The carnivore diet is a controversial diet, but anecdotal evidence shows some positive benefits for people who suffer from arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
By Dawn Flemming
There is a new fad going on that is promoting a carnivore diet. A carnivore diet essentially consists of avoiding all dairy (except for butter), fruits and veggies. Even plant based oils like olive oil are strictly off limits. People who advocate this diet claim to have lost significant amounts of weight and cured themselves of many diseases, especially autoimmune diseases like arthritis.
The idea behind it is that “plants don’t like to be eaten” therefore they contain toxins to keep animals from eating them. As a result, many people have allergies to plants but they don't know it. Along with many other dietitians, they also agree that sugar is bad for you. But they go as far as seeing all carbs as bad, even those from fruits.
Many doctors and dietitians are warning against this new diet claiming that it can lead to nutritional deficiencies, high LDL cholesterol and heart disease.
The critiques are, however, problematic. High LDL cholesterol does not cause heart disease. In fact, lower LDL is more often associated with heart attacks than high LDL. Current research shows that the real culprit are triglycerides and small dense LDL cholesterol. Most triglycerides actually come from carbohydrates, but it seems that small dense LDL cholesterol is mostly sugar and carb based. As such, carbs are a bigger culprit behind heart diseases.
However, when it comes to the benefits of the carnivore diet, the scientific studies on this diet are mostly lacking. Yet anecdotal evidence is showing that it may have some benefits.
The carnivore diet has been popularized by Mikhaila Peterson, daughter of the famous Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson. Mikhaila Peterson claims that the carnivore diet has cured her of her depression and childhood arthritis.
Her story is a story of pain:
I was a really sick person since I was 2. I was prone to getting bacterial infections (strep throat, pneumonia, etc.), yeast infections, colds, etc. I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis when I was 7 and ended up with multiple joints replaced at age 17. I started antidepressants for severe depression/anxiety in grade 5. I suffered from “idiopathic hypersomnia” – aka I couldn’t wake up. I spent approximately 17 hours a day sleeping and the rest in a half daze. I had itchy skin starting at age 14 that I just ignored. Then my skin problems started at about age 19. Cystic acne, painful bumps, blistering…
I was on multiple medications, antidepressants, immune suppressants, amphetamines.
After trying multiple diets, Mikhaila noticed that after eliminating all foods except for meat, all of her arthritis symptoms disappeared in addition to her rashes and depression. Mikhaila credits the carnivore diet as having cured her from her autoimmune disease.
Now I only eat beef, salt, and drink water. Same with my parents. It sounds extreme but this was the only thing that made the depression completely lift, and autoimmune symptoms go away again. I’ve been eating like this since December 2017. I will never go back. I’ve never felt like this before and it’s amazing.
The carnivore diet has not been approved by the mainstream medical and nutritional establishment and is a possible danger. If you wish to try this diet, make sure to do so under medical supervision.
Dawn Flemming is Director of Business Services at Geriatric In-Home Care in Fresno, California.