancing drugs.

Shawn Baker is an orthopedic-trained surgeon who lost his medical license and makes his money promoting the carnivore diet. The New Mexico Medical Board ordered the "voluntary and permanent surrender" of Baker's medical license in 2017. "This action was based on failure to report adverse action taken by a healthcare entity and incompetence to practice as a licensee." He had his license reinstated but is not seeing patients for anything more than coaching for $150 for half an hour.

Ken Berry also lost his medical license for inadequate infection prevention in his offices. He has regained his license.

Concerning Comments

Some comments left on a recent YouTube video by Shawn Baker include:

  • A patient developed painful neuropathy from vitamin B6 toxic levels. He quit the carnivore diet and vows never to return
  • Another patient developed high oxylate levels. More kidney stones come from eating red meat than spinach - sorry, Paul Saladino.
  • One noted fasting glucose increased to 126, which we call diabetes. Saturated fat is not a friend of the pancreas and increases insulin resistance.
  • Another noted worsening kidney function with his filtration rate decreasing by 23 percent.
  • Multiple complaints about LDL, including one that went from 148 to 353
  • Psoriasis is often touted as being healed with this diet, but one noted their psoriasis spreading and getting worse. Red meat is highly inflammatory and not the optimal diet for people with psoriasis. Although psoriasis will come and go spontaneously, a carnivore diet is the worst diet for these patients.
  • Gynecomastia was noted by one male, and if you look at many carnivore shirtless salesmen of scams, you will see they also suffer from gynecomastia - those aren't pectoral muscles, those are breasts. Red meat can increase estrogen levels greatly.

Not once did Shawn Baker instruct these people to see their regular doctor for appropriate treatment and follow-up. Hopefully, this will change.

University Studies

Do a research study with human subjects in a university, and there will be an independent board looking over the results. If there are any adverse results, those are reported to the research board, and sometimes studies are stopped because of too many adverse events. When results are published, both the good and the bad - like Kempner's work - are reported.

Don't Do The Rice Diet

The rice diet is for historical purposes only. The Mediterranean Diet is a far superior and more balanced diet. With over 13,000 peer reviewed publications, the Mediterranean Diet is the current pattern of eating that we recommend.

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About the Podcast

Fork U with Dr. Terry Simpson
Learn more about what you put in your mouth.
Fork U(niversity)
Not everything you put in your mouth is good for you.

There’s a lot of medical information thrown around out there. How are you to know what information you can trust, and what’s just plain old quackery? You can’t rely on your own “google fu”. You can’t count on quality medical advice from Facebook. You need a doctor in your corner.

On each episode of Your Doctor’s Orders, Dr. Terry Simpson will cut through the clutter and noise that always seems to follow the latest medical news. He has the unique perspective of a surgeon who has spent years doing molecular virology research and as a skeptic with academic credentials. He’ll help you develop the critical thinking skills so you can recognize evidence-based medicine, busting myths along the way.

The most common medical myths are often disguised as seemingly harmless “food as medicine”. By offering their own brand of medicine via foods, These hucksters are trying to practice medicine without a license. And though they’ll claim “nutrition is not taught in medical schools”, it turns out that’s a myth too. In fact, there’s an entire medical subspecialty called Culinary Medicine, and Dr. Simpson is certified as a Culinary Medicine Specialist.

Where today's nutritional advice is the realm of hucksters, Dr. Simpson is taking it back to the realm of science.

About your host

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Terry Simpson

Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate, graduate, and medical degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. Until he found he liked people more than petri dishes. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2018 and 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.”