Dr. Walter Kempner

Dr. Walter Kempner

The Rice Diet Healthcare Program, based on the rice diet originally developed by Dr. Walter Kempner in 1939, has been shown over the course of the past 75 years to effectively treat diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, heart failure, sleep apnea, and obesity. The over-riding goal of treatment with the rice diet is to allow patients to reduce or eliminate medications because they have embraced the healthy lifestyle of eating the right amounts of the right kinds of foods and undertaking daily rounds of low-intensity exercise.

In October of 2013, John Aycoth opened the RDHP in Durham NC to continue the legacy left by Dr. Kempner. Having himself lost 138 pounds from 2000-2002, John knows well the profound benefits that accompany lifestyle change. His chief goal is to help others achieve the same enhanced health and quality of life.

The Rice Diet Healthcare Program is housed in a sparkling new 13,000-square-foot facility located minutes from downtown Durham. On-site are a dining hall, medical clinic, lecture rooms, state-of-the-art media equipment and a one-mile outdoor walking trail. Open 365 days per year, the RDHP provides patients 3 meals a day, daily medical check-in, and scheduled classes related to nutrition, self-care, and skills and rationale for adopting a new and health-giving lifestyle. Total patient wellness is our goal. Thus, all patients entering the program undergo a comprehensive medical interview along with a physical and laboratory examination, and specialist consultation as needed. Medications are adjusted or eliminated as indicated by the initial and subsequently accumulated medical information. A physician reviews all results one-to-one, confidentially with each patient. We will happily share information with your home physician at your request.

Careful physician monitoring is critical to the success of the rice diet, and so a doctor is available for urgent consultations 24-hours a day, either during regular clinic hours or by phone after hours. Medical supervision is provided by Francis A. Neelon, MD, an endocrinologist with nearly 20 years' experience using the rice diet, and by Anne Micheaux Akwari, MD, JD.

The rice diet consists of rice, grains, fruits, vegetables and beans, with an option of fish available on Saturday evenings. The diet provides 800-1000 calories a day, 5-10 percent of which derive from fat and 5-20 percent from protein. Sodium intake is extremely low on the rice diet, which contributes to the diet's success, but also mandates careful medical monitoring.

Daily exercise is critical to long-term success with lifestyle moderation, and we encourage brisk walking without becoming breathless. Resistance and strengthening exercise is not prohibited, and can be arranged at several local facilities. For most, walking on the path around the Rice House facility works very well.

If you are ready to take control of your health and life, the Rice Diet Healthcare Program is here to help. The principles of Dr. Kempner's rice diet continue to help people live healthier, more productive lives. Join us!


In 1939, severe high blood pressure ("malignant hypertension") was an invariably fatal disease. There were no known treatments until Walter Kempner demonstrated that the rice diet could lower blood pressure and reverse some or all of its damage. In the intervening years, many drugs have been developed to lower blood pressure; they do work but only with accompanying side- effects. The rice diet remains the healthiest option for controlling hypertension.

Diabetes Mellitus

Most people regard diabetes as a carbohydrate ("sugar") disorder, and suppose that patients with diabetes should avoid eating carbohydrates. To most people's surprise, patients with Type 2 Diabetes do extremely well on the rice diet because it is the total intake of energy (calories), not the kind of food, that drives the high blood sugar of diabetes. The rice diet is very helpful in Type 2 Diabetes. It can be used with Type 1 diabetes, but cannot reverse that disease.

Kidney Disease

Kidney failure and hypertension are linked, one often causing the other. Dr. Kempner knew this and so devised a diet extremely low in sodium and, if needed, in protein. By eating the rice diet many patients with kidney disease can prolong the useful function of their kidneys, and thereby avoid or delay kidney dialysis or transplantation. Those procedures can be life-saving, but it is better not to need them.


Very early in the course of treating patients with the rice diet, it became clear that this low-fat, low-sodium, largely plant-based regimen was extremely effective in helping patients lose excess weight. Few patients on the rice diet complain of excessive hunger, and the rate of weight loss rivals or surpasses that seen following bariatric surgery, while avoiding the pain, expense, and risks of such surgery.

Heart Failure

The term "heart failure" does not mean that the heart stops beating, but rather that it cannot pump blood effectively. As a result, the body retains sodium so that fluid accumulates in the lungs (causing shortness of breath) or in the legs and abdomen (causing edema or swelling). Diuretic and other drugs can help eliminate the accumulated excess of sodium (and with it, fluid), but once again there is the price of unwanted side- effects to pay. Better (and more effective) not to put sodium into the body in the first place.

Sleep Apnea

The sleep-disordered breathing known as sleep apnea (periodic pauses in breathing that lead to profound falls in blood oxygen levels) is directly linked to body weight. Individuals with sleep apnea need to and should use a night-time breathing assist device called CPAP, but loss of excess weight often improves sleep apnea and may even eliminate it.