Eric Berg (c. 1972–) is an American quack, antivaxxer, chiropractor, cholesterol denialist, conspiracy theorist, scientologist and ketogenic diet advocate. Berg promotes pseudoscientific health advice and quackery. Berg is not a medical doctor. Berg practiced chiropractic for 29 years and is now a full-time YouTube blogger who has made thousands of videos offering health advice. Berg has over 10 million subscribers and claims to have made over 5000 videos.
Berg operates the Health and Wellness Center in Alexandria, Virginia. He describes himself as "one of the top ketogenic diet experts in the world". Berg makes many errors in his nutrition videos but does not correct his mistakes. In 2021, he confused dietary cholesterol with serum cholesterol.
Dubious health advice
Berg is not a dietitian or physician. He obtained a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree in 1998 at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport. Eric Berg advertises himself as "Dr" and received much criticism for this. He now adds a disclaimer to all of his videos stating "Dr. Eric Berg received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1988. His use of “doctor” or “Dr.” in relation to himself solely refers to that degree."
On his website. Berg has put a Quack Miranda Warning part of which reads "Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only, it is not meant to substitute medical advice provided by your physician or any other medical professional." Berg put a similar disclaimer on his videos claiming he is not offering medical advice, cure or treatment and his videos are for "general informational purposes only". However, Berg's articles and videos tell people not to eat certain foods otherwise they will become ill and that a ketogenic diet can improve "health conditions like heart disease, epilepsy or diabetes." He makes videos with titles such as "Always Fast During an Infection", "How to Prevent Blood Clots, Strokes & Heart Attacks? - Tips by Dr. Berg" and "The Best 3 Remedies for Psoriasis", so he does offer medical advice.
Berg is an anti-vaccinationist and claims there are many toxins in vaccines. He also says there is "strong evidence" that vaccines are linked to autism. This belief, found amongst conspiracy theorists, is false. There is no link between vaccines and autism.
Berg claims for maximum health, one should put their body into a permanent state of ketosis by eating a ketogenic diet which is extremely high in fat. Berg calls his keto program "Healthy Ketosis". On this diet 70% is fat and 20% is protein. This is totally unbalanced:
- People should eat a diet of full-fat organic dairy, wild-caught, grass fed, pasture-raised meat, fish, fowl, eggs, limited vegetables with no grains or sugar. Berg recommends that people eat grass fed beef, butter and steaks.
- All fruits should be avoided (except avocados, blackberries and raspberries)
- All starchy foods and grains should be avoided.
- Daily intermittent fasting. The overall goal is to eat one meal a day (although Berg does not practice this himself).
- Eat 4-5 eggs a day. Berg's advice is in opposition to health authorities who recommend one egg a day for healthy individuals and no more than 3 or 4 a week for those with high blood cholesterol, diabetes or heart disease. Moderate egg consumption (up to one a day) does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals. Berg's advice for all people to eat 4-5 eggs a day is misleading, and potentially dangerous for those with diabetes or heart disease.
- Berg says that a ketogenic diet can improve exercise performance. As of 2020 there is no reliable evidence for this claim. A recent systematic review found that a ketogenic diet does not have a positive or negative impact on physical performance compared with mixed macronutrient diets.
- Berg claims that a ketogenic diet can reduce cancer risk down to 0% but fails to back this up with any reliable studies. As of 2023 there is no clinical evidence that a ketogenic diet is effective to treat cancer and the available evidence we do have about prevention shows contrary to Berg that ketogenic diets increase cancer risk.
Other health claims
- Berg claims that peanuts are carcinogenic because of their possible aflatoxin content. Whilst it is true that peanuts may become contaminated with aflatoxins this is less likely in the United States because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration frequently test foods that may contain aflatoxins, such as peanuts and peanut butter. As of 2021 no outbreak of human disease caused by aflatoxins has been reported in the United States but Berg does not mention this. Berg admits he eats peanut butter on a regular basis and in his video holds up a jar of "Valencia Peanut Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds". However, in other videos such as "6 Things Men Should Not Eat", Berg has denounced flaxseed as a dangerous phytoestrogen which he says shuts down testosterone and causes erectile dysfunction, "man boobs" and obesity. As with most of his videos he provides no scientific studies to back up his claims and his nutritional advice contradicts itself in different videos.
- In 2013, Berg attacked non-fermented soy products as a hazard to health but promoted the consumption of fermented soy such as tempeh and miso as acceptable foods. He made the incorrect claim that the Chinese population consume fermented soy products in tiny amounts compared to Americans. In reality, the consumption of soy is ten to fifteen times higher in the Chinese population compared to the West. From 2021, Berg has jumped on the anti-soy bandwagon, claiming that all soy products should be avoided. He says that men should avoid soy because it raises estrogen levels, reduces testosterone production and makes men feminine. Berg fails to provide any evidence for his claims and does not mention the positive health effects of soy consumption such as reducing risk of cancers and coronary heart disease.
Berg argues against the medical consensus by denying that high blood LDL cholesterol levels and consumption of saturated fat increase the risk of heart disease. He says that the ketogenic diet decreases total blood cholesterol levels, decreases LDL ("bad cholesterol"), decreases triglycerides and increases HDL ("good" cholesterol) levels. Berg does not cite any long-term studies to back up his claims. A 2013 meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials found that "Individuals assigned to a very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet achieved greater long-term reductions in body weight, triacylglycerol and diastolic blood pressure and greater increases in LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels than those assigned to a low fat diet." Therefore, Berg's claim that LDL-C levels decrease on a long-term ketogenic diet have no basis in fact.
Berg cherry-picks evidence that confirms his bias and ignores results from studies that contradicts his claims. He does not cite recent systematic reviews as references which is the way evidence-based medicine works. Berg cites only one scientific paper from the journal Nutrients, published by MDPI. The paper reported that randomized trials have shown that a ketogenic diet can decrease HDL and triglyceride levels but in opposite to Berg's claim most of the trials revealed an increase in LDL cholesterol levels and one study found no significant difference. Only one small sample study (66 obese patients) revealed a decrease in total blood cholesterol levels and reductions in LDL. There are no long-term studies that demonstrate patients on a high-fat ketogenic diet can decrease their LDL-C levels.
A 2019 review by the National Lipid Association Nutrition and Lifestyle Task Force concluded that although ketogenic diets may improve appetite control and triglyceride reduction they are not superior to other dietary approaches for weight loss, are difficult to maintain in the long term and have negative side effects. The review noted that studies have shown mixed effects on LDL-C levels, with some studies showing an increase due to the saturated fat content. Contrary to Berg, the review stated that very-low-carbohydrate diets are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality. Recent studies have found that ketogenic diets significantly raise LDL-C levels.
Confusing dietary cholesterol with serum cholesterol
In Berg's 2021 YouTube video "Dr. Berg's Wife Has Crazy High Cholesterol of 261" which has 1.6 million views he wrote on his whiteboard that the new dietary guidelines from the American Heart Association have stated that total (serum) cholesterol is "not significantly associated with heart disease". He said this is a brand new finding from the AHA. However, this was an embarrassing error as the AHA advisory paper that he linked to was on dietary cholesterol, not serum cholesterol. According to the paper, "This advisory was developed after a review of human studies on the relationship of dietary cholesterol with blood lipids, lipoproteins, and cardiovascular disease risk to address questions about the relevance of dietary cholesterol guidance for heart health. Evidence from observational studies conducted in several countries generally does not indicate a significant association with cardiovascular disease risk." Berg had confused dietary cholesterol with serum cholesterol. As of April 2023, Berg has not removed the mistake from his video which is misleading people with false information.
In May, 2021 Berg's son Ian Rafalko revealed that Eric is a scientologist with a rank of OT 8 and that he has a donated millions to scientology:
Some of you might know this guy. He has a few thousand videos on YouTube. He’s pretty popular at this point. He gives a lot of health advice. He’s a chiropractor, as you can see, so…
Not only is this man a Scientologist but he donates copious amounts. His profit margins are insane, they’re through the roof. So he’s donated probably around 7 plus million dollars to Scientology?
And every product of his that you buy, you donate to Scientology as well, because he has a separate savings account just for that.
He’s an incredibly selfish and void-of-empathy human being. And the reason I know is because he’s my fucking father. — Ian Rafalko
Some former patients have described Berg as a scammer for utilizing deceptive advertising tactics. In 2008, Berg was reprimanded and fined $1,500 for promoting bogus chiropractic muscle test techniques. He was ordered to stop using and promoting Body Response Technique (BRT), Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET), Contact Reflex Analysis (CRA), and testing with an Acoustic Cardiograph (ACG).
Public health scientist Sheila Kealey has commented:
Some of his diet advice is extremely and unnecessarily restrictive (anti-wheat; anti-carbohydrate); he advocates weight loss based on a bogus hormone body type (adrenal, ovary, liver, thyroid); talks about “fat burning” hormones (they don’t exist); and includes a "detox phase" in his diet plan (a term that should raise your quack alarm).
As typical with many of these so-called health experts, his website includes a shop with unproven supplements (e.g. adrenal body type package, estrogen balance kit) that beyond being a complete waste of money, could quite possibly do you more harm than good.
- About Eric Berg Amazon (archived from 26 Oct 2020 02:59:06 UTC).
- Nutrition & Health “Experts” You Shouldn’t Trust. Sheila Kealey.
- Disciplinary Action against Eric Berg, D.C. Quackwatch.
- Dr. Berg's Bio
- "Low Carb Denver 2020 Interviews - Dr. Jodi Croft and Dr. Eric Berg", YouTube. 2020.
- According to Berg's homepage, as of 2022-02-01.
- Dr. Eric Berg gets fact-checked by MD PhD doctor
- Keto and Heart Disease – Dr.Berg Answers Does Ketogenic Diet Increase or Decrease Heart Health?", YouTube. 2017.
- "Always Fast During an Infection", YouTube. 2020.
- "How to Prevent Blood Clots, Strokes & Heart Attacks? – Tips by Dr.Berg", YouTube. 2018.
- "Psoriasis Treatment – The Best 3 Remedies for Psoriasis – Dr.Berg", YouTube. 2020.
- Lower Your Cancer Risk Down to ZERO
- Römer M, Dörfler J, Huebner J. (2021). "The use of ketogenic diets in cancer patients: a systematic review". Clin Exp Med 21 (4): 501–536. doi:10.1007/s10238-021-00710-2. PMC 8505380. PMID 33813635.
- Plant-Based and Ketogenic Diets As Diverging Paths to Address Cancer: A Review
- 6 Things Men Should Not Eat
- The Myths Of Soy As A Health Food – Dr.Berg
- A review on plant-based proteins from soybean: Health benefits and soy product development
- Soy, Soy Isoflavones, and Protein Intake in Relation to Mortality from All Causes, Cancers, and Cardiovascular Diseases: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies
- Intake of Soy, Soy Isoflavones and Soy Protein and Risk of Cancer Incidence and Mortality
- The associations of soya intakes with non-communicable diseases: a scoping review of meta-analyses
- Association between consumption of soy and risk of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis of observational studies
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23651522/ Online in full
- A Ketogenic Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet Increases LDL Cholesterol in Healthy, Young, Normal-Weight Women: A Randomized Controlled Feeding Trial
- Profound Elevation in LDL Cholesterol Level Following a Ketogenic Diet: A Case Series
- Dr. Berg's Wife Has Crazy High Cholesterol of 261..
- Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association
- Scientology chiropractor Eric Berg called out by son in viral TikTok video
- Dr. Eric Berg. dirtyscam.com
- Dr. Eric Berg a Scammer? Read This Before Visiting The Health and Wellness Center in Alexandria, VA