At present, the evidence in favour of the carnivore diet is largely anecdotal.
Nevertheless, I recommend the carnivore diet with confidence for clients with autoimmune disease.
The evidence that autoimmune disease is closely related to certain plant-based foods is undeniable. The role of plant-based food inducing leaky gut is well established. Now leaky brain is in the spotlight of research. On the other hand, animal-based food is largely free of autoimmune involvement.
Trying an Elimination Diet
I see the carnivore diet as the ultimate elimination diet. After one to three months most people are ready to reintroduce plant-based food in an orderly way, preferably under supervision.
It’s best to exclude dairy and eggs for the first two months. If you are confident that you can consume dairy and eggs without problems then you may choose not to exclude them. Be aware that autoimmunity is quite different from more immediate forms of food allergy.
You would need to consult with your doctor or nutritionist about transitioning from the standard Australian diet to a carnivore diet.
The body is perfectly able to adjust but it takes time – maybe a week sometimes a month.
Forget about counting macros and calories. While the focus appears to be on meat, most of your energy needs will be derived from the fat that naturally comes with the meat.
What Should You Eat on a Carnivore Diet?
Ideally, your carnivore diet should consist entirely of muscle meat, including the fat that comes with the meat and lambs fry (liver) sourced from animals that have spent their entire life on naturally pastured, preferably organic farms, or wild caught fish. They should therefore be free of antibiotics and growth hormones and should not be ‘finished’ with grain.
Food derived from natural grass-fed animals is the closest food to what our ancestors have been eating for 300 million years.
The first animals to emerge onto land, the reptiles and amphibians were and still are pure carnivores. Their metabolic processes have remained almost unchanged and are remarkably like our own. They have survived 300 million years without doctors and supermarkets, medicines or supplements on an all-meat diet.
Since there are many triggers for autoimmune disease, I cannot guarantee that a carnivore diet will improve your autoimmune condition let alone reverse it. But I absolutely believe it is worth trying.
Bowel problems like Crohn’s disease and colitis are likely to improve more quickly than, for example, thyroiditis or rheumatoid arthritis. It is certainly worth persevering for two or three months.
By that time, it is not unusual to be able to wean off methotrexate and reduce or stop prednisolone. You must be guided by your doctor. Expect bowel biopsies to improve.
Furthermore, there may well be an improvement in general well-being beyond the immediate problem. After all, the lack of carbohydrates alone represents a major reduction in inflammation throughout the body.
What’s Making Us All Sick?
There is good reason to be concerned that our diet may be making us unwell. We need to eliminate the cause. Finding the cause can be extremely difficult. It is highly likely that the cause will be found in plant-based food. Most of the best poisons are derived from plants while virtually none are found in meat.
Evolution and the Rise of Agriculture
Cutting a long and fascinating story very short, the human body evolved over millions of years to eat a wide range of both animal and plant food. Our brains grew and we became intelligent enough to start manipulating food in a way no other animal has ever done.
We learned to cook food thereby extracting far more nourishment. This enabled more brain growth. We developed vastly superior intelligence. We got too smart for our own good and the result was the first agricultural revolution.
It now seems likely that we should never have started growing wheat as a food about 10,000 years ago. Wheat provided cheap, readily available energy. It enabled humans to settle in one spot, build cities and enabled a population explosion.
Unfortunately, wheat contains a protein molecule that humans are unable to digest completely, and which subtly damages our digestive system. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
Jump forward to just two hundred years ago when our big brains dealt several more blows to our digestive system and metabolism. The second agricultural revolution, combined with the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism, resulted in major changes in our diet.
Enter Cheap Sugar, Wheat, Cotton Seed Oil and Tobacco.
Then, in the mid-20th century, the US Department of Agriculture misguidedly instructed the American people to reduce their consumption of animal food, particularly animal fat, to reduce the risk of heart attacks. The world listened and followed their example.
As a consequence, the modern diet consists of mostly manufactured food. We are encouraged to consume manufactured seed oils instead of natural fat. Manufactured, refined sugar or carbohydrates that rapidly convert to sugar is added to just about everything we eat. Vegetables are modified either genetically or by more traditional means.
Food Manufacturers are Powerful
The manufactured food industry is now manipulating our dietary habits in every conceivable way and is causing a wide range of health problems.
The only food that remains relatively free of manufacturing interventions, close to what our ancestors ate, is unprocessed meat raised on natural organic pasture, free of hormones and antibiotics together with occasional wild caught fish.
We now know that part of gluten, the protein in wheat, damages the lining of the bowel and predisposes to the development of leaky gut which in turn can lead to autoimmune disease.
Making Simple Changes to Your Diet
I consider a meat and fish only diet, sometimes known as a zero carbohydrate or carnivore diet, is the ultimate diet to exclude all the likely problems evolving from manufactured food.
Many people achieve impressive improvements in their health by switching temporarily to a carnivore diet.
While a carnivore diet is challenging, so is continuing to suffer from autoimmune disease.
Always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.