Liquid diets like those favoured by Shane Warne can strain heart, say experts

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In 2019, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Warne had purchased two boxes of tea from the practice of a business called Traditional Chinese Medicine Australia. TCMA became famous for its Wellbeing 101 diet, which according to court documents replaced all meals with a Chinese herbal concoction for up to four weeks.

Devotees include former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and former ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft.

Shane Warne in 2013.

Shane Warne in 2013.Credit:Getty

Warne’s representative declined to comment on the story at the time and, on Sunday, Warne’s manager did not return calls. TCMA clinics in Bondi and Chatswood said Warne was not a client, while the TCMA clinic in Prahran declined to comment, citing patient confidentiality.

In 2018, TCMA’s then-sole-director Dr Shuquan Liu had his medical licence suspended after a patient on one of his wellness programs had a “cardiac event” and died. The patient, who was not named, was undertaking the 101 Wellbeing Program under Dr Liu’s supervision.

On admission to hospital, she was found to have a potassium deficiency, irregular heartbeat and stroke. The patient had a preexisting heart condition and high blood pressure.

There is no evidence that Warne was a patient of Dr Liu or was being supervised by him and The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald do not suggest otherwise.

Dr Liu’s name is no longer listed on TCMA’s website. He remains registered as a health professional and his licence has a long list of conditions attached, including a ban on prescribing “101 Wellbeing” or any very low calorie diet.

In the 1970s, a very low calorie liquid diet promoted by osteopath Robert Linn became a sensation among American celebrities and the public. American health authorities would later link the diet to the death of 17 healthy people — all whom suffered heart rhythm disruptions.

Modern very low calorie diets are designed to offer enough nutrition to avoid this risk.

In 2018, British scientists published a study using MRI to look at the hearts of 21 obese volunteers who were on very-low-calorie diets for eight weeks. While blood pressure and cholesterol fell and insulin resistance improved, heart fat content spiked by 44 per cent in the first week of the diet.

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The hearts of the volunteers deteriorated, the study found, and were less well able to pump blood. This is likely because fat released from other parts of the body was taken up by the heart, the study’s authors argued. Over the remaining seven weeks, heart function gradually improved.

“If you have heart problems, you need to check with your doctor before embarking on a very low calorie diet or fasting,” said Dr Jennifer Rayner, the University of Oxford scientist who led the study.

“People with a cardiac problem could well experience more symptoms at this early time point, so the diet should be supervised.”

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