What if a carnivore diet, one that is comprised of eating meat, organs, salt, and water is able to potentially resolve major illnesses? It’s a major question that we tackle in this article along with recent research and studies.
Come to think of it…
It is pretty insane that we almost figured how to go to Mars and live there, and we still can’t figure out what we should eat to sustain a healthy life.
(Corporate food and pharmaceutical interests play a role but that’s a whole different post.)
In it researchers analyzed diet patterns across 195 countries and calculated the number of deaths related to risk factors like cardiovascular diseases, smoking, and drug abuse.
However, poor diet was found to be the leading cause of death. That explains why millions of people around the globe are continuously hunting for diets that could improve their health.
Different low-carb diet versions like the Carnivore diet, Paleo, Atkins, Keto Diet gained popularity over the last couple of decades for their weight loss results and possible health benefits.
Across social media platforms, people are sharing many anecdotes about the miracles of low-carb diets. Of course, anecdotes might be biased or too optimistic.
Therefore, we are here today to see what scientific research and experts have to say about the health benefits of the Carnivore Diet.
And speaking of experts I acquired the help of Dr. Nour Ibrahim. She helped procure the research, dissect it, co-write and present it for this eye-opening article.
Neither she nor I am giving you medical advice, this article is a display of information and knowledge.
1. Obesity-related diseases
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is without a doubt linked to an increased risk of many serious health issues like coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnoea and breathing problem, and mental health problems like depression, and the list goes on 2.
In the United States, obesity is the number one uncommunicable disease causing death.
We used to think that lowering fat count is the best solution. However, study after study shows that we couldn’t be more wrong. We have been duped!
A randomized controlled study funded by the National Institute of Health that involved 148 participants concluded that low-carb diets are more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than low-fat diets 3.
This is mostly because protein is very satiating and can possibly increase your metabolic rate.
2. Diabetes type 1 and 2
Do we need to discuss how bad diabetes is? Probably not.
However, we need to stress on how prevalent it is. 1 in 11 people walking on this planet now have diabetes, and most of them don’t even know it.
An even more shocking fact is that 1 out of 3 adults is pre-diabetic. Thus, in the next couple of decades, we will see an exponential boom in the numbers.
Fortunately, the first line of management of diabetes is lifestyle modification a.k.a. diet and exercise. Many studies showed how standard diets can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and poorer control of diabetes 6.
Emerging studies are constantly proving the value of ketosis in diabetes control.
After two months on the diet, his C-peptide, insulin production marker, levels were tripled. In other words, the diet may stop or reverse the autoimmune process destroyed his insulin-producing Beta cells.
An even bigger clinical trial was carried out with diabetic patients that proved the positive effects of low-carb diets on diabetes control 8.
Just within two weeks, patients’ 24-hour blood glucose profiles, insulin sensitivity, and hemoglobin A1c all improved, and their plasma triglyceride and cholesterol levels decreased.
They also lost weight. Of course, more trials are needed for the long term effects, but so far so promising.
3. Irritable bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Low residue diets are diets low in fibers, so it recommends lowering vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. The carnivore diet is a super low-residue diet.
This gives patients with irritable syndrome a relief from symptoms like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and discomfort.
It summarizes how lowering fibers can help manage different gastrointestinal problems like diverticulitis and IBS.
Another study shows how this diet is a very good diet option in the flares of inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s as they can induce remission 10.
4. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
SIBO means an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine that alters your guts functions. This disease is not fully understood yet, but scientists think anatomical abnormalities, pH changes, and autoimmune disorders are incriminated.
SIBO has also been associated with specific diseases like viral gastroenteritis, IBS, and Crohn’s. This is a serious condition as it might lead to malnutrition, leaky gut, and hepatic encephalopathy.
In a study published by Nature, healthy volunteers were put on an animal-based diet similar to the carnivore diet. Researchers found that the gut microbiome was dramatically improved within just 48 hours 11.
Perhaps altering the gut’s microbiome is essential for treating almost any chronic condition too as this study shows 12.
5. Cognitive function impairing diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia
Geriatric disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia has no known definitive drug treatment yet, and all medicine has to offer is diet modifications and promising drugs.
Anecdotes from carnivores showed favorable outcomes with cognition, and scientists are currently experimenting with its efficacy.
A randomized control diet on 23 adults found that high protein diets containing red meat significantly improved the subjects’ reaction times just after 3 weeks 13.
Increased levels of branched-chain amino acids and phenylalanine in their plasma might be the explanation.
Another study analyzed the eating patterns of Chinese children and showed a positive association between meat intake and improved scores in cognition assessment tests 14.
Check out MeatRX for a boatload of testimonials.
6. Childhood disorders like Autism and ADHD
Autism is a very elusive disorder. Doctors are constantly updating the diagnoses and management criteria.
The carnivore diet is rich in elements that are good for individuals suffering from Autism and ADHD like cysteine, carnitines, omega-3, antioxidants, and zinc. All these elements are abundant in meat.
A meta-analysis of 6 randomized controlled trials proved that a diet rich in omega-3 can lessen hyperactivity, lethargy, and stereotypical behavior 15. A pilot study on 33 subjects proved how cysteine can help significantly with irritability 16.
The carnivore diet is not only rich in helpful constituents but also cuts harmful constituents from the diet completely.
For example, gluten and casein are infamous for their deleterious effect as people with autism have higher than normal affinity to produce antibodies against them. These antibodies might be a trigger for the worsening of symptoms of autism 17.
7. Psychiatric conditions like OCD, Schizophrenia, and depression
Psychiatric conditions’ pathogenesis lies in disturbances in different brain chemicals and neurotransmitters.
This creates an imbalance in the fine-tuning of your brain’s chemistry. The food that we digest contains the precursors it needs to assemble these chemicals, so eliminating what is in abundance and introducing what is scarce is one way to restore balance.
There is evidence that severe dietary-induced inflammation might be another culprit in severe mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia 18.
The carnivore diet and other low carb diets are celebrated for their abilities to decrease inflammation.
Increased glutamate level is seen in OCD, anxiety, hyperalgesia, and ADHD. Therefore, eliminating its sources can help control the disease.
Plant proteins can be made up of up to 40% glutamate. Other glutamate-rich sources are cheese and soy sauce. On the other hand, meat is usually around 10 to 15% glutamate.
Therefore, the carnivore diet provides a good lifestyle for these individuals. Studies show that OCD can be improved with high levels of cysteine like autism 19.
Another recommended article by Dr. Georgia Ede shows the potential positive effects of a carnivore diet and mental health. Check out:
8. Food Allergies
The problem with food allergies is how unpredictable it is. The symptoms are vague, treatment is subject, and the prognosis is a far-fetched dream.
So if you are lucky enough to be diagnosed, your doctor will ask you to eliminate that specific substance.
However, if like most people, you don’t know where the trouble is coming from. Your only option will be a trial and error approach with your diet.
A plant-based diet can provide you with allergenic substances like lectins and glutens to name a few. Gross!
These cause inflammations and a set of unfavorable symptoms like abdominal pain, fatigue, and discomfort. They can also disrupt your gut permeability silently for years.
Potentially, the best strategy is eliminating them as the carnivore diet devotees do.
According to Dr. Michael Ruscio, a functional medicine practitioner, clinical researcher, and international lecturer, the carnivore diet proved very valuable for his practice as he reports considerable improvement in around 60% of his patients.
In a podcast, he further elaborates on how it works and how he thinks it’s a life changer for some of his patients 20.
9. Neurological conditions like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis
Neurological conditions can be explained with many theories. A lot of inflammation and autoimmune mechanisms are usually involved.
Therefore, it makes sense that a diet decreasing these mechanisms should be helpful.
For example, multiple sclerosis is a neurological disorder in which the myelin sheath is damaged. This process of demyelination can be slowed down by following a carnivore diet.
A study investigating the relationship between meat consumption and central nervous system demyelination proved that increased intake of unprocessed healthy meat caused a reduction in multiple sclerosis markers 21.
Another remarkable benefit of following a ketogenic diet like the carnivore diet is in stabilizing epileptic patients.
The first versions of ketogenic diets originated when doctors observed the favorable link between fasting and stabilization of patients with intractable epilepsy. This is due to ketone production by the body.
A recent study suggests that it should even be used for other neurological conditions like Dravet syndrome and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 22.
10. Autoimmune conditions
We saved the best for last. This is perhaps the most promising benefit of the carnivore diet and why so many people are looking it up.
This is the case in diseases like ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s, psoriasis, etc. Current medications like biological therapy are detrimental to health, and many patients suffer so much from the side effects that they stop it altogether.
So how can the carnivore diet help?
Some scientists believe that autoimmune reactions can be traced back to our body’s reaction to what we consume. For example, wheat-containing food can trigger the immune system and make it attack the brain cells.
Foods high in zinc and vitamin B can potentially help your immune system’s regulation mechanisms.
What is a very high source for both? MEAT.
In his interview with Dr. Shawn Baker, Dr. Csaba Toth further explains how the carnivore diet is the answer to autoimmune disease 23. Since 2010, Dr. Toth, a Hungarian researcher, and physician used Paleolithic-ketogenic nutrition in the treatment of chronic medical illnesses.
Ready to try the carnivore diet or tip your toes in the water? We have an intro to the carnivore diet and a 28-day plan. Check out:
We live in a fast-paced world; the body of science is changing by the minute. Yesterday’s anecdotes can be today’s facts.
Therefore, for the sake of your health, be open-minded and well-researched. You can find help in trusted sites.
We try to help too with providing FAQ style articles like these:
- Can You Drink Alcohol On The Carnivore Diet? (Why and Why not?)
- Can You Eat Avocados on a Carnivore Diet? (Why & Why Not?)
- Is Intermittent Fasting on a Carnivore Diet Wise? Pros & Cons
If you suffer from health conditions, your doctor and dietician can simplify the transition into a healthier lifestyle that’s best tailored to you.
Diet is a powerful tool that can completely alter your life, so make sure to use it and improve your quality of life.
You can find my friend and co-author Dr. Nour Ibrahim at LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or dietician or nutritionist. Consult with and ask your doctor about any diet or medical-related questions. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.
1. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 20171. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017
4. Relatively high-protein or ‘low-carb’ energy-restricted diets for body weight loss and body weight maintenance?4. Relatively high-protein or ‘low-carb’ energy-restricted diets for body weight loss and body weight maintenance?
8. Effect of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Appetite, Blood Glucose Levels, and Insulin Resistance in Obese Patients with Type 2 DiabetesEffect of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Appetite, Blood Glucose Levels, and Insulin Resistance in Obese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
9. Low-residue and low-fiber diets in gastrointestinal disease management. Vanhauwaert E1, Matthys C2, Verdonck L3, De Preter V4.Low-residue and low-fiber diets in gastrointestinal disease management. Vanhauwaert E1, Matthys C2, Verdonck L3, De Preter V4.
12. Aspects of Gut Microbiota and Immune System Interactions in Infectious Diseases, Immunopathology, and CancerAspects of Gut Microbiota and Immune System Interactions in Infectious Diseases, Immunopathology, and Cancer
13. Effect of a high protein meat diet on muscle and cognitive functions: a randomised controlled dietary intervention trial in healthy men.Effect of a high protein meat diet on muscle and cognitive functions: a randomised controlled dietary intervention trial in healthy men.
14. Is childhood meat eating associated with better later adulthood cognition in a developing population?Is childhood meat eating associated with better later adulthood cognition in a developing population?
15. Supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids may improve hyperactivity, lethargy, and stereotypy in children with autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trialsSupplementation of omega 3 fatty acids may improve hyperactivity, lethargy, and stereotypy in children with autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
18. What Is the Role of Dietary Inflammation in Severe Mental Illness? A Review of Observational and Experimental FindingsWhat Is the Role of Dietary Inflammation in Severe Mental Illness? A Review of Observational and Experimental Findings
21. Higher Non-processed Red Meat Consumption Is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Central Nervous System DemyelinationHigher Non-processed Red Meat Consumption Is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Central Nervous System Demyelination