A Dangerous Diet

I am quite busy with work and haven’t had a chance to finish a science post, but an article caught my eye with a diet that was new to me and deserves a warning: the “live diet”:

Rainbeau Mars, the actor and yoga- and holistic-health guru with “an irresistible glow,” according to her website, has requested that her guests “try out a vegan, and subsequently live food diet for 21 days” before her upcoming Kauai wedding to Hollywood business manager Michael Karlin, according to the Huffington Post. That way, Mars’s publicist explained in the piece, “everyone will look and feel their best for HER big day.”

Now, since the live diet is not the vegan diet, I suppose it must include animal foods – live animal foods.

It seems like this diet must be a version of Paleo – after all, as Robb Wolf explained, “if it has a face, it’s Paleo” – so I was surprised I hadn’t heard of it. I haven’t found much about it on the web but I think the “live diet” must resemble this excellent recipe by Daniella Martin, except without the cooking:

(Note: The taco shells are not PHD. Consider substituting rice flour based spring roll wrappers.)

Unfortunately, I have to say that based on a brief literature search, I believe the live diet, while fine for pythons, alligators, and herons, may be quite dangerous for humans, and must oppose it. This alarming case study illustrates the potential dangers:

I do wish Ms. Mars a joyful wedding day; but I must recommend that her guests avoid this risky diet.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Eddie Eriksson

    great post Paul!

  2. Paul, I’m a huge fan of yours and PHD, but I’m really disappointed in this post. First, the sensationalism from your FB post – I thought “Wow! This must be pretty important. Paul usually doesn’t play those fear mongering games.”

    Turns out you’ve just misunderstood the article you’ve linked. The woman was suggesting eating vegan (which includes cooked foods), then eating “live” as in raw, sprouted, etc. This is a subset of the vegan diet – not live animal products. Vegans and raw foodists talk about “live” foods all the time. This is nothing new and not worthy of a post. Especially not a fear mongering one.

  3. People around the world do indeed eat a lot of bugs, and it is a huge untapped reservoir of protein. Some of them are eaten raw, but unfortunately bugs have parasites such as nematodes and there is a definite danger of acquiring these unwelcome guests ourselves.

  4. Ethiopians, or as they were then known Abyssinians, in the classical period of their culture were well-known for cutting steaks from the flank of a live cow and eating them raw. The skin would be sutured back and allowed to heal (presumably they wouldn’t have done this if there was a heavy cost in cattle). The meat was eaten raw, and this raw meat, together with honey (the Other Animal Food), was a staple of their diet.

  5. Facetiousness aside, can you really use rice spring roll wrappers for tacos? That would solve a household taco deficiency problem. I was compromising by trying to cook non-GMO corn tacos in a healthy oil as a treat – better than buying regular shells – but they’re only OK and a hassle. Taco-seasoned meat hides beef liver really well!

    • You can! Word of warning, spring roll wrappers are pretty fragile. All you have to do is dip them briefly in water — put a shallow bit of water on a plate or shallow bowl and soak them for a few seconds.

      • You can use more than one spring roll wrapper at once to get more structural integrity, like some Mexican taquerias do with the small tortillas used for traditional, non-fried tacos.

  6. Paul,

    The Jaminetster gots some jokes. Love it! Had no idea it was a joke until I read the comments. Well played.

  7. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. 😯

  8. I suppose it’s actually very thoughtful of Ms. Mars to encourage her guests to “look and feel their best.” I though the classic bridezilla move was to make everyone look their worst (ala horrible bridesmaid dresses….) so she looks better by comparison! I can only imagine what delicacies will be served at the reception.

  9. Dear Paul,

    About six months ago I was very rapidly cured of colitis by taking berberine hcl swanson brand. I had suffered from bowel problems all my life that i can remember that got worse as i got older. For several years i could eat no starches or di or polysaccharides. i didnt eat any sugars as i was afraid to. i discovered from trying the specific carb diet that i could have monosaccarides and not get diarrhea and inflammation. My husband told me about the research of the chinese scientist in which he manipulated gut bacteria with probiotic foods and berberine resulting in weight loss in obese animals and people. i studied all i could find about berberine and the herbs it comes from. The chinese have used these herbs to heal diarrhea for thousands of years. i actually had berberine and had tried to take it at a dose of one 400 mg capsule per day and by day three i was so sick i had to stop. i had horrible headache and gi symptoms. i figured out that it was so powerful that i needed to start out at a third of a capsule a day and gradually increase it. In this way i gradually increased by a third of a cap a week until i was up to about a cap and a half. Within about a week i was trying starches and not having diarrhea. Paul Bergner, medical herbalist has some interesting research based info on berberine. Berberine appears to work more as a substance that normalizes ummunity in the gut by healing the gaps in the tight junction, normalizing immunoglobulin, phagocyte and other immune cells, and normalizing mucus production increasing if low decreasing if high. Google Paul Bergner to find his medherb site.

    I would be leary with using pharmaceutical antiobiotics for infections as for many of us including me they were a factor in making us sick in the first place. As a child each time i had antibiotics my health an the bowel condition got worse.

    Now six months later i eat pretty close to the perfect health diet, once in a while having pancakes made from fresh milled wheat soaked in yogurt or buttermilk for 24 hours. I feel good and have no more digestive problems. i periodically do a couple of weeks on berberine or an herb in the mucous membrane healing group which includes golden seal, barberry, oregon grape root, yerba mansa, and bidens.

    Just thought I’d share in case this helps anyone with chronic infection particularly bowel infection causing diarrhea.

    • Thank you Lisa, that’s very helpful information.

    • Thanks Lisa. I took berberine as part of a regimen to treat IBS symptoms/B. Hominis and H. Pylori infection, and it helped me also, but I hadn’t known about the junction healing effects. Very interesting and encouraging.

  10. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for your recommendations for my granddaughter’s itchy scalp. She has increased her daily egg yolks from two to three, has ordered axtanthin, is following your other recommendations and will let you know of results.

    Reading that you now use honey instead of rice syrup has me very worried. My family has consumed a lot of rice syrup in the past two years and I am concerned for my grandchildren, especially the two year olds who have been eating it since they were babies. We are fructose sensitive so don’t want to go back to honey and I don’t know anything about dextrose. We buy Wattle Grove rice syrup which is made in Australia and has no fructose. You have previously said that arsenic is only a concern in American rice. Do you think it would be safe to go on using Australian rice syrup?

    I would like to tell you of the wonderful results I have had from PHD but I can no longer get the Reader Results page. Should I just post my rather long story on comments?

    • Hi Francesca,

      I think it is safe but you may want to consider alternatives like tapioca syrup.

      In mice low doses of arsenic actually improve health and extend lifespan, so the effects of eating rice syrup are really hard to ascertain. They could be beneficial!

      I would love to hear your results. I’m puzzled that you can’t get to the Reader Results page. Does this link work? http://perfecthealthdiet.com/reader-results/#respond

      Best, Paul

  11. Paul – curious to what you recommended for Francesca’s granddaughter’s scalp and astaxanthin? Could you possibly post your reply to her here? Thanks.

  12. I consider myself an adventuresome diner, but I often have difficulty wrapping my head around the live bugs scenario. Maybe someday…


  13. I have to say, you are a brave woman 😛 , I could never do such a thing.

    Your eating bugs, is it just me … I am one for a balanced diet, well if it’s good for you anyway, and you have the stomach for this, that’s great, it’s not for me.

  14. Mabel Carnaghan

    I am a overweight 87 year old woman and am planning to follow your diet and supplements. I am, however, seriously allergic to iodine, so presume I would skip this. I would like to keep you informed of my progress, as I think this would keep me motivated.

  15. Oh wow…I could never imagine doing something like this…I know that some people in some cultures eat like this every day, but I could never! This makes me squirm!

  16. asia people like to eat bugs and some bugs can not eat so you wiil consider before you eat bugs

  17. informatieve website, zijn jullie ook op Facebook te vinden?

  18. Maoershan Voyage en Chine Diaoyu situé dans le Guangxi Zhuang Région autonome La province du Sichuan de la Chine, Guilin Ziyuan County Xing’an County et la jonction est important dans les montagnes Yuechengling Nanling, l’altitude de 2142 mètres, est le plus haut sommet dans le Guangxi. Maoer Hengyang City University shan est une réserve naturelle nationale, ainsi que “

  19. This only Bear Gryls can eat 😉

  20. As good as those tacos look (except for the worms), I think I’ll stick a more traditional form of protein.

  21. Thanks for sharing.

    I have to agree with you that eating live animals must be dangerous.

    Every year I see people on “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here” eating live insects and grubs, and I wonder what would happen if they didn’t chew properly.

    Parasites can live in the human gut, and I wonder how long these things last and what damage they might to us. 😕

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