The carnivore diet has taken over the pop culture space like a whirlwind, hot on the heels of other diets like the ketogenic and paleo diets. It has received extremely harsh reviews from some quarters while some proponents swear by it. Will it stand the test of time? Is it worth all the hype? Let’s explore its viability and its chances of soldiering on.
Where did this diet come from?
The Carnivore Diet allows one to eat only meat, fish, and other animal foods like eggs and certain dairy products. It excludes all other foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. Its proponents also recommend eliminating dairy or limiting dairy intake to foods that may contain lactose — a sugar found in milk and dairy products — such as butter and hard cheeses.
The Carnivore Diet stems from the controversial belief that human ancestral populations ate mostly meat and fish and that high-carb diets are to blame for today’s high rates of chronic disease.
The world has yet to produce a civilization which has eaten a vegan diet from childhood through death. Conversely, there are numerous examples throughout recorded history of societies from a variety of cultural, ethnic and geographical backgrounds that have lived on mainly-meat diets for decades, lifetimes, and generations. What exactly did these carnivorous cultures eat, and how healthy or unhealthy were they?
Some of the ancient cultures that practiced carnivorism predominantly are:
The studies on these communities strongly support claims that early man predominantly survived on meat. Although there is no dispute that our early ancestors ate meat, a meat only diet is quite unlikely.
Anthropological evidence contradicts the carnivore claim about early humans not eating carbohydrates. There’s archaeological evidence from at least 30,000 years — that’s 20,000 years before the agricultural revolution — of stone tools that look like mortars and pestles that people used to grind up seeds and grain. It is possible that both Neanderthals and Paleolithic peoples ate barley, beans, and tubers.
In addition, copies of amylase genes, whose only purpose is to make enzymes that digest carbohydrates, are often highly selected for within our genome, suggesting that starchy foods were important throughout our evolutionary history. This contradicts an ancestral all meat diet, or even an ultra-low carb one, as such replications are not strongly selected for within any carnivorous species.
That said, there is still some scientific debate about the diet of Neanderthals, who are partly-ancestral to some people of Eurasian ancestry. There are some exceptionally high levels of δ15N in some Neanderthal remains, which would indicate high levels of meat eating, possibly even rotten meat.
Why you should start this diet as early as today…
Proponents of this diet have lauded it for curing or helping them to manage pretty severe chronic conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, brain fog, digestive issues, autoimmune issues, just to name a few. While most of this evidence is anecdotal, let us look at some benefits of adopting this diet:
The Carnivore Diet and the Leaky Gut
Leaky gut is a condition when the tight junctions of the small intestine open and allow proteins and toxins into the bloodstream. This diet resolves leaky gut by:
The Carnivore Diet Eliminates Refined Carbohydrates
Because all the fiber has been removed from refined carbohydrates, they are digested very rapidly and cause major blood sugar spikes. These spikes can lead to insulin resistance over time especially when these refined carbs are consumed with fat. They also damage the gut. Sugar and carbohydrates are fermented by the gut and colon which can exacerbate GI issues and lead to leaky gut; this fermentation in the gut is why a well-established treatment for IBS recommends low carbohydrates to starve your bacteria.
Over time, refined carbohydrate consumption has been linked to inflammation and obesity. The carnivore diet completely cuts off carbohydrates and may reverse these effects over time.
If you are suffering from severe or incurable conditions with poor therapeutic possibilities, the carnivore diet could be an option you try.