Reversing Diabetic Blindness with Diet

Image Credit: Community Eye Health / Flickr. This image has been modified.

Reversing Diabetic Blindness with Diet

Though many reported feeling better on Dr. Walter Kempner’s rice and fruit diet, he refused to accept such anecdotal evidence as proof of success. He wanted objective measurements. The most famous were his “eyegrounds photographs,” taken with a special camera that allowed one to visualize the back of the eye. In doing so, he proved diet can arrest the bleeding, oozing, and swelling you see in the back of the eye in people with severe kidney, hypertensive, or heart disease. Even more than that, he proved that diet could actually reverse it, something never thought possible.

In my video, Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Reversed?, you can see before and after images of the back of patients’ eyes. He found reversal to such a degree that even those who could no longer distinguish large objects were able to once again read fine print. Dr. Kempner had shown a reversal of blindness with diet.

The results were so dramatic that the head of the department of ophthalmology at Duke, where Kempner worked, was questioned as to whether they were somehow faked. He assured them they were not. In fact, he wrote in one person’s chart, “This patient’s eyegrounds are improved to an unbelievable degree.” Not only had he never seen anything like it, he couldn’t remember ever seeing a patient with such advanced disease even being alive 15 months later.

The magnitude of the improvements Kempner got—reversal of end-stage heart and kidney failure—was surprising, simply beyond belief. But as Kempner said as his closing sentence of a presentation before the American College of Physicians, “The important result is not that the change in the course of the disease has been achieved by the rice diet but that the course of the disease can be changed.”

Now that we have high blood pressure drugs, we see less hypertensive retinopathy, but we still see a lot of diabetic retinopathy, now the leading cause of blindness in American adults. Even with intensive diabetes treatment—at least three insulin injections a day with the best modern technology has to offer—the best we can offer is usually just a slowing of the progression of the disease.

So, in the 21st century, we slow down your blindness. Yet a half century ago, Kempner proved we could reverse it. Kempner started out using his plant-based rice diet ultra-low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and protein to reverse kidney and heart failure; he actually assumed the diet would make diabetes worse. He expected a 90% carbohydrate diet would increase insulin requirements; however, the opposite proved to be true. He took the next 100 patients with diabetes who walked through his door who went on the rice diet for at least three months and found their fasting blood sugars dropped despite a drop in the insulin they were taking. What really blew people away was this: Forty-four of the patients had diabetic retinopathy, and, in 30% of the cases, their eyes improved. That’s not supposed to happen; diabetic retinopathy had been considered “a sign of irreversible destruction.” What does this change mean in real life? Patients went from unable to even read headlines to normal vision.

The remarkable success Dr. Kempner had reversing some of the most dreaded complications of diabetes with his rice and fruit diet was not because of weight loss. The improvements occurred even in those patients who did not lose significant weight; so, it must have been something specific about the diet. Maybe it was his total elimination of animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol? Or perhaps it was his radical reduction in sodium, fat, and protein in general? We don’t know.

How do we treat diabetic retinopathy these days? With steroids and other drugs injected straight into the eyeball. If that doesn’t work, there’s always pan-retinal laser photocoagulation, in which laser burns are etched over nearly the entire retina. Surgeons literally burn out the back of your eye. Why would they do that? The theory is that by killing off most of the retina, the little pieces you leave behind may get more blood flow.

When I see that, along with Kempner’s work, I can’t help but feel like history has been reversed. It seems as though it should have gone like, “Can you believe 50 years ago the best we had was this barbaric, burn-out-your-socket surgery? Thank goodness we’ve since learned that through dietary means alone, we can reverse the blindness.” But instead of learning, medicine seems to have forgotten.

I documented the extraordinary Kempner story previously in Kempner Rice Diet: Whipping Us Into Shape and Drugs and the Demise of the Rice Diet. The reason I keep coming back to this is not to suggest people should go on such a diet (it is too extreme and potentially dangerous to do without strict medical supervision), but to show the power of dietary change to yield tremendous healing effects.

The best way to prevent diabetic blindness is to prevent or reverse diabetes in the first place. See, for example:

Why wouldn’t a diet of white rice make diabetes worse? See If White Rice Is Linked to Diabetes, What About China?

For more on the nitty gritty on what is the actual cause of type 2 diabetes, 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:

Discuss

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.


87 responses to “Reversing Diabetic Blindness with Diet

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  1. Did Dr Kempner ever do any work on cancer ? I’m vegetarian going on 10 yrs. (i’m 70)
    read much on heart help, diabetes, weight, etc. Seems like never on cancer cures. Guess that SOB just too tough to knock out.




    4
    1. Hi Mike – Dean Ornish, M.D. has done work of the nature you are asking about. And Dr. G has done a video on it as regards prostate cancer. Ornish took men who had rising psa levels and a prostate cancer diagnoses but with a situation that suggested a “watchful waiting” approach. The cancer was there and typically progressed but was not at a stage to take an active treatment approach. Ornish put these men on a WFPB diet (and perhaps other lifestyle changes, I’m not sure). The approach yielded reduction in psa levels and stoppage or reversal of the cancer. Further information and implications on cancer reversal can be found in T. Colin Campbell’s book “The China Study”. If you haven’t read it you may find it very interesting. Google Ornish’s work for more info as well. Ornish also has a clinic in California and his Reverse Heart Disease program is paid for by Medicare and other health insurance programs. So go to his site for more information. Good luck and have fun!




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    2. I trained with Dr Kempner 1964-7 when on house staff at Duke. You say the rice diet is dangerous but any good internist can manage it. It is not easy but neither is being blind. What evidence do you have that the other recommendations you give have ever reversed this degree of retinopathy. Surely with a try in my opininon but it is not easy. Happy to help with such patients. I currently use the low Na DASH and monitor by checking urine Na/K. Dr Kempner taught me patient’s lie but the urine does not! Would like to send your more info. I really enjoy the way you put thinks together.




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    3. What was not mentioned was that most of Kempner early patient’s had been sent to him with full blown malignant hypertension which usually lead to death in less that s year at that time and still does if not treated. You might want to read Fat Like Me for more details.




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    4. The Prevention of blindness has always been the goal of the Lions club international. Because of its role in causing blindness we have taken on diabetes prevention.

      I have shared this link with our local club members and would like to see the Lions club champion healthy eating as a form of prevention.

      Sincerely,

      Joe Mollica – Glenwood Springs, Colorado.




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  2. I am wondering if today’s article was chosen to follow the articles on arsenic in rice on purpose? I also wonder what the Rice Clinic that is continuing Dr. Kempner’s work is doing with the information about arsenic in rice?




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      1. Let’s not forget there can be other contaminants in rice e.g. cadmium, lead, etc., and these have been found in rice from other countries including India and China at a level high enough to be worrisome. Cooking it like pasta removes a lot of the nutrients, which would make the diet less healthful.

        I’m going to stick with lower arsenic California rice!




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        1. Any one know arsenic level of 1943-50 rice?

          May your pressure be low!

          CE Grim MS, MD Specializing in Difficult Hypertension

          Available for video consult at




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        2. Seems like one can measure blood or urine arsenic and see. Maybe arsenic was the magic componponent

          May your pressure be low!

          CE Grim MS, MD Specializing in Difficult Hypertension

          Available for video consult at




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        3. I think you are not right, because there is a “dish” called rice congee by the TCM. You put rice in cold water (1 : 10) in a big pot with a cap and cock it for 4 – 5 hours! This congee can be digested by nearly all sick people, even on the step to death. This congee can be cocked, as the same method, from other grains. Because the TCM is much older then any modern medicine I believe there is more true in then we want to believe… ;-)




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    1. What in the world?! ‘Don’t eat rice’, ‘don’t eat rice’, ‘don’t eat rice’…..but eat rice to reverse diabetic retinopathy? So the upshot is the vision got better but the patient died of cancer due to arsenic?




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      1. Don’t get lost in the irreconcilables? This is RESEARCH…not necessarily recommendations.

        You wouldn’t want to start on a full rice diet without supervision and testing?

        I’m personally interested in actionable stuff…but you need to keep some perspective?




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      2. I hear your frustration. As a nurse working as a moderator on this site I’m aware that the issue of arsenic in rice has raised many eyebrows. As another calm soul has advised, let’s put this perspective. recognizing nutrition IS complex and can seem to have contradictory results at time beneficial for one organ system, but not so positive on others. Focusing on the upshot as you said might be best–the occasionally confusing complex results of research that points to further research down the line ?




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    2. Hey Marvin, thanks for writing. I imagine Dr. G chose to write the recent article because he was done for now with the series on arsenic. He’s a very busy guy, so hearing back from him on questions is often somewhat delayed. I hope you’re okay with my answer instead.

      The work of Dr. Kempner continues at the Rice House in N.C. and is listed here: http://www.ricehouse.org/. We are not privy to what they may or may not be doing with the info on arsenic in rice. My guess is that they would tell you that the people who are treated with the Rice Diet have very serious forms of hypertension and other health problems that make it worth the short-term risk of higher AS exposure, since they would probably not be continuing on such a diet for their entire lives.




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  3. But 10 years later all patients died from severe Arsenic exposure.

    Hey…at least they were able to read the last will and testament they had to sign…right???




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  4. Yes I also would like to know the fate of the people on the kempner rice,did they died early from arsenic poisoning.
    also how about the the one billion plus people in china and india who consume white rice every day???????????




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      1. I agree 100%. 1.25 billion people eat rice in India and hardly any arsenic poisoning there. In fact India’s population has grown from 1 billion in 1999 to 1.25 billion in 2016.

        Any food in USA is poison not just brown rice.




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        1. Murty Hotha,

          “Any food in USA is poison not just brown rice.”

          I have had the pleasure of living and working in India, and I am here to tell you that it is one of the most filthy, dirty, unhygienic, and polluted countries in the world. And Indian life expectancy is way below that of the USA.




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          1. We are talking about food adulteration with dangerous chemicals and pesticides. Not hygiene. Don’t get mixed up. The chemicals and preservatives loaded in the food are much more dangerous than filth in the streets. Human body knows how to deal with filth but not chemicals made by Monsanto and Bayer.

            Population of US is 4.6 of the World’s and they consume 74% of the drugs produced on the Earth.

            Great you visisted and lived India, but you thinking is not straight. Don’t mix facts and analyze.




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        2. #Murty Hotha

          Why focus people always only on one smal point and refuse the other? Please read Dr. Gregers articles about Arsenic and rice again, the solution (more or less) are mentioned in some passing and of course other articles not directly connected with rice.
          For example, that the absorbtion of arsenic is increasing by eating fat – in Asia people use (traditionell) meat and additional fad more for flavoring. Do you think a 400 g steak in America is enough flavor for some rice? Then, maybe, it would be intresting to compare the size of each meal. I don’t know personal people from India but I know personal People from Eritrea and if I would eat this size of food I would starve every day. Also the average amount of vegtables may plays a role and don’t forget the among of, for example, curcuma and other spices. Maybe there is also a big different between the cultivation method and as I know the have much more different sorts of rice…
          In addition, I still believe there is no McDoof KFKickeriki on the countrysite, means people are eathing less junk food at all.
          Could the solution be in this thoughts? I think Y E S.




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          1. The way rice is produced with pesticides and stored for long shelf life with addition of insecticides is the reason. Rice in its pure form is sustainable food, contaminated chemicals for commercial reason rice gets the blame.




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    1. I’ve eaten cheap rice over quite a few years of my life and lived to tell about it. During school years I ate mostly rice with a can of condensed soup thrown in…some mac and cheese…some spaghetti mix….period. Go figure. Probably paid for it though.

      I have camped in remote places for months and years at a time and the same kinds of food allowed me to stay out for long periods.

      I liked to save $ and had not too much interest in food. Can’t say that now though.




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    2. Hey T, thanks for writing. I imagine that the folks on Dr. Kempner’s diet enjoy the same anonymity (i.e., privacy of medical information) that we are all supposed to enjoy. In any case, death from arsenic poisoning is not something that is high on the list of common reasons for dying.

      The billion people in China who eat rice each day are very likely growing it in conditions different from that we see in the U.S., possibly because they put such a high value on what they consider a ‘staple’ crop. In the U.S. we have the freedom to choose from many kinds of starches, so perhaps we don’t place the same high standards on growing our rice as the Chinese do (?)




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  5. On a related topic, I’m curious as to what the latest science says about reversing another eye problem: Cataracts. Dr G has a helpful video several years ago on preventing cataracts:

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/preventing-cataracts-with-diet/

    But how about reversing already formed cataracts? There was some research a couple of years ago on using lanosterol to reverse cataracts, but I can’t find much new on the subject. Here’s a link to one of the older articles:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v523/n7562/full/nature14650.html

    I’m already on a Whole Plant Food diet with no added Sugar, Oil, Salt. Does Dr G or any knowledgeable person know which foods may contain substantial amounts of lanosterol? Any help in this area would be appreciated. Thanks.




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    1. You should check out
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanosterol

      where it says under Clinical Significance:
      “Clinical significance[edit]
      Preliminary studies in dogs and rabbits have shown that lanosterol can prevent and even reverse cataract formation.[2][3] However, an attempt to replicate these results in age-related cataractous human lens nuclei removed during manual small incision cataract surgery by immersing them in lanosterol solution and incubating them for 6 days according to the method of Zhao et al.,[2] failed to reverse nuclear opacity.[4”




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      1. Thanks David. I did read that, but I was hoping there were some more extensive research studies on lanosterols and other dietary methods of reversing cataracts. It appears that untreated cataracts are a major cause of blindness in the elderly (probably caused by poor nutrition over the years before NutritionFacts.org was born :-) It seems the only treatment one hears about is surgery or some pharmaceutical drug to delay it.




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        1. I’m in that boat – 70 yrs old with cataracts, even though I’ve protected my eyes from UV for many decades (but did do some unwise sun bathing in my youth) and have been some form of vegetarian since college, now vegan for 2+ years. My opthalmalogist claims they will only get larger, but for the past year they have not progressed, which I optimistically attribute to my WFPB diet. I’m still hoping they’ll shrink over time. Who knows. Cheers!




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            1. I’m currently using carnosine eye drops…though I don’t appreciate the price. Will likely make my own 1% carnosine solution in distilled water…kept refrigerated. Recently had an eye exam where the beginnings of a cataract was found in one eye.

              Carnosine eye drops can reverse early stage cataracts.

              https://www.amazon.com/Life-Extension-Bright-Eyes-tubes/dp/B000PBZ5TA/ref=sr_1_3_a_it

              http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2006/5/report_vision/Page-02

              Multiple studies suggest that eye drops containing carnosine may help in the prevention and management of cataracts. In one 24-month, placebo-controlled study, an acetylated type of carnosine—N-acetylcarnosine—was used in eye-drop form in 49 patients with cataracts.22 Cataract patients who received carnosine eye drops twice daily demonstrated significantly improved vision compared to those receiving placebo eye drops. In addition, topographical studies of the patients’ eyes revealed that people using the carnosine eye drops had fewer areas of lens clouding from cataract formation. The eye drops were well tolerated, and there were no reports of adverse ocular or systemic side effects. The researchers concluded, “topical [carnosine] shows potential for the treatment and prevention of cataracts.”




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              1. I am not going to put anything in my eyes to prevent cataract as it is a natural occurrence. You may do more harm to your eyes by putting eyedrops to prevent it.

                Now it is said that if you have a healthy lifestyle then you reduce the chance of having cataract when you get old, or sometimes at younger age too. But if you do get it then it is a simple procedure to put a new lens in your eye(s) and in some case, it restores your vision to 20/20 (almost like a permanent contact lens). But you don’t use eyedrop to dissolve cataract.




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              2. Be certain you boil water sterile can it. Would use distilled water.

                May your pressure be low!

                CE Grim MS, MD Specializing in Difficult Hypertension

                Available for video consult at




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    2. Thanks for your comment.

      I did not find any recent research specific to this topic. However, I did find a recent review on the beneficial role of lutein and zeaxanthin in cataracts (see here). Note that eggs are not the richest sources of both these nutrients.

      Hope this answer helps.




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    3. It should be distinguished between cataract and retinopathy. Cataract is a natural occurrence due to the eyes protecting itself and becoming cloudy and it has nothing to do with health or nutrition. Whereas retinopathy is a disease that is preventable through nutrition. You cannot eat to prevent cataract and most people will get it when they get old. So don’t panic if you get it when you get old and think that you have done something wrong.




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    4. Nutrition(Facts) theory on aged cataract having anything to do with nutrition is unscientific. Cataract will happen to 80% of elderly, healthy and not healthy. It will cause people to have guilt feeling if they get it, as well as avoiding minor surgery (to replace the lens) when it is necessary.




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    5. WFPB-Hal. Lanosterol is a precursor of cholesterol, therefore found only in animal products. That it would help cataracts is strange given that the rate of cataract formation is much lower in vegans.
      I may be wrong, but I think the researchers tried using it in people on statins. Statins downregulate production of it in the human body. This, they thought, contributed to damage in epithelial cells in the eye which need it.




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  6. What grain would be a good substitute for the rice if one wanted to try the original rice diet? Could the same results be obtained with a different grain? Can Dr. Greger offer any suggestions?




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      1. While oat groats might taste similar , they are much higher in protein and fat than rice , one would have to be very cautious using oats to duplicate Dr Kempner experiments . They should not be able to do the same as rice. There is no substitute for rice .




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        1. Dr Kempner experiment is old stuff because rice is full of sugar and does not have all the nutrition and it’s only a staple or add on. You better eat a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables and bean, seed and even healthy meat and dairy if you are not vegan. That will fix diabetes and retinopathy too.




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    1. Thanks for your comment Laurie.

      It would be hard to substitute rice for another grain due to different nutritional properties and composition. But a healthy food could quinoa, although that is not exactly a cereal.

      Hope this answer helps.




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      1. What if the main secret of the Kempner rice diet is to switch peoples diet (genarally) from fried meat, a lot of oil, salt and but little vegtable and fuits simply to a plant diet with no oil, no salt but a lots of vegetables and fuits? Look, Dr. Esselstyn jun. (and others) proved reversing heart diseases by changing there diet, I can not see any big differences at the structures of the blood vessels between one body. And in my understanding some eye problems are also related to a lack of optimal supply on nutrition and nutrition will be supplayed be the blood vessels. Right?
        The attempt to heal one part of the body with this special food and a other part of the body with another is for me, personal, thinking like physicans – there is an expert for the heart, for the skin, for the eyes, for the kidneys but all this experts forget the rest of the body. ;-)




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      1. Hi Mike and thanks for your question. As Dr. Greger indicates in this video (https://nutritionfacts.org/video/kempner-rice-diet-whipping-us-into-shape/) following Dr. Kempner’s rice diet is incredibly difficult without medical supervision. Fortunately, more contemporary information that we have about a broader WFPB diet, including vegetables and other grains (including barley and millet) without added salt or oils, can be equally effective in controlling our major disease like diabetes, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. So yes, eat barley and millet or other whole grains that you enjoy in the context of your disease fighting WFPB diet.




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        1. In my 50 year experience change in eating habits is difficult.

          But as Dr. Kempner would say: I offer you your life in one hand and the salt shaker in the other. The choice is yours.




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  7. I personally am a type2 diabetic and following the WFPB diet for optimal results and starting to see lower blood glucose.

    I have a friend that has been legally blind (with guide dog) for over 20 years. His blindness got worse during laser treatments and then fully lost his sight.

    Could we ever imagine that he could reclaim even some sight from WFPB diet? I don’t want to say anything to him if his condition is a lost cause.

    Thank you.




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  8. Ken, maybe only just mention to your friend the benefits of a WFPB diet for other health issues, including your own personal experiences. If the diet improves his vision as well, that would be like icing on the cake.




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    1. In reality the most effective part was likely the very low salt content. Well really a normal salt intake for our genome. 250 mg sodium a day. About what is in a pack of McDonalds salt.

      May your pressure be low!

      CE Grim MS, MD Specializing in Difficult Hypertension

      Available for video consult at




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    1. No. It improved vision because the hemorrhage and edema in the back of the eye went away. But no one has studied it that I am aware of. Can help if you are interested.

      May your pressure be low!

      CE Grim MS, MD Specializing in Difficult Hypertension

      Available for video consult at




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  9. Thank You so very much, this great. But , please , what is with glaucoma blindness ? Can it also be reversed or stopped or slowed ? or whatever? by plant based diet , please..




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    1. I was diagnosed with glaucoma 15 years ago with an intraocular pressure of 27 in each eye. Medication brought it own to 22, then laser surgery to it to 18. It stayed at 18 until I went on a WFPB diet 4 years ago. My intraocular pressure now is consistently 12 for the last two years. My opthamologist’s response is that there is no proof that my diet change is responsible, and he does not know of any studies that support my improvement. I believe it is the diet.




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    2. I found an abstract that studied the association of fruits and vegetables on glaucoma.

      Am J Ophthalmol. 2012 Oct;154(4):635-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2012.03.048. Epub 2012 Jul 20.
      The association of consumption of fruits/vegetables with decreased risk of glaucoma among older African-American women in the study of osteoporotic fractures.

      Giaconi JA1, Yu F, Stone KL, Pedula KL, Ensrud KE, Cauley JA, Hochberg MC, Coleman AL; Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group.




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      1. Better to give us the publication of a randomized trial.

        May your pressure be low!

        CE Grim MS, MD Specializing in Difficult Hypertension

        Available for video consult at




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  10. Inspired by Dr. Kempner’s articles about this diet, I went on it for a week last month. Even in 1 week I saw some benefit with my blood pressure. I’m planning to do it for a few weeks each year. I used brown rice vs. white (i know, i know, arsenic…i usually don’t eat rice).




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  11. First of all, animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol are not the causes of diabetes, nor inflammation, nor retinopathy but it is the inflammation caused by consumption of processed foods, sugar, foods with too much Omega 6, transfat, PUFA fat. And then rice is actually not a remedy to rely on exclusively because rice is loaded with sugar and does not have protein.

    The reason that Kempner is successful is perhaps because he tried on patients that ate terribly and rice is now a miracle food because it’s better that the foods they ate previously.

    And there is no doubt that diet can reverse diabetes or retinopathy, heart disease, etc. but it is not rice, nor it is just plant foods (and assuming that you eat correctly) and animal foods are not the culprit. You need to eat foods to avoid inflammation and you can be a bad vegan as you can be a bad meat eater.




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  12. Here is the problem. When people call themselves meat eater, they will eat junk foods, processed foods, sugar and eat no fruits and vegetables. When they switch to veganism then they get rid of the junk foods and start to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and herbs, grain, bean, nut, seed, etc.. No wonder why they feel a lot better. Why don’t people eat healthy meat and seafood and healthy fat and fruits and vegetables and herbs, grain, bean, nut, seed, etc.. Then you will be at the top of your health. But don’t eat badly and then blame on a particular diet.




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    1. One of the best studied eating plans is the DASH Diet. They reported clearly that people felt better in the DASH. They were fed 3 different eating plans and all food was provided. Great series of studies. Over 600 pubs on in it PUBMED.

      May your pressure be low!

      CE Grim MS, MD Specializing in Difficult Hypertension

      Available for video consult at




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      1. Any diet other than the SAD diet is better. And don’t mix up animal food eating with SAD. Technically you can eat a SAD Vegan diet too. A balanced diet is the best. That’s what the Asians eat and I don’t know what is called but it is not just munching sweet potatoes like the myth says.




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  13. I know that this is not vegan but organ meat (liver) is the only source of real vitamin A which is needed for the eyes. Carrot and sweet potato contain Beta Carotene which has to be converted to Vitamin A very inefficiently. Google for it.

    Beta carotene is not vitamin A just like Omega 3 is not DHA.




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        1. Jerry Lewis-
          Those sources are not reliable. The first one makes the preposterous claim that 45% of adults “don’t convert any beta-carotene into vitamin A at all.”, citing as support
          http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/75/5/900.full.pdf+htmla

          I was unable to find anything in that article supporting that alarmist claim. It’s true that conversion from beta carotene (or other carotenoids) is inefficient compared to preformed vitamin A and also variable, depending on various factors – food matrix, amount of fat ingested, food preparation, and genetic variability.

          The second one says it’s a myth that “vitamin A (retinol) is toxic”. That’s an odd thing to say – hypervitaminosis A is real and can cause serious problems, e.g. brain lesions. Some preformed vitamin A is fine, but taken in excess, it is toxic.

          I was unable to find any estimate of the percent of people unable to adequately convert beta carotene to vitamin A. But it must be very small or the updated 2001 (and increased) US govt. recommendation for women to get 700 mcg RAE. and men 900 mcg RAE would not exist. That recommendation is meant to cover 97-98% of the population. Cf.
          https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/

          (By the way, that 97-98% figure does not imply 2-3% of the population are not adequate converters.)

          Looking at my typical beta-carotene and other carotenoid intake using cronometer.com, I find that my RAE intake ranges between 1000 mcg and 1800 mcg. So I have no problem getting enough retinol, assuming I am a typical converter.

          The science is not on your side.

          I would say though that it is not unreasonable for a vegan to get there vitamin A blood levels checked, at least if they are having any health issues that might be related to vitamin A levels.




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        2. To be fair, I did ask for how much you think is converted(it is still not clear to me what you think because the links appear to have different opinions on how much is converted) but I guess I would find it more convincing if I saw proof that vegans were actually vitamin A deficient(and not from a paleo site since they are as biased about veganism as vegans are about paleo low carbers). I think if it was truly such a big problem, many more vegans would know about it and take supplements or some other alternative like we (hopefully)do with B12.

          It is ultimately moot to me since I would stay vegan even if I became convinced of what you are saying. I decided to become vegan even before I knew it was healthy and considered it acceptable if it would take many years off my life. Mind you, that is for ethical/philosophical reasons(and the conscience) rather than stubbornness. That is to say that I don’t have *much* of an axe to grind here(I am sure I am biased to some degree but it is not as if my lifestyle is at stake or I have anything to fear in this) as far as health debates are concerned.




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          1. Daniel,
            From
            https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
            Conversion rates between mcg RAE and IU are as follows [7]:

            1 IU retinol = 0.3 mcg RAE
            1 IU beta-carotene from dietary supplements = 0.15 mcg RAE
            1 IU beta-carotene from food = 0.05 mcg RAE
            1 IU alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin = 0.025 mcg RAE

            The current RAE is 700 RAE (women) and 900 RAE (men), estimated to meet the requirements of 97-98% of the population (which does not mean 2-3% are not adequare converters).

            900 mcg corresponds to 18000 IU of beta carotene from food. I have had no problem exceeding that every day I’ve checked using cronometer.com. I have not been able to find an reputable article stating what percentage of people are not adequate converters, but it must be very small. Odds are with you, if you eat a reasonable WFPB diet.




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            1. I wasn’t worried. I eat lots of canned pumpkin(the stuff that is just pumpkin and or squash rather than pumpkin pie stuff). Often 800g or nearly two pounds a day. It is apparently like 124,000 IUs a day(and that is not counting the other stuff that converts to vitamin A that I eat). Mind you, I do that because it seems nutritious, I get it cheap, and I enjoy it(plain right out of the can) rather than fear of vitamin A deficiency.




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    1. You may be surprised to learn that, but natural plant pigments such as xanthophylls accumulate in the macula of the eye and they provide protection against age-related macular degeneration. Some of the plant pigments are converted into vitamin A, they are called precursors. Indeed, some people convert the carotenoids better than the others. You should have some fat with your meals, also your body has the best access to carotenids in vegetables when they are cooked, chopped, pureed, or juiced.




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      1. I am not saying that beta carotene cannot be converted to Vitamin A but it is an inefficient process, especially when you get old. While organ meat contains pure Vitamin A. I know that it is not vegan to discuss this but this is a nutrition site unless I am mistaken and it is a vegan site.

        And from an ethical point of view, organ meat is leftover food and you do honor the animals by eating everything.




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        1. How inefficiently execally? Got any percentages? I will give you the benifit of the doubt but many “health gurus”, blogs, etc exaggerate bioavailability issues and act as if the less bioavailable foods are automatically worthless and you can’t live off of them. Be very wary of these people.

          It really irritates me. It would be like plant based people saying that people who eat lots of dairy products are calcium deficient just because it is not absorbed as well as calcium from broccoli. I think most vegan or (completely)plant based people would consider milk a source of calcium but we don’t avoid it because of some misguided belief that it lacks calcium but for other things to do with health and or moral reasons.

          “And from an ethical point of view, organ meat is leftover food and you do honor the animals by eating everything.”
          No offense, but I don’t think that is a compelling ethical argument(at least not to me) and I would not use it even if I were to go back to eating animals.

          Consider a few hypotheticals…
          (These are not intended to come across as demonizing and I am not insinuating that meat eaters are the same as the killers in the hypotheticals. I am simply trying to emphasize my point with extreme examples.)

          1. You are abducted by highly intelligent aliens(10 times that of humans) but they inexplicably believe in bloody sacrifice(including humans) and you are an intended victim. They assure you that it is a great honor and you will not only be sacrificed at their best altar, but every single part of your body will be eaten and thoroughly enjoyed or used for leather and they will even make useful things out of your bones and that by your sacrifice, you will be serving those who are vastly intellectually superior and more emotionally complex(for better or worse) than you.

          Would you feel or be honored/respected by that? I suspect not. I personally would not consider that more of an honor than being killed in the middle of nowhere and my corpse to be eaten by maggots(or any other creature). It may be a silly hypothetical, but the point is that I think we honor/respect others by valuing their feelings, will, etc rather than imposing whatever we think is honorable upon them. Not that I go as far as moral relativism but I don’t see how eating someone(whether that someone is a human or some other creature) against their will respects them any more than letting them decompose and certainly not more than sparing their lives.

          Here is more of a real world example than a hypothetical about aliens. ;)
          2. There have been various killers who have used the corpses of their human victims in ways we would both(I assume) consider disturbing. Stuff like making lamp shades out of people’s skin, etc. There have certainly been many cannibalistic killers. Would you say that those victims were more honored compared to if they had not been killed or even compared to if they were killed by a gang and buried? I assume not. In fact, many would consider it to be worse compared to leaving someone’s body to rot in the woods.

          3. What about grave robbers who contributed to scientific progress(and I assume medical advancement but I am not very knowledgable about how useful that was for science, etc)? Were people honored by them?

          Why is it considered respectful to “use all of the animal”(against their consent) if it is not respectful to “use all of the man/woman”(against their consent)? Why is it honorable for animals but not for us? It could be argued that it would be anthropomorphizing animals to think that they fear being turned into leather or their corpse being eaten and I would agree. I am no mind reader but I really don’t think that animals care at all what happens to their dead body whether people build a giant beautiful memorial and “honor” the body or whether they rot. I actually still have my leather wallet and belt from before and I sometimes think about how weird it is that it is made out of skin but I do not think it honors or dihonors the animals that died nor would it if I threw it in some filthy landfill or if I were to bury it in a casket and place a pretty rock over it. As I said, I am no mind reader, but I think that animals just don’t want to die(whatever their understandng or misunderstanding of it may be, I don’t think they want it to happen and don’t want whatever slaughterhouses, etc are offering).

          This line of reasoning may seem to support “byproducts”, but unfortunately byproducts are not just given away with the intention of honoring animals but are sold for a profit that ends up supporting the animal product industries. Plus in some cases, non-organ meat may be the byproduct rather than leather or organs but I am not suggesting that is the case the majority of the time(I don’t know enough about that to talk about it).




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          1. Sorry for being long winded(I won’t blame you if you didn’t read it). :) We can just talk about either the absorption issue, ethical issue, or neither if you prefer.




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  14. So with the latest news you have been posting on arsenic in rice, I guess you would have to redo this with another grain? Would results vary or is rice the magic? If rice is magic, do you swap blindness for cancer? Geez….




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  15. Chiming in on a plant based diet for curing cancer is the world’s most successful plant base therapy which was presented to the Senate in 1946 but was shot down by pharmaceutical special interests and that is the Gerson Therapy.

    When my son was stricken with cancer he went on the Gerson Therapy after surgery to remove the tumor. His blood markers weren’t so good and Manhasset North Shore wanted to immediately put him on aggressive chemo therapy and radiation treatments. After reading the 4 pages in 6 point print of all of the effects and other cancers to deal with he decided to go with Gerson.
    Dr Sunshine’s office monitored his blood work up and slowly by surly his blood markers cam down. In nine months of Gerson therapy his blood was one of the best that have ever seen and the entire office was excided and he got a standing ovation.

    That was 8 years ago. Myself and my wife also supported him by eating and drinking that green juice for the 9 mounts. I had so much energy that when I woke up in the morning I pop out of bed with incredible vitality. It was kind of scary. I felt like a light bulb that went exceptionally bright and was waiting for the sudden lights out. But nothing liked that happened. We followed the Gerson food eating plan for 6 years. I lost 60 lbs in that first nine months and my wife lost 31 lbs. And we both never felt as good as we did on the Gerson plan.
    Today we follow a plant based food plans that includes Max Gerson, Charlott Gerson, Charles Eliot Perkins, Michel Greger, John McDougall, Neal Bernard, Jane Plant, T. Collin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyne, and Joel Fuhrman.

    However I also read books by Linis Pauling, Hoffer & Walker, Meg Wolff, Mike Anderson, Jacobos & Jacobs, Paula Wolfert, Moskawitz & Romero, Resnik & Brock, Landgrege, Linch, . Norman Walker, Howard Straus, Rip Esselstyn, Mark Hyman, Michio Kushi and women who healed themselves utilizing microbiotics, and Norman Cousins are just some of the authors of the over 200 books that I have read through over the last 8 years and – and still reading more as they come along and I find them of interest.

    Now our food basics are a great verity of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, various whole grains, for rice – only Lundburg Rice, herbs, spices, whole grain pasta, fresh whole grain bread from the bakery at Wild by Nature, soy and almond milk, no sugar, no soda or beverages containing sugar or manmade chemicals, absolutely no dairy of any kind, two ¼ lb servings of meat a month, red wine, no supplements of any kind, and none of us require any medication of any kind or over that counter drugs. So far so good.




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  16. I got my Gerson lead from 3 surgeons in Manhasset North Shore Hospital and 1 surgeon in Winthrop Hospital. The advice I got was that if the tumor is operable and of the correct type (least amount of possible complications after removal), remove it.

    My basic advice is – Do not eat Corporate Food – Eat food provided by Mother Nature – Gods Food.

    The difference in treating the cause as opposed to treating the symptom is as follows:

    A well versed auto mechanic treats the cause, not the symptom.

    Case in Point – A slow leak in a tire:

    Treating the Cause:
    The mechanic puts air in the tire, submerses it in water, locates the leak and repairs it – cost = $12 (the last time that I had a tire with a slow leak).

    A well versed doctor treats the symptom, not the cause.

    Treating the Symptom:
    Doctor brings the tire up to its specified air pressure and tells you to come back when it’s low.
    You come back in 3 days. Prognoses – come back ever two days so the doctor can fill the tire to the specified air pressure. Say this tire lasts 40,000 miles. The average driver may drive 10,000 miles a year (according to most insurance companies). Life time for this tire is 4 years (1460 days). That’s 730 visits say at $100/visit, the cost of treating the symptom = $73,000.

    And that is why the medical profession is not held to the same standards as the auto repair industry.




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