This week I’ve been watching several videos by Mikhaila Peterson about how she has transformed her health by eating a ‘carnivore’ diet.
Mikhaila suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and depression as a child, which continued into her teens and early 20s. (She is now 26). Looking back, she believes her health problems stem from repeated courses of antibiotics for various infections such as strep throat, bronchitis and pneumonia throughout her childhood and teenage years.
After trying everything conventional medicine had to offer, including immunotherapy, amphetamines, pain killers, SSRI’s, SNRI’s, mood stabilizers, antibiotics and surgery (two hip replacements in her teens) she realised she had to take her health into her own hands if she was every going to get well.
She started experimenting with different diets in 2015. These included the candida diet, a sugar-free diet, low carb diet, ketogenic diet, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), GAPS diet etc.
She did gain some improvement as she reduced the carbohydrate in her diet. But the big breakthrough came when she switched to a completely carnivore diet in December 2017. She now eats only meat (mainly beef) and drinks mainly water (although she can drink vodka and bourbon without issues!).
Only this strict diet, Mikhaila is now free from almost all her previous symptoms. But if she varies from the diet even a little bit – even eating green vegetables – she gets a flare up of either arthritis, skin breakouts or depression, depending on the food introduced.
It’s hard to argue against these kind of results from eating a carnivore diet, even if it seems to go against everything the nutrition experts tell us. Mikhaila Peterson is one of many people who have experienced better health on the carnivore diet. It seems to be particularly helpful for people suffering with autoimmune diseases and depression.
So, what should we make of this?
As an honest seeker after the truth, I want to know. There is a growing carnivore community, which believes an all meat diet (or at least an all animal product diet, including fish, eggs, maybe dairy products) is the way that people are meant to eat.
I can’t agree with this. Just as I can’t agree with those at the opposite end of the diet spectrum who believe a vegan diet is the way all humans are meant to eat!
Don’t we live in a crazy world
On one hand, we have people telling us to eat only animals and avoid vegetables and fruit. On the other hand, the vegans are telling us to eat only vegetables and fruit, and avoid all animal products as if they were poison.
Mikhaila Peterson acknowledges that a carnivore diet is not the right diet for everyone. She is still working to trying to resolve the underlying problem that makes her unable to tolerate any plant foods. But in the meantime, she is happy to enjoy the best health she has ever experienced, by eating a carnivore diet.
Another prominent member of the carnivore community, Dr Ken Berry, believes the reason some people do well on a carnivore diet, while other do not, is due to DNA. Dr Berry says his ancestors came from the colder climate of northern Europe, where people traditionally ate more meat, particularly in pre-historic times.
His wife’s ancestors came from the tropics, and she does better on a diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, and not much meat. So you have two extremes in the same household. This has made him less dogmatic about the carnivore diet being the ultimate diet for all of humanity.
Meat is the most nutrient dense food
Mainstream nutritional advice today is that we need to cut way back on animal products, particularly red meat, and increase the amount of vegetables and fruit in our diet. As a result, many health-conscious people are loading up on huge salads, green smoothies and lots of fruit.
But you can have too much of a good thing. Dr Anthony Gustin, who has personally tested the carnivore diet for several weeks, points out that animal products are much more nutrient dense than vegetables.
When you eat meat from a healthy animal, you are eating pretty much every macro and micro nutrient your body needs. This is particularly true if you eat all the organ meats from an animal.
Other animal foods, such as eggs, are also highly packed with nutrients. An egg contains everything necessary for the development of a chicken. It is highly nutritious for this reason.
Dr Gustin says while animal foods nourish the body and are easily digested, plant foods tend to stress the body. This stress is not bad in itself. In fact, it stimulates the immune system to adapt to the stress, and get stronger. It is similar to exercise, which is also a stress on the body.
If you exercise and then rest while your body recovers from the stress, you get stronger. But if you exercise too much, you will wear down your body and your health will suffer.
Dr Gustin believes it’s the same with vegetables. If you eat too many vegetables, particularly raw, you over-stress your body and wear down your health.
Furthermore, some people are sensitive to various things such as FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligo-Di-Mono-saccharides And Polyols) a type of fiber found in some vegetables, or nightshades or other vegetables, or nuts etc. Or they have autoimmune conditions that make them sensitive to various foods.
By stripping right back to a carnivore diet, you are eliminating all potential food sensitivities. This gives your body a chance to heal.
So, we have some people claiming meat only is best, while others say we should eat plants only. You can see why ordinary people are so confused about what to eat.
I believe the truth is somewhere between the two extremes, for most people. Both animal foods and plant foods are beneficial to eat. We should eat a combination of both. Different people, at different times in our lives, need a different balance between plant and animal foods.
I believe there could be some truth in Dr Ken Berry’s view that people whose ancestors come from colder northern climates are more genetically adapted to a meat based diet, while the closer towards the equator you go, the less meat people tend to eat.
My ancestors come from France and Italy, which might explain why a Mediterranean type of diet seems to suit me.
Also, if you have any kind of autoimmune condition or gut issues, a meat based diet seems to be effective. I am not convinced a carnivore diet is the right way to eat for the long term, but it can be an effective “gut reset” program for some people.
You remove any foods you are sensitive to, and give your digestive system a break from churning through so much vegetable fiber all the time. Just removing fiber for a short period of time can be super restorative for many people’s guts. If you want more information on this, head to Dr Gustin’s Youtube channel.
I would also like to hear from anyone who has tried a carnivore diet.