TPV Podcast, Episode 235: Denise Minger and Extreme Diets

Ep. 235: Denise Minger and Extreme Diets

The Paleo View TPV 235 Denise Minger Extreme Diets

In this episode, Stacy and Sarah invite Denise Minger, author of Death By Food Pyramid, on to talk about research she did on extremely high carb, extremely low fat diets and why they seem to help heal people with serious disease, contrary to conventional paleo wisdom.

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The Paleo View (TPV), Episode 235: Denise Minger and Extreme Diets

  • Intro (0:00)
  • News and Views (0:40)
  • Question from Valerie: “first of all I’d like to thank you for what you’re doing. Your show always puts a smile on my face and I am afraid of the day I will have caught up with all past episodes and will actually have to wait a week for the next one to come out. So I was ordering my InstantPot the other day when Amazon recommend I shall buy the book “The Starch Solution” by John McDougall. I got curious about it and did some research and it seems the diet is a paleo person’s worst nightmare: Based solely on starches, whole grains, legumes, no fats allowed whatsoever, zero animal products. It promises weight loss (not hard to imagine, being on a totally bland diet), but also permanent reversal (as in healing) of diabetes and all sorts of health benefits. I also found a talk by Denise Minger (‘lessons from the vegans’, I think you might actually have mentioned it sometime) who confirms these findings. What’s puzzling me is all the reports of people doing that diet talking about improved digestion, no blood sugar spikes (!) and I also found quite a few reports from Crohn’s patients apparently being cured by it, although this is totally counter intuitive for anyone that has ever been on SCD or paleo. Can you think of any explanation for these miraculous cures?”
    • Denise posted a post about this topic here.
    • A study by Walter Kempner found that a super high sugar, super low fat diet had benefits for people with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and other conditions. He was trying to help people with kidney failure. 96% carbohydrate and mostly white sugar, about 2000 calories. What came out of this came to be known as the Rice Diet
    • Look at the end of these notes for OFFICIAL Denise Minger meme images.
    • These benefit lasted even after they returned to a normal diet.
    • Roy Swank found that people in mountains of Norway were eating a lot of land animal fats and had a relatively high incidence of multiple sclerosis while people eating mostly fish on the coast had a low incidence of MS.
    • He put people with MS on a very low saturated fat diet for decades and found a lot of success with the people who stuck the closest to his diet.
    • This doesn’t seem to jibe with what we know of MS, particularly compared with people like Terry Wahls who eat much more fat.
    • Nathan Pritikin worked on a plant-based, super low fat diet to reverse heart disease.
    • With all this very thorough research that seems contradictory to the paleo model, it seemed to Denise like she needed to revise what she believed was true.
    • Denise initially thought it was the low processed foods component with mainly whole foods focus that was the cause. But obviously the Kempner mostly refined sugar diet that doesn’t apply.
    • But it seems like these extreme diets have evidence that they can help you repair when you’re sick, but not necessarily to prevent the disease in the first place!
    • Denise found that most low fat diets call for 30% of calories from fat, while these extreme diets are under 10%.
    • The really problematic diets are the refined grain diets with that 30% or more calories from fat that have the most disease promoting properties.
    • Denise believes that this is because of the gut and how chylomicrons and endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides) work on these diets.
    • Endotoxins are linked to a lot of modern diseases and are present the most in high saturated fat diets.
    • Chylomicrons are lipoproteins in the gut that transport fat out to the rest of the body, but they will also bring endotoxins along with them.
    • To reduce endotoxins in the blood, you can either eat this super low fat diet, or you can promote a healthy gut that doesn’t produce a lot of endotoxins to begin with.
    • For diabetes, saturated fat increases the secretion of insulin. This is why a sugar diet could improve diabetes.
    • There could be a fat/carbohydrate interaction in some people that may make them more susceptible to blood sugar issues.
    • It seems that these plant based diets are so adamant about super low fat: if you even eat a moderate amount of fat, the therapeutic effect goes away!
    • Denise concludes that healthy people without these conditions shouldn’t be worried about her research because these diets are for therapeutic effect and don’t have evidence that they benefit people trying to prevent disease.
    • Endotoxin is created by the cell walls of gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria are sensitive to the fiber intake of the diet.
    • Jeff Leach of the Human Food Project studies the human gut microbiome. Read his post Going Feral: My One-Year Journey to Acquire the Healthiest Gut Microbiome in the World (You Heard Me!) to get the story of him testing his own gut microbiome and figuring out what variables helped improve it.
    • Endotoxin is highly inflammatory. It’s how we get lab rats to develop disease and it is the cause of sepsis.
    • Thanks to Denise for coming on the show on short notice! Go to for everything about her! And read her book Death by Food Pyramid!
  • Outro (43:18)


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