Being in the paleo/low carb world for almost 10 years now I’ve seen zero-carb or carnivore pop up from time to time. It seemed like a joke! Meat only? Talk about nutritional deficiencies.
However, in the past year I’ve seen carnivore and more specifically nose-to-tail carnivore coming up a lot! And quite a few people who are doctors or researchers in the field talking about it. So it was time to pay attention.
There are 3 doctors who are dominating the carnivore world. Dr Paul Saladino, Dr Ken Berry, and Dr Shawn Baker. I’ve spent months listening to everything I could from them. Some of my favourite writers, podcasters, coaches, and doctors, have had them on their podcasts to discuss. They even been involved in debates with people of different ideologies around nutrition.
Ultimately when you dig into the research it’s showing that a nose-to-tail carnivore diet does get you all the micronutrients you need. As with any way of eating you can take it and make it junky. A vegan can simply eat chips; someone following paleo could just eat paleo muffins; someone keto could just eat bacon and cheese. So it follows that a carnivore could just eat muscle meat. None of these are ideal ways of eating even though they stick within the ‘rules’ of that WOE.
Adding in organs, cartilage, and bone broth is the way to make it a balanced carnivore diet.
I guess the big question is why. Why the heck would someone do that? Two reasons.
1) Plants do in fact contain toxins. It’s their natural defence mechanism because they can’t run away or fight back (and yes, the same/similar toxins that grains and legumes have – lectins and phytates). Oxalates for example are a toxin that you’ve probably heard of – they are what causes kidney stones and are found in spinach, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, nuts, and peanuts. A lot of people argue that these toxins have a hormetic affect. Basically what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So these toxins cause a stress response, which causes greater antioxidant production (mostly Glutathione- your bodies endogenous antioxidant), which means more antioxidants to help clean up all the free radicals aka oxidants running around causing cellular damage. But, there are other ways to increase glutathione (eat meat, get enough sleep and exercise!).
In one of the podcasts I listened to Dr Paul Saladino mentioned several studies where they had shown NO CHANGE at a cellular level between people who ate vegetables and people who didn’t. So, according to these studies, vegetables were not having any positive impact on health. I wish I had noted which podcast (I’ve listened to so many on this topic 😂) because it kinda blew my mind and I want to read the studies. If I find them I’ll definitely share! (I’m still in disbelief and need to see more research).
So if you’re not getting any benefit from vegetables but could be suffering negatives from the toxins it kinda makes you wonder why you should eat them?
2) There are some amazing anecdotal stories about people changing their health using a carnivorous diet. Auto immune, IBS, eczema, and more! It’s typically people who have tried everything to get their health back and yet nothing has worked. Those 3 doctors I mentioned earlier (plus I’m going to throw in Dr Ryan Lowery since he’s tinkered with it and is a wealth of information!) have all shown blood work after months or years of eating carnivore and there are no nutritional deficiencies. But they’ve all had different issues go away with the change in diet.
So, where do I stand?
From an ancestral primal perspective it makes sense. Animals are significantly more nutrient and caloric dense than plants and grains and so they would have been what we chose to eat the majority of the time. They would have eaten the whole animal too. The best way I’ve heard it described is that plants were survival food. We ate them when we needed something to survive but it wasn’t the food that our bodies needed to thrive. Our brains doubled in size from that of a chimp because of the animals we consumed. But there’s still this part of me that is waiting for the other shoe to drop. We have always been told vegetables are healthy and to eat as many as possible, but what if for some people they are causing problems?
Everything I’ve learned has driven me to eat more nose to tail. There’s this part of me that wants to try carnivore for 30 days. Maybe it’ll help my knee pain? (Which could be auto immune, unlikely but it is a possibility). Maybe it’ll help my body clear histamines (and therefore help my allergies). I also just like trying things to see how my body reacts. But, there’s still a part of me that screams ‘but veggies!!!’. I definitely see how it can be a benefit for those who are struggling with auto immune, food sensitivities, skin issues, and IBS. It’s the ultimate elimination diet. How necessary is it though to be that restrictive for most people? I’m honestly not sure yet. It does make an argument for really examining the research around vegetables 🤔
If you’re interested I suggest checking out the doctors I mentioned and seeing what they have to say. Here are a few more people if you’re interested in this topic: Dr Georgia Ede; Amber O’Hearn; Mikhaila Peterson; Carnivore Aurelius; and strong.sisters on Instagram.
What are your thoughts?!
I’ve included this chart by Carnivore Aurelius so you can see the names of toxins, what they are in, and the effect on the body!