The Carnivore diet is exploding in popularity as Dr. Shawn Baker and Mikhaila Peterson are sharing their story with only eating meat. For years, we’ve been told to eat our vegetables, but maybe we should question that advice as more and more people are reporting healing from the Carnivore diet.
It is important to point out that a meat-based diet has many advantages over a vegan or vegetarian diet. Meats provide a wonderful and bioavailable source of protein, amino acids, cholesterol, fat sodium and vital nutrients, which give your diet a healthy boost. Meat is also considered to be a complete protein. It has all the essential nutrients needed to sustain life.
The body requires protein to maintain all the processes necessary for staying healthy. Protein is considered on of the building blocks of life. Meat is one of the best sources of protein because it is very bioavailable. Your body won’t need to break down fiber with its gut microbiome to access the proteins in meat. Even small amounts of meat are densely packed with protein. For example, a 3 ounce portion of prime rib will contain about 23 grams of protein. This small serving will provide your body with half the daily recommended allowance for women, which is 46 grams per day.
Essential Amino Acids
There are nine essentials amino acids that your body needs to function properly that it can’t make itself. These are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
Protein contains amino acids. While you may be able to get protein from eating plant matter, in particular beans, they are not a complete source of protein. Meant contains all nine of the essential amino acids that your body cannot produce without supplementing from outside sources. These amino acids are the building blocks for your body’s tissues like muscles, bones and skin. Consuming meats makes getting all of these essentials amino acids easy because meats contain all the essentials amino acids in one convenient package.
Consuming a carnivore diet will help you to meet your nutrient intake. Meats are very high in several important nutrients. The B-complex vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and B-12, and thiamine are all found in meats. The B vitamins help to keep up your energy levels, contribute to proper grown and aid the digestion of iron. B-vitamins also help with chemical reactions in the body. Meats are a great source of essential minerals as well. They provide zinc, iron and selenium.
Many followers of the carnivore diet also consume dairy products, which are packed with nutrients. Cultured dairy products, such as kefir, have the wonderful probiotic benefits. They also contain the vitamins K2, CLA, vitamin A, and beta-carotene. Kefir is made by introducing kefir grains into raw milk. It is full of beneficial yeast that can help to maintain a healthy gut. Yogurt is also beneficial for the gut mircrobiome because it contains the bacteria L. Bulgaricus, which can withstand digestion and establish colonies of healthy bacteria in the intestines. This greatly improves G.I. distress and boosts the immune system.
Many people on the carnivore diet consume pastured eggs. These are a rich source of vitamin D. Studies have demonstrated that they contain three to six times more of the vitamin content than conventional eggs. Pastured chickens get exposed to direct sunlight. Therefore, they create more vitamin D and pass it on to their eggs. Vitamin D has been known to help build strong bones, improve mood and build immunity.
One of the nutrients that is abundant in the carnivore diet is Omega 3 fatty acid. By consuming wild, fatty fish, including salmon, sardines, and herring, you’ll be able to consume the necessary Omega 3 fatty acids that your body needs. Omega 3s are an essential component of a healthy diet because they are vital in maintaining healthy cells. People whose diets are high in this fatty acid are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure. Omega 3’s are known to improve brain health and symptoms of depression and hyperactivity.
Some followers of the carnivore diet choose grass-fed beef and organ meats. This is because they are known to be higher in vitamins and minerals. Grass fed beef and organ meats may reduce your exposure to hormones and antibiotics. These meats are rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin E, beta carotene, vitamin C and the Omega 3s. Grass-fed meat and dairy also provide a great source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been associated with long term weight management. CLA helps to improve the body’s composition and health by decreasing inflammation in the body.
Cholesterol and Saturated Fat
Cholesterol tends to get a bad reputation. There have been scientific studies that have correlated it with heart disease and diabetes. However, cholesterol and saturated fat play an essential role in our health. It may be time to examine the weaknesses of the studies that condemn cholesterol and saturated fat.
Cholesterol is essential for balanced hormones and the manufacturing of those hormones that deal with the stress of everyday life. These hormones also protect against cancer and heart disease. Cholesterol is needed for all the sex hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and DHEA.
The body requires cholesterol in order to properly use vitamin D, which is vital for all the body systems including the bones, nerves, mineral metabolism, muscle tone, insulin production, fertility and strong immunity.
The digestive process requires cholesterol. It is critical to the absorption of dietary fats. Cholesterol also functions as a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radical damage to the tissues. Cholesterol is also necessary for the proper functioning of the intestines and maintaining the integrity of the intestinal wall. Low cholesterol diets can lead to leaky gut syndrome and other digestive problems. Cholesterol is critical in the repair of damaged cells. A carnivore diet helps to heal leaky gut syndrome with plenty of cholesterol and protein to rebuild the intestinal walls.
The brain does not function properly without cholesterol. It is used by serotonin receptors. Serotonin is the body’s natural “feel good” chemical. Low cholesterol levels have been associated with aggressive and violent tendencies, suicide and depression. Ensuring a good intake of cholesterol will help to improve your mood.
While sodium is an essential element in the diet, there are times when it can be over consumed. A Standard American Diet often focuses heavily on process foods and meats. Salt-cured and processed meats will often contain high amounts of sodium, which can be more than the body needs. When selecting meats on the carnivore diet, it may be wise to chose uncured meat products. Skip the deli meats and packaged meats and you will find that you easily meet your sodium needs with meat.
Eliminates the Antinutrients
Many people don’t realize that vegetables contain certain anti-nutrients that can be harmful and promote inflammation and disease. For example, many people have a sensitivity to nightshade vegetables. Spinach and broccoli tend to contain oxylates, which can form kidney stones if too many of them are eaten. Gluten has become a common allergen and often triggers inflammatory responses in the body. Legumes contain lectins that often cause a sensitivity or reaction in some people. The carnivore diet eliminates these anti-nutrients and allows the body to absorb nutrients easily and effectively. Many people are finding that without anti-nutrients in their diet, their bodies are able to heal.
At this point, the carnivore diet does not have any research backing it. However, many people are beginning to report their anecdotal experience of healing with the carnivore diet.
My experience with the carnivore diet was lacking. I found it very easy to follow after the first week due to its simplicity. Unfortunately, I did not experience any improvement in my hair loss and my seizures returned after two and a half months. After stopping the diet and going back to my normal way of eating and adding magnesium back in, my seizures subsided.
Criticisms of the Carnivore Diet For IBS and IBD