Kempner Rice Diet Whipping Us Into Shape

Image Credit: Andrew Hide / Flickr. This image has been modified.

Introducing the Kempner Rice Diet

Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought us through the Great Depression and World War II. Who knows how history would have been different had he not died in his fourth term as President from a massive stroke. In the following days and months, we learned that Roosevelt had suffered from severe high blood pressure for years. In spite of this, he was on no medications or other treatments. The reason for the lack of treatment is stark and simple: there were none. The state of the art at that time was death. Death, from so-called malignant hypertension—out-of-control high blood pressure—for which, it was thought, there was no remedy. But they were wrong. There was Dr. Walter Kempner and his rice-fruit diet.

A physician-scientist, Kempner trained with the best, fled Nazi Germany and set up shop at Duke, where he began treating malignant hypertension patients with a radical diet consisting of only white rice and fruit, with strikingly favorable results: a rapid reduction in blood pressure, rapid improvement in kidney failure, eye pressure, heart failure and other manifestations of this previously fatal illness.

He figured that if a low salt diet helped with blood pressure, a low protein diet helped with kidney function, and a low fat and cholesterol diet helped the heart, why not take it to its logical conclusion and design a no-salt, no cholesterol diet of almost pure carbohydrate. So, he designed a diet with less sodium than any low-sodium diet, less protein than any low-protein diet, and less cholesterol and fat than any other low-fat diet.

His hope was that it would just stop progression of the disease. Instead, something miraculous happened. In about two-thirds of cases, the disease reversed. There were reversals of heart failure, reversals of eye damage, and reversals of kidney failure. At the time, this was effectively a terminal disease where people just had a few months to live, but with Kempner’s rice diet, they got better. In my video Kempner Rice Diet: Whipping Us Into Shape, you can see before and after pictures of the back of people’s eyes. They started out swollen, bloody and leaking and then were nearly normal in a matter of months.

After being effectively cured by the diet over many months, many patients could then relax the diet to a more conventional plant-based diet and go on to live a normal, active life. The rice diet may actually drop blood pressures too low; so, we have to add back other foods to bring the pressures back up to normal.

An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine described Kempner’s results as “little short of miraculous.” Practically speaking, there’s probably no more effective diet for obese cardiac patients. The problem, though, is that most physicians lack the extraordinary persuasive powers required to keep the patient eating such a restricted diet.

When Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn presented his study results demonstrating in some cases reversal of near end-stage heart disease with a whole food plant-based diet, the Chair of Cleveland Clinic cardiology department asked, “How can we expect patients to stay on a strict diet like this when we can’t even get them to quit smoking?” Just like penicillin drugs don’t work at all unless we take them, plant-based diets don’t work unless we actually eat them.

The answer may be that the physician must have a zealous belief in the diet and must convey that passion to the patients. For Kempner, to keep his patients on the rice diet, he “brow-beat, yelled at, and castigated them when he caught them straying.” And he didn’t just browbeat them; he sometimes actually beat them. It came out in a lawsuit in which a former patient sued Dr. Kempner, claiming that he had literally whipped her and other patients to motivate them to stick to the diet.

Reminds me of the famous diabetes physician back in the 1800s, Arnoldo Cantani, who knew the remedy for diabetes was not in the drugstore, but rather the kitchen. To ensure compliance, if necessary, he would lock a patient up in a room for six weeks.

Thankfully, in terms of personality, Dr. Esselstyn is the opposite of Dr. Kempner. He is polite, soft-spoken, gentle and able to keep his patients on track without whipping them. And last but not least, Esselstyn walks the talk, following the diet himself, whereas Kempner died of a heart attack (though at the age of 94). Kempner’s work continues on in Durham, where they continue a relaxed version of the diet, allowing actual vegetables.

A year before Roosevelt died, Kempner had already published his miraculous results. It seems highly likely that had the rice diet been “provided to President Roosevelt a year before his death, his disease might have been controlled before his fatal stroke, and that this fatal event could have been averted.”

For those unfamiliar with Dr. Esselstyn’s work, check out:

Kempner was a lifestyle medicine pioneer. What’s lifestyle medicine? See, for example:

For more on Kempner’s work, see:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations—2013: Uprooting the Leading Causes of DeathMore Than an Apple a Day2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food, 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet, and my latest, 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

100 responses to “Introducing the Kempner Rice Diet

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  1. Having no willpower to make lifestyle modifications is obviously a big issue. Often it is not until a patient can see the “cemetery wall” that they even start to contemplate diet/ behavior changes. Esselstyn called his study group “the walking dead” — no wonder they were compliant. The results are the incentive, but getting patients to that place is the challenge. Nowadays, MDs don’t have the passion to challenge their patients but rely on the prescription pad to get them through each day.

    1. The prescription pad on which you say doctors rely is what stands between them and a malpractice lawsuit. Big pharma funds medical schools so why on earth do you think they’d allow anything that looks like a viable alternative to drug therapy?

      1. Hi Geraldine, thanks for your question!

        According to this paper “An archaeologic dig: a rice-fruit diet reverses ECG changes in hypertension”, the rice diet consisted of: “(…) It consisted of white rice, sugar, fruit, fruit juices, vitamins and iron, and provided about 2000 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 700 to 1000 ml of liquid as fruit and fruit juices. Sodium content was extremely low, about 250 milligrams per day, and chloride content about 100 milligrams per day. All medications other than vitamins and iron were discontinued. After several months, small amounts of other vegetables or lean meat might be added if the clinical response had been favorable. Occasional patients developed life threatening electrolyte imbalances, so Kempner insisted that all patients begin by being hospitalized for several weeks of close observation and monitoring of electrolyte levels. Twenty-four-hour urine collections, with measurements of volume, electrolytes and protein, were carried out (…)”

      2. I am on Dialysis now, with very high Blood pressure like 230/130, My dialysis tube is blocked and I have not been able to do it for 3 weeks now, I have been eating white rice, oatmeal with some straw berries and blue berries,some honey and cinnamon, I will cheat with boiled peanuts.sometimes.I feel pretty good overall, my BP numbers have come down some, right now I am seeing 180’s/100’s. only at the end of my 12 hours between taking my next dose of bp pills that bring me down to 117/77,I get 0 help from my Dialysis dr. I will go to the VA tomorrow to see what my potassium is was 4.2-4.5 3 weeks ago. I am trying to take as little insulin as possible.I will cut out or add whatever and stay true to it with real guidance.My last A1c was 8.5 up from 7.2 but with very little insulin use.

        1. after more reading, peanuts are out. I have went to a pretty steady plant based diet 5 month’s ago, have also lost 40 lbs,from 245 to 205 and 72″ tall. My rice diet has only been the last week, and like I said was wrong for eating the peanuts. I think the fruit and oatmeal are ok, I will try to keep this post going and let people know how it goes. I can make an appointment and get my dialysis tube cleared and re positioned in a few days.or he can tap a artery in the emergency room if I make it there to filter my blood if my potassium gets to high or low. I have no way to check it at home. I really hope this works. I think my GFR is around 12. I hope to get on board with my VA kidney PA, she is paid a salary from the VA no matter how many patients she has, and I feel in her heart she is there for me. I can not tell with my outside Dialysis doctor that the VA pays as long as he keeps me as a patient he is treating.Cured and dead patients no longer pay.

          1. Ok so today I have ate a bowl of white rice and some grapes, I have a pineapple I am going to cut up and for the next 2 month’s it will be plain white rice and fruit. I will add the sugar if needed. no insulin today or yesterday. My blood sugar right now is 377, I ate my rice and grapes 2 hours ago. my blood pressure is now 161/98 with a pulse of 66 at 5 am today it was 188/102, I took 1 Nifedipine of 60 MG, 1 Clonidine of 0.2MG, 1Lisinopril of 10MG. Before the infection I had in my leg 3 weeks ago my bp was better without the Lisinopril and my numbers were staying good about 18 hours at a time, I am only supposed to take these 2 times a day and I do. but the numbers get high around every 8-10 hrs. I will try dropping Lisinopril again soon, I added it cause after surgery removing a bone from my foot I was seeing 250’s/ 377 I may not eat again until it comes down, I really want to try staying med free. My daughter who works at the hospital were my bone was removed let me know 3 weeks ago my potassium was 4.2, So I will check again soon. I am calling today my 1st day on the walking dead rice diet.I did eat mainly rice the last week but I also put seasoning on it that was 180mg of sodium. and ate boiled peanuts,So January 20 I will know, I wish I had some guidance. I have no idea of what I simply do not know.

          2. Oatmeal is also out 143MG potassium. So plain white rice only and fruits like pineapple only. a real lifestyle change, but so is Dialysis, and complete loss of being able to pee and needing a cathider and simply declining more and more until I would just be being kept alive, I would rather eat just rice and fruit and drink fruit juice and live until I die.

            1. ok so now it’s 5:30 pm with no insulin my blood sugar has dropped from 377 at around 2 today to know it’s 221, I am sure that is lower then it was this morning before I ate my grapes and big bowl of white rice. Very happy to see this. now I am going to eat another big bowl of white rice. tomorrow I will try to keep track of my calories. I am only 208lbs but am still ok with losing 10-15 lbs.

              1. OK so this morning i was 207lbs,I did not take Lisentapril this morning at 5am,my bp now at 2pm is 162/98 with a pulse of 68, so I think the 2 pills are working as good as 3, still no insulin my sugar was at 225 at 1pm and I ate my bowl of white rice and drank a glass of my self made Pineapple juice.I am going to eat a few pieces of Pineapple as well. I am worried about my Potassium, as to low is just as bad as too high. I really hope on kepners rice diet these numbers come down pretty soon, I have not found any post from people that say this worked for them.I do not know if anyone is even looking at this.

                1. My new update, Today my sugar is 261, My BP this morning was 198/104. I decided to take my pig for a walk for the 1st time in over a month, as my foot was operated on a month ago Tuesday. I changed my bandage on Friday as the DR asked, and was Amazed ay how well it has healed, Even with my still to high sugar numbers, I am hoping my kidney’s have also healed, This wound on my foot has been open for 15 years and I have never seen healing like this on it before. This morning I dropped clonidine and nefipediine BP pills and only took Lisenapril. as when you stop taking Clonidine your BP skyrockets, So I am going to try and get off of that pill. 2 hours after taking my Lisinapril and walking a good mile. My BP is 166/98. I have now been sitting since I started typing this and it’s now 159/96 with a 60 pulse.I really hope that I can get my BP under control. I also am down to 203.2 LBS. I cheated on my Rice diet last night, Has 2 pieces of cat fish, corn and green beans. So until Thanks giving I hope it will be back to white rice and Pineapple only. I think I am at around 800 calories a day. I need to bump that up somewhere. I wish others would chin in on my report..

                  1. Just checked my BP it was 245/140, I think it is so high cause of the effect of stopping clonidine, I just took another lisentapril. I hope it brings it down, I worked all day today, This number is through the roof but I have no symptoms with it. I feel good. I am probably being stupid here. But we will see, I want to get off these meds. If this is my day,Then this is my day.

                    1. So right now I do not think the rice diet is working, I have been on it for right at a week now, I have lost weight and am down to 202 lbs today. My BP did not come down last last knight so I did take my pills 245/140 was just to high to keep playing with, I just checked my sugar this morning with nothing to eat yet and my meter just says HI I can not remember if that means 5 or 600 so I just took my 35 units of 24 hour Lantus in about 30 minutes I will take 20 units of fast acting Novolog that should get me down to around 100 if HI means 500 in a few hours,My foot has healed very well,But I am not seeing any effect on BP or sugar numbers.I think I will make my choice on what to do On thanksgiving day.

        2. Hi, Thomas Mccarthy! You may want to cut the boiled peanuts, and replace the honey with date sugar or date paste. More on that here: You can find everything on this site related to hypertension here: Everything about kidney health may be found here: Unfortunately, we are not able to give personalized health and nutrition advice on this site. I hope that helps!

          1. Thank you, I have stopped the boiled peanuts. still using the honey, but just saw your post, I am game for trying other options. I have done even better on staying completely plant based, still have not done any dialysis and still feel great.

          2. I watched the video’s Thank you, I am going to add flax seed to my rice as well as garlic. going to also try the 8 or 10 hour eating window. and the apple or 2 a day. I have to get this BP under control. my eGFR is now 18% so kidney’s are on the right track.

  2. I really believe many people who want to correct their diet and reverse disease would need an in-house program to be successful. Traditions, habits, customs and enablers would get in the way if these people tried to do it on their own. I have family members in this category and I wish there were more in-house programs such as the rice diet, the Mcdougall program and True North Center. But, family doctors would have to recommend the programs and insurance would have to pay for them.

    1. I agree! I have mentioned this website and the WFPB way of eating to many, many family members, friends and acquaintances, and only a very few have followed through. I think one of the key personality factors in determining whether or not a person will follow through is their having an “open mind” about new ideas, a scientific inquiring attitude, and similar type characteristics. And, sadly, a big motivator is being sick/feeling badly, and not having any success with curing the ailment with the “standard” approaches!

      I have always been the scientific, inquiring, questioning type, so when I found this website, I immediately started reading it every day! I had already converged, over the years, on a basically WFPB diet (from my knowledge of evolutionary theories), but I still ate a little meat, fish, and eggs, based on how the mainstream media (and gov’t) kept saying they were fine and we needed them for protein. But this website is where I became convinced that WFPB is the way to go! Of course, in my early years as a child, my parents fed me the SAD diet, because that was the mainstream way of eating when I was growing up. Better late than never! Let me add the caveat that I realize everyone has individual needs, so one’s diet has to be tailored to their individual needs. Just saying that, in general terms, the scientific evidence seems to support a WFPB way of eating and it seems to work for me. (If I die at an early age, I’ll let everyone know it didn’t work :-)

      1. I seem to be outliving friends my age and younger and all around me is cancer and heart problems while I go about with my genetic thyroid disease, no cold since the late 80s and active with yoga and weights. I became vegetarian while in college then vegan and now WFPB 15 years. I love doing my 3 week water fast every two years though I used to do them once a year but my blood pressure goes down too low now. May try the brown rice for at least once a week as I love the stuff though water fasts are much more cleansing. I still do those a week at a time a couple times a year. I just feel better afterwards feeling I’ve given my body a rest. All this works for me.
        Dr. Furhman has written an excellent book on fasting and describes his long fast more than three weeks. If one has health issues, he/she should see a doctor familiar with these issues and fasting.
        I have a friend who was seriously overweight taking 9 meds with lots of health issues including diabetes who did a month’s water fast at True North and was able to get off all meds but went on a trip overseas and started eating meat, came home and is now back on her 9 meds seeing her old doctors again. What a shame.

    1. This is not new. The vast majority of people in developed countries (esp. US) eat too much salt. However, zero or very little salt is not good either. Especially in summer, when I go out and play baseball with 25 year olds for 3 hours in 90 degree heat, I sweat a lot. You need to get the electrolyte back. Olives are better than gatorade :) John S

    2. WOW, these researchers only considered a diet to be high in sodium if it exceed 6 grams of sodium a day! And “low” sodium is anything less than 3 grams a day!

      Commentary on this study highlights that the researchers used a spot urine method rather than 24-hour total to determine sodium intake. Since the body excretes excess sodium as rapidly as possible, the amount of sodium in the urine would naturally rise and fall throughout the day. A single data point would only coincidentally reflect the actual sodium intake.

      Also the commentary says that the researchers never discussed the possibility of reverse causation, where seriously ill and dying people simply consumed less food and so less absolute amounts of sodium. Also people often don’t get really serious about their diets until something seriously goes wrong with their health. So it is also possible that people deliberately cut their sodium intake but only after they are very ill. So reality could be that low sodium isn’t a cause of increased mortality, but rather that illness prior to death is a cause of low sodium intake.

      These two factors are enough for me to not give much weight to the results.

  3. I would love to try this diet and hopefully get off my BP meds
    Any info on amounts and types of fruits to consume daily? I am thinking of trying it for two weeks and evaluating the results

    1. Lida Krieger: I’m really glad Will came up with that link. It is really helpful.
      I just want to point out a couple of things. First, in one the videos on NutritionFacts, Dr Greger points out that the strict Kempner diet should only be done under a doctor’s close supervision, because there are some potential dangerous situations that may need correction. Who says? Dr. Kempner himself…
      However, unless you are at death’s door, you can follow a diet by yourself that is both perfectly safe and a lot more tasty/full of variety. Here’s how Dr. McDougall puts it in the article that Will provided:
      “The diet I recommend, the McDougall Diet, is for the living. The Rice Diet is one that I reserve for the “nearly dead.””
      So, you can research Dr McDougall’s diet. Or consider the free program from PCRM (Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine) called 21 Day Kickstart. The program will “hold your hand” for 21 days, including meal plans, recipes, videos, inspirational messages, and a forum (moderated by a very respected RD) where you can ask questions.
      (Click the green “Register Now” button.)
      Or you can do your own thing following some guidelines like these:
      * no meat, diary, eggs, oil (extracted oils)
      * no added salt
      * mostly low fat, whole plant foods such as: beans, grains, fruit, veggies, mushrooms. *Some* higher fat foods like nuts and seeds and avocados may be OK or even desirable depending on your situation.
      * don’t forget your vitamin B12 pills (and maybe also vit D and algae-based DHA — see Dr. Greger’s recommendations:

      * eat about equal amounts of the main 4 food groups: beans, grains, fruit veggies. And eat as often or as little as you want as you want until you are full, but not over full.
      Hope that helps!

      1. Thx Will and Thea
        Will definitely follow through and read
        I have noticed some products at grocery store with Dr McDougall as provider
        Has anyone tried and can recommend? I am working hard at reducing meat intake
        Doing well with fruits and grains but definitely need to work on incorporating more veggies

        1. Hi Lida, The McDougall products have his name on them, but he does not personally produce them, per an interview he gave at one point. The products taste ok but are not very filling and are often high in sodium. When you look at a carton, many are tagged as being “2 servings” so if you double the sodium listed per serving, you’ll see how high they really are, even the ones branded as ‘low sodium.’ I don’t know anyone who would only eat half of such a small carton and feel satisfied. If you are able to cook for yourself, better to go that route and save the McDougall cartons for an emergency lunch or to take along when backpacking. Some people put only half the flavoring packet in as one way to reduce the sodium.

          There are many good websites with tested recipes to help you find good substitutes for meat and tasty ways to incorporate more veggies into your meals. Try,,, as well as for great recipes. Chef AJ has videos with cooking shortcuts and recipes at Good luck! Enjoy the journey.

        2. I recall that Dr. McDougall divested himself of interest in the brand, but do not have a reference for that. Could have been in one of his books, or may be somewhere on his website, So the formulations may or may not be his originals. These products can get you by in some situations, such as travel, but probably should not be depended on daily. There are many quick and easy recipes on the internet. Dr. McDougall’s (actually his wife Mary’s) recipes are here: Dr.McDougall Newsletter Recipes Index be sure to bookmark it. Clicking on a recipe title will link you to the recipe in a newsletter issue. All recipes and information on his site is free. There is also

          his free ten-day program, with recipes as are provided in his ten-day residential program at this link: Dr. McDougall’s Free McDougall Program Meals can be repeated to fill out the 14 days or you can pull from the recipes index. Do not forget beans! And leafy greens. See Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen for what he tries to get in his own diet on a daily basis: Dr Greger’s Daily Dozen Free App for Android and iPhone

        3. “reducing meat intake”??
          Try “reducing smoking”.
          Try “reducing alcohol intake” (if u r a fellow drunk).
          It does not sound as if u have decided that u really want to b well, yet.
          Empty your kitchen of the crap, don’t bring it home.
          Don’t eat out.

    2. Two weeks is all it will take. By chance i had a doctors appointment after two weeks of this diet and my blood pressure was very normal. If you have high blood pressure it’s definitely the way to go. Unfortunately, I did not stick to the diet. It’s tough.

      1. The book to which you refer is only loosely based on Dr. Kempner’s original program. Rice is not even prominently featured in the food plan.

    3. Check out The Rice Diet Report by Judy Moskovitz on Amazon. This book was written by a woman who stayed at the Duke facility and subsequently worked there. She has all phases of the diet listed in her book. I did phase one for five weeks and lost 31 pounds. I then moved on to a more traditional McDougall diet.

    1. The benefits outweigh the risks.

      And surprisingly, rice grown overseas has less arsenic than rice grown in the USA, in particular Louisiana and California also (?)

    2. hid
      what really amaze me that the folks in the western world have no clue how that over 1.7 billion people eat white rice as their main dish for every meal with veggies and very little meat and are so much healthier than the western world people are so easily brain washed by the milk and diary, and the meat industry i have been to china in Beijing theres 20 million people like a sea of people and in my thirty traveling around in china i only saw 2 people who were heavy not fat heave probably15 lbs over weight
      the only fat person i saw was in my hotel on the bund she was leaving going back to the states. all the people there were slim and trim and it look like they were all made with a cookie cutter same built

  4. Be careful. This diet needs to be monitored by a knowledgeable practitioner. It can lead to nutrient deficiencies and serious harm if you don’t know what you are doing.

    1. I vote it;s safe for 10 days or less , McDougall has suggested to do 10 days of just potato . Pretty sure he considers that safe.

      1. esben andersen: Interesting point. How many days could someone go on the Kempner diet without supervision and have it be safe? And would that be enough days to make an impact? Interesting.

        1. With some fruit juggling (cantaloupe for vitamin A, pineapple for more minerals, etc), one can get pretty close to adequate intakes of most micronutrients in a Kempner rice diet, except the essential amino acid lysine, vitamins B2, B12, and E, and minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

          I’d expect the first apparent deficiency would be for B2, but when WWII conscientious objectors were fed riboflavin restricted diets at similar levels (~0.5 mg), ariboflavinosis required many months to become symptomatic. B12 deficiency has the most severe consequence, irreversible neurological damage, but given the body has large stores that can require years of depletion. E is fat soluble so hangs around, the one depletion study among mental inpatients ran for six years, and found symptoms in 1-2 years. The skeleton offers a substantial buffer for calcium intake. Magnesium intake, while low, is in the typical American range. The low sodium content of the Kempner diet may obviate the need for as much potassium. And the lysine restriction, while limiting muscle growth, seems a good candidate as an effective mechanism of the diet. It appears the basic Kempner diet wouldn’t cause symptomatic deficiencies for months, and most of its nutritional deficiencies could be patched with B12, a multivitamin, and some greens for the calcium.

          1. Darryl: Thank you for that very interesting analysis. It all makes sense to me.
            So, either Kempner was just guessing about potential problems with his diet if done without supervision, or he saw some problems in patients that you didn’t cover above, or he wasn’t doing careful “fruit juggling”. That last point may be key. I also wonder if some people are close to B12 deficiency before starting such a diet, then it may be very quickly that problems arise if someone does not know to take a B12 supplement.
            So, between your information and my own thoughts, my guess is that the Kempner diet may be safe to do on one’s own for at least a couple of months, but only if someone understands some important details. And thus maybe directing people to work with a professional who understands those details may be good general advice to give. What do you think of that?

            1. When one looks at surveys like this, its clear that many Americans currently eat diets more lacking in essential nutrients than the Kempner diet. This probably has health impacts, but it takes really severe cases like the B1 deficiency common in chronic alcoholism, or long-term vegan diets without B12 supplementation, before acute deficiency syndromes appear.

              Kempner’s rice diet program began in 1939. The vitamins B1-6, E, and K had just been identified in the mid-late 30s. B9 would be isolated in 1941, and B12 in 1948. Doctors in that era couldn’t prescribe a preventative multivitamin, they could just identify symptoms of acute deficiencies and halt their elimination diets, perhaps offering then available yeast and liver extracts. There was enough uncertainty about nutrient requirements and the typical timescale for deficiencies to appear that supervision made sense. I suspect medical supervision of a rice diet today is less due to uncertainty about nutrient requirements, than rare preexisting conditions that prevent absorption of some vitamin forms.

    2. The Kempner Rice Diet in the video is just to prove that a simple rice diet can fix a lot of diseases. It is better than the SAD diet but it is by no mean the diet anyone wants to use today after there is more knowledge on nutrition science. Use Daily Dozen diet instead.

      1. Jimmy: You wrote: “…it is by no mean the diet anyone wants to use today…” I would take the opinion of a doctor over that statement. There are people who are in really bad shape where the Kempner diet is called for even today. See previous quote from Dr. McDougall.
        Thus, there are people today who may need to start with Kempner’s diet under the supervision of a doctor. paul’s warning is well received. That doesn’t mean that there is no place for the Kempner diet.

    3. …and yet, no monitoring is needed to overeat at McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, or, well, you get my point. Considering that the average American is slightly overweight to obese, I’m guessing little harm can come of eating rice and fruit for a few weeks– though I’d highly recommend buying only organic. For chronic health conditions do check with a doc. Many doctors, however, are going to pooh pooh this regimen. That’s what docs are trained to do. That’s what big pharma requires. I wouldn’t tell my doctor a thing!

  5. I doubt if President Roosevelt’s personal doctors would have allowed him to undertake the Kempner Rice Diet. They would have complained that the success Kempner had was simply anecdotal, and there needed to be many more double blind studies. Besides, if this really worked they would have known about it a long time ago. And most significantly of all, this diet was not FDA approved, and it smacks of being just another fad diet….or maybe even quackery. Sound familiar?

  6. A great story to help those with such maladies. Hope you find a way to condition people through Pavlovian method to change behavior to a more healthy diet/lifestyle. A lot of our maladies are the result of profiteering motives: it is almost impossible to have a healthy and tasty food in almost all eateries around the country. Happy hours are filled with stressed out office workers consuming lots of alcohol, greasy/salty/fatty but “delicious” foods never aware of what they are doing to themselves while wasting their hard earnings to slowly destroy their lives. The profit motive is the basic villain and we have to find a way to make healthy food profitable and edible if the intent is to have a physically/mentally healthy society. So much of our ills could be cured if we found a way to create a social order that guarantees a decent life for all in sickness and health, youth and old age with incentives to work within the tolerable levels of each. Until then, your efforts are the most important factor of keeping people healthy. May the FORCE be with you.

    1. Extraction: you lose your tooth. Root canal: you still have the tooth but sometimes there are complications such as infection. Personally I had root canal in the past and it still stands solid today and probably lasts a lifetime. But some people at my workplace get infection and pain.

      1. I’ve heard that root canals can create internal bacterial issues long-term. Actually, a lot of info on this online, people saying to consider opting out of them. Glad to hear it has worked for you.

        1. I think the key thing to consider is that if you are prone to infection then don’t do it, otherwise do. Plus pick a good dentist. I don’t like the idea of missing teeth in my mouth. Mine is like the original teeth, strong and I can bite food like a real one. And it looks real too.

    2. Many people will tell you that root canals are frequently associated with breast cancers on the same meridian. I’m not offering my opinion, but suggest you read some of those who think they should be avoided before making up your mind. Here are three to get you started:,,

      Your dentist will probably disagree with these, so read about their opinions, too.

  7. hat is the difference between McDougall Diet and Dr. Fuhrman? I’ve been trying to follow Dr. Fuhrman, are they basically the same thing, just a few minor philosophical differences, per say?

    1. No they don’t seem the same , McDougall is starch based , so lots of potato, rice ,whole grains , seems easier to me than Furhmans , both have good points .

      1. I prefer the Daily Dozen by Dr Greger which contains both whole grain, seed, nut and vegetables (variety), fruits (variety), spices. It is more complete than the other 2 diets and you need all to fight diseases. There is no weight gain after eating this much.

        By the way, the Kempner Rice Diet in the video is just to prove that a simple rice diet can fix a lot of diseases. It is better than the SAD diet but it is by no mean the diet anyone wants to use today after there is more knowledge on nutrition science.

        1. I did phase one of the Rice Diet for five weeks. I lost 31 pounds. The low calories cause you to lose your appetite. By the end of the five weeks, I couldn’t even eat the recommended quantities, which only added up to about 700-800 calories a day anyway. My doctor was astounded by the drop in my blood pressure. I gradually phased in the McDougall diet, lost another 14 pounds, and my primary starch continues to be rice. :) I just love the stuff. Some days are “Kempner days,” in that I’ll only eat rice and fruit, especially if I’m really busy. :)

  8. Durianrider, an Australian bicyclist/raw food enthusiast and infamous vegan Youtuber, has been on an updated version of the Kempner diet for many years now. The original Kempner diet included refined sugar and vitamin supplements in addition to the rice, fruit and fruit juice..

      1. people with stage 5 kidney failure do not want to eat brown rice as it has Potassium that is not good for them. So for medical treatment,stay with white rice

    1. I remember hearing that he chose white rice for a reason…maybe it had less protein? Denise Minger, yes the one who challenged the China Study, has a video (“Lessons from the Vegans”) and long blog post that are both favorable to Kempner and similar diets. She one of the most open-minded people in the paleo camp.

      1. Probably more likely that brown rice wasn’t available or was too expensive. I ate brown rice while I was on the diet, but also ate black rice, jasmine rice, white rice, or mixed brown and lwhite rice together which is still my favorite way to eat rice.

    2. I ate brown rice, white rice, a mixture of the two, jasmine rice, and black rice when I was on the diet. I did it for five weeks, lost 30 pounds. Any starches are really allowed, even in phase one, it’s just that the quantities are limited Phase one is not ad libitum eating, it’s why the weight loss is so dramatic, it is about 800 calories a day.

  9. I love the article! Two years ago, the end of August 2014, I got the results of a Coronary Calcium Score that was rather high. I decided to do my own research and discovered the WFPBNO approach advocated by Dr. Caldwell B Esselstyn Jr. and complimented by T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Michael Greger, as well as others. I subsequently traveled to the Cleavend Clinic and did their intensive – Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Program. I completed the Certificate Program in Plant based Nutrition from T. Colin Campbell at eCornell. The bottom line is this: People need an awakening! But a suspect some people will never awaken. However, it is possible to change. It is possible to be the change you want to see in others. It is however, important to walk the life ourselves so others will see and come to desire what we have.
    I am now a committed WFPB guy! I now just walk, live and share with others as I have opportunity. #eatyourveggies.
    FB: Steven Jay Mattis, Instagram @SteveMattis for food diary.

    1. I think it’s a shame it takes most of us a lifetime of poor habits and the big scare to seek out the WFPB info that could have benefited us so much more had it been the default diet. That is what I hope to see! Granted though, it is never too late!

      1. Dr. McDougall’s 10 day live-in program costs less than 25% of the annual cost of treating a “new” diabetic. Plus u get to keep both feet, kidneys, eyesight and your life. I believe (but do not know) that some insurance companies pay for Ornish and Pritikin. More will b forced to pay for PCRM, DrMcDougall, etc. as the “disease treatment” industry collapses.

        These inexpensive programs that actually work, are not for everyone: most people prefer pills and butchering: for most the protein addiction (God put morphine in milk to make sure babies would nurse. That’s why most vegans miss cheese much more than meat) is just too strong.

          1. make this cheese at home, it will blow you away
            2 cups of rolled oats
            1/4 cup corn starch
            1/2 cup nutritional yeast
            2 teaspoons onion powder
            1 teaspoons salt
            1 12oz jar of Fire roasted red pepper in water,dump the whole jar in your blender.
            1 teaspoon lemon juice
            1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke ( pecan flavor)
            4 cups water (hot) to activate corn starch.
            mix for 5 minutes in high speed blender.
            everyone you know will love these cheese sauce.

    2. Steve, great story and thanks for sharing. Have you read Dr. Esselstyn’s book How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease? Great book. He and two of his really ill heart patients are discussed and featured on the DVD Forks Over Knives.

      1. Hiya, . . The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Program, which Steve mentions he attended at the Cleveland Clinic, is Dr. Esselstyne’s program as well as the title of his book. Esselstyn spent his career at CC and is married to the granddaughter of the George Crile, Sr who started the Clinic all those years ago. Steve did one better than just read Esselstyn’s book – he took the course.

  10. Loved this article. I was a nursing student at Duke when Dr. Kempner had his program there. Elvis and Colonel Sanders were among celebrities coming to get this treatment. Early one morning I found myself on an elevator with colonel Sanders in his traditional suit. He looked exactly like the Southern gentleman in his pictures. For a minute I thought I was dreaming. I have a feeling if Elvis had stayed on the program, we would have had him with us longer.

    1. The diet doesn’t cure drug addiction, unfortunately. Wasn’t Presley an alcoholic or addicted to pain meds or narcotics? Colonel Sanders at the Rice House – priceless.

  11. Let’s not forget that FDR was a cigarette and cigar smoker; he was famous for his cigarette holder-between-the-teeth profile. It would be appreciated if someone could take the time to read and critique an argument for smoking being the cause of death notwithstanding his SAD eating habits. Neither is a healthful way to live ones life, but when I mentioned today’s column to my 76 year old omnivore wife (with high blood pressure and diabetes), her immediate retort went to his lifetime smoking habits. It is for my domestic tranquility that I ask the question: Which, in FDR’s dietary case, is the lesser of two evils? It’s a very 2016 conundrum. Here is the article:

    1. Tired of War: Your comment got caught in the SPAM filter. I released it, but I don’t think when I release it that people will get an e-mail about your post. Your post is so interesting, I’ll repeat it here in the hopes that one or more of our well researched participants will give it a go for maximizing your marital bliss:

      “Let’s not forget that FDR was a cigarette and cigar smoker; he was famous for his cigarette holder-between-the-teeth profile. It would be appreciated if someone could take the time to read and critique an argument for smoking being the cause of death notwithstanding his SAD eating habits. Neither is a healthful way to live ones life, but when I mentioned today’s column to my 76 year old omnivore wife (with high blood pressure and diabetes), her immediate retort went to his lifetime smoking habits. It is for my domestic tranquility that I ask the question: Which, in FDR’s dietary case, is the lesser of two evils? It’s a very 2016 conundrum. Here is the article:…”

  12. Introducing the Kempner Rice Diet Food Challenge for competitive eaters! Guaranteed to be healthier than hot dogs or other foods typically used in competitive eating contests! Sometime I’ll try this after doing a triathlon-like workout…. then I’ll probably feel so energized that I’ll be compelled to do another triathlon!

    1. The original Rice Diet is calorie restricted, hence its success in weight loss. I did it for five weeks and lost 31#. So, no, your scenario doesn’t sound likely.

  13. help anyone?
    what really is a GOOD diet?
    I am diabetic ; HBP; glaucoma; and a blocked heart NERVE
    what is the truth about EGGS? GOAT milk? rice? oats? quinoa? potatoes? fish [Hg]
    chicken? beef?
    When I eat plants broccoli; cabbage; cauliflower; asparagus; celery; ..within 20mins a mad race to the WR…terrible diarrhea!

    so what is this fantastic plant diet that is reversing so many diseases?

    1. Hi Justin: Thanks for visiting our site! I think our intro videos would be a great place for you to start. You can find them here. Dr. Greger recommends a whole-food, plant-based diet – this is a diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans/lentils, nuts, and seeds. He does not recommend eating eggs, goat’s milk, fish, chicken, or beef. You can check out Dr. G’s Daily Dozen for a list of recommended foods. You might also find the Forks Over Knives documentary helpful.

  14. What kind of rice did Kempner use, white rice? Did he mention this somewhere? Is there anywhere an exact protocol of what the people got to eat and how much and how it was prepared? How much can we trust this study?

  15. Hi Jasmin,

    I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thank you so much for your question.

    Kempner typically had used white rice, I believe, but his protocol says that any rice can be used, so long as no salt or fat is added. The overall diet was to be less than 5 grams of fat and approximately 20 grams of protein. There was to be no salt added to the diet. About 250-300 grams of rice (dry weight) is boiled or steamed in water. Sugar could be consumed in as much quantity as was desired, typically around 100 grams a day. The rest of the diet was fruit. No dates and only 1 banana a day was advised. You can read the protocol here:

    Kempner kept very detailed records of his patient “data”. While the diet was very successful at the time, it is important to keep in mind that during this time in medical history, individuals with bad hypertension would have a life expectancy of 6 months, whereas today, blood pressure medications are important and effective for keeping blood pressures at bay.

    This diet, however, has not been tested rigorously (Dr. Kempner did not have a control group), and anybody considering any diet like this needs close medical supervision.

    I hope this helps answer your questions!

  16. Hi, I am from Bangladesh and we live on rice. I mean we literally have to eat rice twice a day. Its a food culture we grew up with.
    My father is a diabetic patient and also he is a stroke survivor and paralyzed on the left side.
    I modified his diet and he is strictly following rice and fruits just like kempner rice diet. I don’t follow GI food list just anything we have I add them in vegetable mix.
    But his diabetes is not getting any better. Any guideline is much appreciated.

    1. I’m glad your father has you on his side in trying to improve his nutrition. I understand you have much rice in your traditional diet but focusing more on a total whole food plant based diet has shown benefits for both diabetes AND cardiovascular disease. IF the only rice your father is consuming is white, perhaps consider substituting at least some of it for brown rice and then focusing on the legumes, leafy greens ,cruciferous veggies that Dr. Greger recommends as part of the Daily Dozen. Please review these videos and I think you’ll see ways you can add some whole wholesome foods that have a better history of improving diabetes.

      Best of health to both him and you.

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