To Carnivore or Not to Carnivore?
The extremes in eating from carnivore to vegan and everything in between can be confusing and opposing.
The Nutrition Academy will always address these issues with the philosophy of vitalism and a deep dive into the anthropological principles of culture and food.
If the Carnivore Diet is what you want then it’s important that like any dietary regime you undertake, that the food you consume and especially animal products are from regenerative farming practices and not animals fed corn and soy. This includes no farmed fish, no grain fed animals (poultry, pig, beef, lamb, dairy). These two foods (corn and soy) change the fat composition of the animal’s flesh to one high in polyunsaturated fats rather than saturated and monounsaturated fat, there is evidence that these fats have a part to play in the hormone leptin (the satiety hormone).
In any dietary undertaking whether it is vegan or carnivore, it’s important to keep polyunsaturated fats to a minimum. Not only stay away from the vegetable oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats but also the meat and its produce that has not been farmed regeneratively and with their own ancestral diet in mind.
In brief, looking historically, just eating meat would have been required in a survival mode for humans. A flood, an earthquake, drought and extremes in landscapes would have had humans hunting animals for their own survival when plants were unavailable. Today we do not have these problems but what we have is a society of very sick people, who are seeking ways to get well both physically and mentally and are prepared to do anything or sacrifice foods and whole food groups to make it happen. We will address both aspects when wondering whether to do the Carnivore Diet.
The health of humanity is at the worst it has ever been, there are more people dying from too much food (obesity) than lack of food. There is not a food issue but rather a nutrient issue. People think that because it is on the supermarket shelf it is safe and reading only the nutritional label of fats, carbs and proteins will help with making a healthy choice. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even the ingredient part of the label only tells half of the story. The other half of the story is a dirty secret not being told on the label.
Firstly, ingredients not listed can be a process done to the food like a chemical or irradiation but is not put in the ingredient list. Or the additive could be the result of synthetic biology (GM of microbes), or the food may have been farmed using conventional practices where traces of chemicals like glyphosate, lead of arsenate, parquat and another 144 dubious chemicals are in the food. The container may be plastic or lined with plastic that leaches endocrine disruptors. The combination of additives may have an unknown chemical reaction. The list is endless. This disregard for nutrient dense food has caused the health of humanity to deteriorate.
Glyphosate, antibiotics, PPI’s (protein pump inhibitors) steroids, preservatives, BPA, microplastics all have a part to play in the erosion of the ecology of our soil, the quality of the food grown on and in the soil, and the health of the human microbiome.
As a result, we have a microbiome that is in dysbiosis, our foods are lacking in nutrition and filled with more things to in turn decrease the viability and diversity of our microbiome. This in turn increases inflammation, autoimmunity, cancer and any other malady that we see increasing in the modern world.
These extremes in our environment and food are a burden to our health. These extremes also require extreme modalities to find health again. In nutrition, this means taking out many food groups to find some homeostasis and health.
When I was a nutritionist in the 1980’s it was easy. Take people off the SAD (Standard Australian Diet) and put them on a real food diet. Most got better. These days, many people struggle to tolerate real foods like grains, vegetables, fruits, fermented foods, nuts and even seeds. 30 years ago when GAPS started it was revolutionary, but it was a step up from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), now there is GAPS on steroids as in the Kultured Wellness Programs. This is because things are not getting better they are getting worse and so we must adapt to the changing health issues.
Enter the surge of the Carnivore Diet, a diet that can take on a few variations.
- All types of meat and eggs
- All types of meat, eggs, fruit and honey
- All types of meat, eggs, dairy
If we look anthropologically, we can see the first variation could be survival in an otherwise barren landscape, the second one is currently being eaten by the Hadza’s in Tanzania because that is what is available in their landscape and the third one is similar to the Himba diet in Namibia and the Krygyz of Pamir, a more herder type diet.
When I went to Namibia and spent a month driving through the landscape it was hard to even spot a blade of grass, but I saw thousands of animals grazing and living within the desert region. The Himba’s who lived on the land not only herded goats for their diary but also were great hunters, and if they lived near a township, maize was grown to supplement the diet and if they were close to a tourist attraction they were paid in vegetable oil and ultra processed foods. I visited each one of these tribes and saw first hand the state of their health.
I was fortunate enough to drive through a dry creek bed for many days to find a tribe that had no western influence but were the true Himba’s eating mainly dairy and meat, fermenting and drying respectively. Needless to say, this tribe seemed to be the healthiest of all those I visited. No snotty noses were seen amongst the children and their teeth were perfect and white. The older generation were all upright still carrying heavy loads and all members of the tribe were lean and energetic.
Namibia just a couple of years ago had more rain than they had had in years and grass for animals and other foods that had laid dormant became abundant. This is when the Himba’s would have relished the change in diet from meat and dairy to more carbohydrates.
Humans have a sweet tooth a hankering for carbohydrates as this was important for survival a need to feed the microbiome. They can eat a variety of diets and survive all the way from no meat to nothing but meat. Having said that, it’s important to look at the strength, health and height of humans through the ages depending on the diet they consumed, especially when it comes to long term over generations. But looking at these diets for a short term may be the answer for people.
In current days for most of us we do not live in a desert or a high mountain we live in a landscape filled with food, we can have anything we want at any time, but with the human microbiome and health degrading, we may have to emulate ancient ways of eating to find health again.
There are people, doctors included that you can follow online. These people have been following the carnivore diet for more than the short term. It has helped with strength, health issues both physical and mental as well as ease the burden of medications that had once consumed.
I was speaking with a gym owner who told me that his clients consist of truck drivers, tradies and hard-working men who don’t want to do some elaborate program with cooking they just want to do something easy, like throwing meat on the BBQ or fire. He doesn’t agree with protein powders, so he tells them to eat one of the variations of the carnivore diet, no supplements no other rules, just eat meat. He gives them 4 weeks to do it and they find it easy as they don’t have to think too far past eating meat. An easy protocol to do for a reset for his clients. It’s not long term but very short term. The results can be miraculous for some.
I spoke with a young man that said within days of consuming a carnivore diet his mental and physical health improved, after 6 weeks he started to introduce raw dairy and fruit and honey and he noticed a decline in his mental health and energy. Remember we are all individuals. What suits one doesn’t necessarily suit another. The trick is to try it.
My son in-law and daughter decided to try the Carnivore Diet, they lasted a week. They do not have any significant physical or mental health issues, so went back to their varied diet which only includes real food.
My question with the Carnivore Diet; will there need to be a supplement of some sort to feed a deficiency as we see in long term vegan consumption? I guess time will tell. The fact that there are tribes that live on variations of the Carnivore Diet (paleo even) makes me think that it’s possible to survive this diet without supplementation but knowing that in a good season carbohydrates would be consumed.
You might be wondering if I have tried the Carnivore Diet. The answer is no. But if my digestive system is out of whack, I will take a day of all fibre and just eat meat. That settles everything down and I’m ready to go back to my omnivore diet the next day. Having said that, I can also do that with fasting and or a fresh vegetable juice diet. In other words, there are many ways to heal, just find the easiest and the best for you.
The Carnivore Diet is a healing diet, I do not believe it should be a long term diet except for medical reasons.
Amber O’Hearn had mental health issues and while on the Carnivore Diet she takes no medication. What’s interesting while pregnant she craved carbohydrates so she listened to her body. She had no mental health issues during that time. There is a great podcast where she explains her need to change the food she was eating. Check out Peak Human Podcast – Part 162.