Walter Kempner was a research scientist when he left Germany in 1934 and made his way to Duke University where he continued his research on cell metabolism. In 1940 Walter Kempner began treating patients with what was thought to be irreversible or malignant hypertension (Estes, and Kerivan, 2014, p. 600). Walter Kempner is most famously known for his rice diet which consisted of white rice, fruit, fruit juice, sugar, and little to no sodium. The diet was relatively simple, it contained no salt, no cholesterol, it was extremely low in plant-based fat, and made of almost exclusively carbohydrates. According to Skyler (1974):
A major breakthrough occurred by accident in 1942 when one of Dr. Kempner’s patients, a 33-year-old North Carolina woman with chronic glomerulonephritis (kidney disease) and papilledema (eye disease) failed to follow his instructions. Because of Dr. Kempner’s heavy German accent she misunderstood his instructions to return in two weeks, and after two months, she finally returned, with no signs of deficiency, but rather with robust health. The woman had experienced a dramatic reduction of her blood pressure, from 190/120 to 124/84 mmHg, resolution of eye damage (retinal hemorrhages and papilledema), and a noticeable decrease in heart size (p. 753).
The medical profession began to take notice of his advances in research and many were skeptical of his reversal of many chronic and what were thought to be irreversible conditions such as kidney failure, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. According to Skyler (1974), researchers and investigators from the U.S. and abroad began reproducing Kempner’s work in the 40s and 50s with the same results (p. 753). Kempner felt that placing patients in randomized controlled trials could result in their imminent demise and he refused to place patients into controlled studies. He wanted all to benefit from their own willingness to comply to the diet as there was no other diet, therapy, or medication shown to be more effective. Kempner knew those who did not comply met an early death and tried to have his patients comply with the diet. According to Klemmer, Grim and Loft (2014), “Kempner argued that the prior state was the comparator rather than a randomized control group. Of course the control group in Kempner’s day had a survival expectancy of 6 months” (p. 686-687).
According to Estes & Kerivan (2014), the benefits of the diet are overshadowed due to the advent of medications and:
The impressive effectiveness of the rice–fruit diet, which is able to quickly stop the leaky arterioles and lower increased intracranial pressure, reduce the heart size, reverse the ECG changes, reverse heart failure, reduce weight, and markedly improve diabetes (when present) in patients with accelerated hypertension is ignored! (p. 605).
Figure 2. John McDougall Newsletter (2013). Walter Kempner MD – Founder of the Rice Diet Retrieved August 23, 2016. Image of heart and kidney size decreasing.
Figure 3. John McDougall Newsletter (2013). Walter Kempner MD – Founder of the Rice Diet Retrieved August 23, 2016. Patient weightloss on a white rice, fruit, fruit juice, and sugar diet.
Figure 4. John McDougall Newsletter (2013). Walter Kempner MD – Founder of the Rice Diet Retrieved August 23, 2016. Patient weightloss on a white rice, fruit, fruit juice, and sugar diet.
Figure 6. John McDougall Newsletter (2013). Walter Kempner MD – Founder of the Rice Diet Retrieved August 23, 2016. Reversal of diabetic retinopathy on a white rice, fruit, fruit juice and sugar diet.
Figure 7. John McDougall Newsletter (2013). Walter Kempner MD – Founder of the Rice Diet Retrieved August 23, 2016. The composition of the white rice, fruit, fruit juice and sugar diet. Sugar was only added to the diet to decrease the protein load placed on the kidneys in those patients with kidney disease.
Famous Quotes from Walter Kempner
“Eat simple food simply.”
It could be inferred that Walter Kempner wanted to keep the diet simple by not having his patients add excessive, or any, amount of animal protein, fat, and salt to the diet.
Videos on the rice diet:
Rice Diet Cures Most Diseases – McDougall
To read more about Walter Kempner and his rice diet click here. https://www.drmcdougall.com/2013/12/31/walter-kempner-md-founder-of-the-rice-diet/
Robert Rosati – Director of the rice diet program – Video about the rice diet https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/videos/advanced-study-weekend-experts/robert-rosati/
Kitty Rosati, Nutrition Director of the Rice Diet Program
Frank Neelon – MD: The rice diet – Video about the rice diet https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/videos/advanced-study-weekend-experts/frank-neelon-md-the-rice-diet/
Drugs & the Demise of the Rice Diet: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/drugs-and-the-demise-of-the-rice-diet/
Kempner Rice Diet: Whipping Us into Shape https://nutritionfacts.org/video/kempner-rice-diet-whipping-us-into-shape/
Books about the rice diet
- The Rice Diet Solution
- Walter Kempner and the Rice Diet: Challenging Conventional Wisdom. Available on Amazon
- Visit the rice house healthcare program website at http://www.ricehouse.org/ to learn more about the program and what you can do to improve your overall health and well being.
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