The carnivore diet is a low-carb diet based entirely on animal products. It’s an elimination diet — a more restrictive version of keto or paleo. Animal food is mostly protein and fat, and this is what our ancestors relied on.
Starting a carnivore diet can be a life-changing decision. People often shift to a carnivore diet from the high-carbohydrate standard American diet, either due to chronic disease or because they want to lose weight. Data shows that roughly half of the American population suffers from at least one chronic disease, and that two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese.
At present, there is not much research on the carnivore direct directly, except the Harvard carnivore diet study, which showed the carnivore diet had numerous health benefits.
However, there are numerous other studies that show the benefits of low-carb, high-protein, ketogenic, and low-FODMAP diets. In this article, we’ll review what these studies found regarding the treatment of various health conditions.
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Animal-based eating is helpful for autoimmune diseases because the carnivore diet reduces inflammation.
Autoimmune diseases result when the immune system of a person backfires and fights against its own tissues. What causes this hyperactivity of immune system is not yet clear. It is proposed, however, that various microorganisms confuse the immune system and it starts to recognize body cells as foreign and destroys them. It may be the result of dysbiosis and excessive inflammation.
The carnivore diet has very little to zero inflammatory food and can benefit patients with autoimmune diseases. Mikhaila Peterson, podcaster and daughter of academic Jordan Peterson, claims that her autoimmune conditions got better with a version of the carnivore diet that she calls the Lion Diet.
There has been debate over this issue between advocates and critics of the carnivore diet as there is not much scientific data about it. However it has been shown that rheumatoid arthritis patients benefit from anti-inflammatory foods containing omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish contains a high amount of these fatty acids and can be beneficial to reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients. This research on omega-3s showed encouraging results for rheumatoid arthritis.
The carnivore diet can treat psoriasis, which is a skin condition and autoimmune disease.
You can start a carnivore diet to reduce symptoms if you have psoriasis. However, it should be noted that some people also claim that their condition worsened after the initiation of carnivore diet. If this happens to you then you should stop the carnivore diet and consult with your physician.
A lot of research shows that the carnivore diet is great for IBS.
FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) can cause gut irritation. This results in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition which almost 30 million American have.
The standard American diet is rich in carbs, thus contributing to FODMAPs. Plus, it contains foods that are not easily digested like soluble and insoluble fibers, which trigger irritation of the gut. An effective way to treat IBS is to restrict FODMAPs and these fibers.
Since the carnivore diet is free of FODMAPs and fibers, it can prove very beneficial for IBS.
The carnivore diet helps protect your gums and teeth.
The rationale behind is this that bacteria are the main cause of dental caries and gum diseases, and these bacteria thrive on carbohydrates. Restricting carbohydrates prevents the bacteria from feeding upon glucose and they die. This results in protection of the gums and teeth.
A pilot study showed that when ten participants consumed a low carb, high omega-3 diet, the health of their gums improved significantly.
The carnivore diet is one of the best diets for weight loss.
On any diet, if you consume fewer calories than you burn, then you lose weight. This is known as a calorie deficit. However, the most challenging part is to continually lose weight over a long period of time and maintain it. Most people regain the lost weight if their diet and lifestyle choices are poor.
The carnivore diet is helpful for weight loss, because consuming more proteins and fat gives you a feeling of fullness and satiety, and prevents you from habitual eating. Most people on a carnivore diet report that they only eat when they are hungry, so they easily stay in a calorie deficit.
The main reason people find they are not losing weight on the carnivore diet is that they add in too many calories from carbohydrates.
Other Health Issues
Research is limited, but existing data supports how a low-carb, high-protein diet may also help with the following health issues:
- Carnivore diet and erectile dysfunction
- Carnivore diet and hair loss
- Carnivore diet and insomnia
- Carnivore diet and kidney stones
- Carnivore diet and menopause
- Carnivore diet and multiple sclerosis
- Carnivore diet and rosacea
Side Effects of the Carnivore Diet
It must be noted that along with benefits, there are some carnivore diet side effects, including diarrhea and headache. Just like any way of eating, there are pros and cons of the carnivore diet.
If you are on a long-term carnivore diet, then you may face electrolyte deficiency. This is why many people transition to a seasonal ancestral diet or a carnivore diet with fruit once they have experienced the initial healing effects of the carnivore diet. These less strict diets allow you to get more vitamin C and minerals.
Before starting any elimination diet, consult your physician and go through a routine lab checkup where you check your uric acid, LDL, HDL levels, serum electrolytes, and blood sugar. If the lab reports are normal, you can start with your carnivore journey.