Inflammation

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How You Can Live a Better Life Through Eating the Carnivore Diet!

So you want to know how to improve your life through a carnivore diet? I’m thrilled to share with you the fantastic facts that I’m learning.

What is the Carnivore Diet?

If you’ve never heard of the carnivore diet, it is simply a diet of animal-based foods, rather than foods from the plant kingdom. If it came from an animal, you can have it, if it didn’t, you can’t have it.

Animal-derived foods are included as well, such as beef or chicken broth, caviar, butter, and cheese. Milk is not usually consumed on carnivore, however.

Some people find they do better without cheese. It may slow down weight loss, or cause congestion. If it does, just eliminate it.

Seafood and shellfish can be on your diet too. I have found that I want less of these as I progress on carnivore. At this writing, I am over a month into it. And I love it! More on that below.

What Are the Benefits of the Carnivore Diet?

Weight loss is probably the number one reason people come to the carnivore diet. For those who have a ‘broken metabolism’ and struggle to lose weight on low carb, or keto diets, carnivore is a godsend. I found that my cravings for carbs or just extra food (like a handful of nuts) stayed alive unless I dipped below 10 grams of carbs per day.

After living on that level for a few weeks, I realized that I was almost at carnivore anyway! I decided to take the plunge and see for myself if it was as miraculous as they say.

I think this the very best way to get on the carnivore diet. By cutting down to Very Low Keto, or Ketovore first, you’ll find it very easy to make the switch to zero carbs – it will be a piece of cake. (Sorry!)

Well, this is where I say it is easier to list the non-benefits of the carnivore diet because the benefits list is a mile long! We could literally be here all day, so I’ll just include some of the major ones.

Here are a few of the improvements patients have reported:

I’d like to mention just a few more:

Thyroid problems vanish, ADHD subsides, and both children and adults become calm and focused. Children should be slowly weaned off sugar and carbs onto the ketogenic diet first, and then onto carnivore, if necessary, until their symptoms subside.

Elderly people can improve their mental faculties and regain memory:

“Ketone bodies, which are produced naturally by the human metabolism in the absence of glucose or reduced presence of glucose, have a neuroprotective impact on aging brain cells. Ketones improve mitochondrial function and reduce tissue inflammation. This reduced inflammation also improves digestion and autoimmunity, so can also maintain healthy brain tissue.” – Coach Elizabeth B., carnivore.diet

At any age and stage, people find their brains become sharper and more focused. No drugs needed!

High blood sugar damages the brain because the brain cells develop insulin resistance as well as the rest of the body. This leads to impaired ability to regulate metabolism, as well as impaired cognition and mood.

So many illnesses and chronic conditions appear to be the result of one root cause: The Wrong Human Diet.

The Carnivore Diet Meal Plan

Here I’d like to include a sample menu so you can see what a day on carnivore might look like:

  • 1st Meal of the Day: Eggs in butter, any style, with bacon. Coffee with butter and salt. No sweeteners.
  • 2nd Meal of the Day: Tuna fish or salmon patties, made with canned fish well mixed with an egg and fried in lots of butter. Salt to taste. Water, tea, coffee. No sugar substitutes.
  • 3rd Meal of the Day: Ribeye steak, burgers, and/or hot dogs. Cheese is optional. Zero carb beverage such as sparkling water.

Notice anything? That’s right! There are no limits on how much you may eat at a meal. Eat till full is the rule! Another rule is to eat fatty meats. In the case of fish, you can add fat using butter or bacon drippings.

It seems Carnivarians usually end up feeling so full that they drop one of these meals after a short while on the diet. It is so easy to do intermittent fasting with carnivore, it just happens naturally.

A Carnivore Diet Food List

Here is a list of the foods you can choose from:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Venison
  • Bison
  • Elk
  • Organ Meats
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Animal Fats
  • Cured Meats, no added sugar, carbs, or MSG
  • Bacon
  • Hot dogs
  • Fresh or Canned Fish
  • Seafood and Shellfish
  • Deli Meats and Sausages
  • Jerkies and Meat Sticks, no carbs, no MSG
  • Pork Rinds, plain, no sugars, no MSG
  • Caviar
  • Meat Broths
  • Butter
  • Cheeses, low carb (keep to a minimum)

Nothing sweet is allowed but use as much salt as you like.

If any food disagrees with you, just leave it out. This is sometimes called an Elimination Diet. You should pay attention to the effect foods have on your body and remove those that cause congestion, runny nose, indigestion, low energy, or other problems.

Note: You may have constipation or diarrhea in the first week as your body gets used to the new diet. Your gut microbiome will be changing over to its new environment. Extra fats in the diet may also cause loose stools. Don’t panic, just adjust accordingly and go forward.

The waste products from a carnivore diet are much less than from a plant-based diet. It is normal to pass stools two or three times a week. They’ll be much smaller too. Just another benefit!

Carnivore Diet Results

The results of a carnivore diet are ongoing. People report greater levels of healing the longer they stay on the diet. The first thing to go is the excess water (edema) your body was holding due to high sugar/glycogen levels. Carbohydrates cause the body to store extra water. When we eat carbs, the energy that we don’t use right away is stored as glycogen. Each gram of glycogen comes with three grams of water attached.

You can see this happening even in the first and second weeks. And less edema means lower blood pressure. In fact, you may want to supplement with electrolyte drops to replace potassium and magnesium, especially.

Weight loss is another measurable result even in the first week. It is so encouraging!

Inflammation throughout the body begins to fade away. As a result, all the chronic conditions associated with inflammation begin to resolve as well. Pain, sore joints, chronic headaches, skin conditions, bowel inflammation from plant lectins, and autoimmune disorders will heal according to case studies.

Mood disorders and low energy are replaced with a cheerful outlook and steady, even energy.

Yes, it sounds like the mythical magic wand, but its not. It is simply replacing a harmful diet with, as Dr. Ken Berry says, a Proper Human Diet.

Dr. Anthony Chaffee in a YouTube interview with Kelly Hogan made the following statement:

“95% of the results from the carnivore diet come from letting go of the last 5%” (of carbs, the old way of eating and drinking)

This is huge. As soon as you feel ready, go all in! Get those great results!

The healing will continue throughout the weeks and months. I’m into my second month at this point, and I have lost significant weight and inches; I feel younger and have great energy. I need less sleep. I’m more motivated and creative. Nails and hair are growing faster. Most people say they’re hooked after the first month, and I’m one of them! I can’t wait to see what will heal next!

One more thing … food no longer controls my body or my thoughts. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. Then I don’t think about food again until the next time I’m hungry. I’ve wanted this all my life: total freedom from cravings and food obsession!

Carnivore Diet for Mental Health

Yes. The carnivore diet heals mental health issues. From anxiety and depression all the way to full-blown schizophrenia. I know that’s a lot to say. But research proves it. The case studies and personal accounts are proving it. The evidence is stacking up in favor of carnivore: this diet heals the brain!

I first found Dr. Chris Palmer on an interview with Dr. Shawn Baker. Dr. Palmer, MD is a psychiatrist who received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine. He did his internship and psychiatric residency at McLean Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard School of Medicine. He is the author of a brand-new book called Brain Energy in which he teaches how ketogenic diets heal the brain from mental illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, depression, and more. His book is due out in November of 2022.

If you don’t know, any diet that puts you into ketosis is a keto genic diet. That covers Keto (20 grams or less of carbs/day) and Carnivore (zero carbs/day).

This is truly the high calling of the carnivore diet: the ability to heal the mind. It struck home with me because I have two family members who are afflicted with severe mental disabilities. Dr. Palmer’s mission is to spread the word and educate mental health professionals as well as everyday folks like us. We don’t have to live with these disabilities anymore!

I’m excited for the future by all the promise that the carnivore diet holds for people. I’m blown away by the incredible healing, both physical and mental, that eating a pure meat diet can bring. It will literally change our lives!

Truth About Kidney Health and Gout

People who are emotionally invested in avoiding protein often state that protein damages the kidneys, particularly when that protein comes from animals. Where did this theory come from? Not from studying humans. On the podcast I share with ultra-endurance world-record holder, Zach Bitter, I was talking with Dr. Stuart Phillips, one of the world’s leading protein experts, and we got into this topic. The misconception about this issue evolved from some work researchers did on rats, but no research on humans has ever shown the same results.
Protein doesn’t damage kidneys, but damaged kidneys tend to leak protein, which is something that contributes to the confusion about the relationship between protein and the kidneys. Many physicians have bought into this myth that protein damages kidneys even though the assertion has almost no scientific support. As with other misconceptions, you can look at the treasure trove of nutritional epidemiology and find some relationship between a high-protein diet and an increased incidence of kidney disease, but, as always, you have to ask the question, “Does it apply to all people in all situations?”
In my experience, people who eat a high-protein carnivore diet aren’t finding that their kidneys are compromised. I’m not saying that no one who follows the carnivore diet will ever have kidney problems; they can occur for many reasons. But I do not think that an all-meat diet causes kidney issues. I know of some cases where chronic kidney dysfunction has started to get better for several people.
Let’s put this in perspective. Humans evolved in an environment where eating copious amounts of meat was likely a common occurrence. We have several historical accounts of humans consuming very large amounts of meat, and those accounts show no evidence that the people experienced kidney problems. As I mentioned earlier, the explorers on the Lewis and Clark expedition were noted to have eaten as much as 9 pounds of meat per day. Modern-day competitive eaters have sometimes eaten more than 20 pounds of meat in one sitting without damaging their kidneys. If protein did indeed damage our kidneys, humans would not have made it this far through history.
Another common myth about the consumption of meat is that it leads to the development of gout. This perception goes back to the days when gout was considered a “rich man’s” disease. Because the financially well off were diagnosed with gout more frequently than the less affluent population, and the rich also were the people who could afford to eat meat, the assumption was that meat was the cause of gout. However, what do you think we find when we look at people who eat only meat? They don’t get gout, and if they had it before they start the carnivore diet, the gout generally clears up.
One of the beautiful things about a carnivore diet is that it tends to make some things crystal clear. You can wallow around in pointless epidemiology or use some questionably applicable animal studies to try to interpret something about the effects of eating meat, or you can take the simpler route and look at people who eat only meat. When we look at populations of meat eaters, such as the Maasai, Mongols, or Sámi, we see that there’s no indication that they were hobbled by gout. Today I routinely observe people with gout who go on an all-meat diet; for them, gout becomes a distant memory within months.
So, what about those rich dudes from a few hundred years ago? Why did they have gout? Because they had access to something that the common folk did not. Sugar! The wealthy also had more access to alcohol, and both sugar and alcohol are strong drivers of gout. The traditional view of gout is that it’s caused by an increase in uric acid because we can see uric acid crystals when we view gouty tissue under a microscope. I’ve taken care of plenty of gout patients over the years, and I’ve even removed large gouty tophi (which are basically giant blobs of crystal deposits in the skin that resemble toothpaste when cut open) from all parts of the body. None of my gout-afflicted patients has said he was a pure carnivore.
We know that purines form as food breaks down, and they can lead to increased uric acid production. Meat is often high in purines, and thus experts concluded that meat was the reason for the rich man’s disease. The problem is that most food leads to purines being produced, and high uric acid levels do not always lead to gout. As with all things, the path to gout isn’t a simple route. Is uric acid more of a problem when an underlying inflammatory state exists?
If so, what drives the inflammation? What about hyperinsulinemia (excess insulin)? Because of the complex system that comprises the human body, we have to look at issues like gout from all angles. Fructose is a vital component of table sugar, making up 50 percent of the sucrose molecule; the other 50 percent is glucose. We’ve seen that as fructose consumption goes up, the incidence of gout also goes up. Coincidentally, markers of inflammation and uric acid levels also rise as fructose consumption increases. Alcohol is another major contributor to higher uric acid levels. Like fructose, higher alcohol consumption tends to increase the incidence of gout.
One caveat is that if someone already has gout or is strongly predisposed to it, that person may experience a flare up during the transition phase into a ketogenic or carnivore diet. The flare-up is likely a result of a preexisting inflamed state combined with entering into a state of nutritional ketosis, or it’s because a transient uric acid elevation is a likely reason for the short-term occurrence of gout. After a person has fully transitioned to an all-meat diet, the gout generally subsides for good.

Excerpted from The Carnivore Diet, By Dr. Shawn Baker.
Learn more HERE

The Red Meat Cancer Risk Doesn’t Add Up

Some researchers have said that red meat leads to colon cancer. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed that red meat was a Class 2 carcinogen, and that processed meat was a Class 1 carcinogen, which puts it in the same category as smoking cigarettes in terms of the risk of developing colon cancer. The level of relative risk was around 17 percent for red meat and 18 percent for processed meat.<br>

Scientists from all over the world have criticized this proclamation for several reasons. Independent observers of the process that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) used to inform the WHO’s declaration have pointed out that it was not a consensus decision because approximately 30 percent of the participants disagreed. About 800 studies were considered, but only about 50 were deemed worthy of supporting the position that meat causes cancer; the other studies were thrown out for various reasons.<br>

Dr. Georgia Ede has done a remarkable job of sorting through the same data that the IARC cited, and she has determined that the evidence in support of the claim that meat causes cancer appears to be fairly underwhelming. You can find Dr. Ede’s critique at DiagnosisDiet.com, and it’s well worth reading. To summarize, her findings show that the vast majority of the data comes from epidemiology, which always lumps true meat eaters with those people who eat junk like burgers, shakes, and fries.<br>

Much of the other research was based on rat studies in which the animals were genetically bred to develop cancer, given a cancer-inducing drug, and then fed meat and some toxic rat chow. These types of studies are hardly applicable to a normal human being who eats a healthy diet that includes meat, and the studies in no way accurately represent the habits of a purely carnivorous human. Among those studies on rats and mice were a majority that didn’t support the hypothesis that meat causes cancer, and there even exists a study that concludes that bacon was relatively protective against colon cancer. Dr. David Klurfeld, who was one of the IARC panel members, has recently spoken out about the process. He was fairly concerned that contradictory evidence was dismissed and that a large percentage of the panelists were vegan or vegetarian but did not disclose that information on the review.<br>

Let’s assume that the weak evidence that the WHO used was sufficient to suggest a true relative risk increase in cancer of 18 percent. What does that mean? Well, the generally accepted lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about 4 percent. If the WHO is correct, that risk goes to 5 percent. In other words, based on the data that supports the WHO’s claim, there’s a whopping 1 percent increase in absolute risk. This is one of the classic statistical numbers games used to scare people from consuming something that someone doesn’t like for various reasons. As always, meat consumption is not the only factor in the risk of developing cancer; we also could look at things like hyperinsulinemia, abdominal obesity, and chronic inflammation (and we could paint a far scarier picture).<br>

As I see it, there are two possible approaches to the WHO’s decree: You can question the findings of the WHO because of the poor science backing them, or you can put the findings in context with other factors to determine your overall risk. People who follow a carnivore diet often report greatly improved insulin status, lower levels of abdominal obesity, and significantly reduced inflammation. When you put the whole package together, you find that overall risk for colon cancer likely falls for people on a carnivore diet. Remember—when we talk about associational data, you always should ask, “Does this apply to all people in all situations?” Rats that have been genetically bred to develop cancer and have been given a drug that promotes cancer shouldn’t chase down a bolus of toxic rat chow with a steak. Similarly, people who spend their lives eating sugar, vegetable oils, and refined grains and become insulin resistant and obese may want to avoid triple bacon burgers with a side of fries and a shake.<br>

In Asia, red meat and processed meat (whether cooked or raw) has basically no association with colorectal cancer. Is meat on that continent magically different than in North America? Not likely, especially because much of the red meat in Asia is imported from the United States. Do the Asians have special meat-resistant genes? That’s also not likely because when Asians emigrate to the United States, the likelihood that they’ll become sick and fat and develop cancer goes up. Instead, perhaps the higher incidence of colorectal cancer in North America has to do with the garbage that we eat with our meat rather than with the meat itself. (Note: Only about 4.5 billion people live in Asia, so I’m sure it’s totally fine to ignore their data.)<br><br>

Excerpted from The Carnivore Diet, By Dr. Shawn Baker.<br>
Learn more HERE

Plants Are Out to Poison You!

Plants have been on the planet for roughly 700 million years, and they have been successfully fighting off various fungi, insects, and other animals since well before humans arrived some 3 million years ago. Plants have developed all kinds of defense strategies to ensure the survival of their species, including a system of elaborate chemical defenses. If you and I (or perhaps our ancestor, good ol’ Urk) were to go walking in the wilderness, and we started eating random plants, we would very quickly find ourselves either very sick or dead.
Of the approximately 400,000 species of plants on Earth, only a tiny fraction are edible by humans. Among the edible plants, typically only a portion of the plant is safe to eat; the rest is often harmful to humans. Even today, plant poisonings are still relatively common events.
Most of the produce that we see in the supermarket has absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the plants that would have been available to our ancestors 50,000 years ago. Cruciferous vegetables basically didn’t exist, and our ancestors would have avoided leafy greens because of their extremely bitter taste. Tubers and other starchy “underground storage organs” were not particularly tasty and would have been primarily composed of fibrous, tough material. Nuts and seeds are well-protected physically by a tough outer shell or more subtly by toxic chemical defenses. Unprocessed nuts or beans can be among the most deadly plant-based foods around. Plants are especially protective of their offspring. The fruits we eat today have been manipulated to the point that prehistoric people wouldn’t recognize them.
We know that plants are full of chemicals, many of which serve as pesticides. If we had to introduce those same natural plant pesticides to the market today and subject them to rigorous toxicity testing, many of those chemicals would not be allowed on the market. However, because there is no real regulatory organization that examines “natural substances” in food, we tend not to worry about it.
I’m not saying that researchers have never studied these naturally occurring plant compounds in everyday fruits and vegetables. In fact, there are numerous studies on this topic. In 1990, famed toxicology researcher Professor Bruce Ames investigated the use of pesticides in food production and compared manufactured pesticides to naturally occurring plant-chemical pesticides. Shockingly, Ames found that 99.9 percent of pesticides we consume by volume comes from plants themselves. When he examined some of these compounds in more detail, a majority were shown to cause cancer in animal models. We shouldn’t run away from all fruits and vegetables because of a potential cancer risk. However, it does show us that there are plenty of chemicals in the plant foods we eat, and many of them have a potentially negative effect.

Plants Waging Chemical Warfare
The list of chemicals found in the plants we commonly consume is extensive, and I’m not going to list them all. However, I’m covering some of the more common ones so I can talk about the potential and documented effects. Remember, researchers have studied many of these compounds in limited capacities, and we likely will never know all the potential interactions and issues that may be related to them. It’s also important to note that although a particular compound may cause a major problem in one person, another person may not experience any obvious issues.

Oxalates
Commonly found in leafy green vegetables, some fruits, nuts, seeds, and even French fries, oxalates are a pretty common antinutrient. They can lead to medical problems—particularly when people ingest them in higher doses. One of the most common issues is kidney stones, which often are comprised of oxalates. Oxalate crystals in the body can become very needlelike, and some research has associated them with gastrointestinal irritation. The crystals may lead to leaky gut syndrome and potentially can lead to autoimmune issues.

Lectins
Lectins, recently made popular by Dr. Steven Gundry’s book, The Plant Paradox, are a fairly ubiquitous plant compound, but they’re particularly concentrated in things like grains, nuts, corn, quinoa, fruits, nightshades, vegetable oils, legumes, beans, and squash. The trouble with lectins is that they can lead to a leaky gut situation and likely contribute to all the potential downstream effects of leaky gut.

Glycoalkaloids
Glycoalkaloids are in nightshade plants like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. Limited evidence suggests these compounds have a connection to leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune problems like psoriasis. The foods that contain glycoalkaloids—particularly the nightshade vegetables—have been reported to worsen symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Goitrogens
Goitrogens are substances that can interfere with the function of the thyroid. Thyroid dysfunction is particularly common among women, and some researchers believe that high amounts of goitrogen-containing foods may play a role. Foods like soy and cruciferous vegetables tend to be high in these substances. Perhaps all those years of forcing ourselves to choke down broccoli and cauliflower were not kind to our thyroids.

Cyanogenic Glycosides
Cyanogenic glycosides are in common foods like almonds, flaxseed, linseed, lima beans, cassava, and certain stone fruits (such as cherries, peaches, and plums). Cyanide poisonings can and do occur, commonly with consumption of cassava root; sometimes death is the result of poisoning. Chronic exposure to cyanides is postulated to contribute to chronic diseases such as impaired thyroid function and neurological disturbances.

Phytic Acid
Phytic acid is in grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes. It can lead to mineral deficiencies, particularly deficiency of zinc, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Deficiencies in these minerals can lead to a host of potential problems, including heart disease, depression, infertility, impotence, hair loss, and compromised immune function. On the beneficial side, phytic acid has been shown to lower blood glucose and potentially lessen the formation of kidney stones.

Protease Inhibitors
Protease inhibitors are in most legumes, particularly soy; cereals; fruits such as kiwi, pineapple, papaya, bananas, figs, and apples; and vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The protease inhibitors interfere with the activity of enzymes involved with protein digestion, such as trypsin, and in animal studies, they have been shown to lead to poor growth in subjects. Conversely, there is some evidence to show these compounds may have a positive role in limiting cancer.

Flavonoids
Flavonoids, which are responsible for some of the pigment found in plants, are commonly found in citrus fruit, cocoa, blueberries, parsley, onions, and bananas. They’re potentially beneficial at low levels, but in higher doses, they’ve been noted to cause genetic mutations, oxidation that leads to free radical production, and inhibition of hormones.

Saponins
Saponins are in legumes, beans, garlic, alfalfa sprouts, peas, yucca, and asparagus. They have been shown to cause digestive disturbances, thyroid problems, and damage to red blood cells. Fun stuff indeed!

Salicylates
Salicylates are in many fruits and vegetables and some spices. They’re often responsible for sensitivity reactions that can trigger asthma, gut inflammation, and diarrhea.
Humans survived an Ice Age, which means our ancestors’ habitat was like Iceland, not Costa Rica. If we’re willing to set aside our arrogance about how much we think we know and apply some commonsense observations, we can see how impractical a diet full of indigestible fiber and nonessential phytonutrients is. We need fat, protein, and some vitamins and minerals. We require no other nutrients to live or—I’ll argue—to thrive. We require zero carbohydrates, zero phytochemicals, and zero fiber.

Excerpted from The Carnivore Diet, By Dr. Shawn Baker.
Learn more HERE

Getting Hung Up on Health Markers

Often when people follow some form of a low-carb diet, they focus on monitoring certain things through blood testing to get some insight into the effects of diet. Blood testing provides some data and often can help to troubleshoot problematic health issues. Before I get into some of the common observations that I’ve made about carnivore dieters, let me put some things into perspective.

When you have your blood drawn, its contents are representative of what is being transported via your blood during that exact moment in time. Many, if not most, of the things that can be measured in the blood can change on a weekly, daily, hourly, and even momentary basis. For instance, blood cholesterol can change dramatically over a few days, hormones can change by the hour, and liver enzymes or inflammatory markers can go up or down based on recent activity or exercise levels. Lab values can be significantly affected by many things, including stress, sleep, illness, activity, exercise, weather, temperature, time of day, and time of year. So, trying to attribute any one particular laboratory reading exclusively to diet can be problematic.

Just as the nutrition science–based food recommended daily allowances were based on a population that was arguably sick from eating a high-carbohydrate, grain-based diet, many of the common laboratory reference ranges were based on that same population. We truly do not have a good set of reference ranges for the populations who follow the low-carbohydrate and carnivore diets. With this in mind, I want to share some of the areas where labs for carnivore dieters can diverge from the general population.

Blood Lipids

Blood lipids probably cause the most concern for both patients and their physicians. First of all, blood lipid levels are dynamic; they can vary fairly significantly over a matter of even a few days. Your total cholesterol on Wednesday may be remarkably different the following Tuesday. Let’s assume that the numbers you get represent a daily average. (However, this assumption is likely false.) When we look at the lipid number for a carnivore dieter, we often see elevated total and LDL cholesterol; this is not always the case, and often LDL/total cholesterol will be largely unchanged or even lower.

Another common finding among carnivore dieters is a general trend toward elevated HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, and generally lower triglycerides. In general, higher HDL and lower triglycerides are thought to represent an improvement in cardiovascular risk, but this is not absolute, particularly regarding the HDL. As I’ve already mentioned, it’s important that you realize that large energy shifts and weight loss can be responsible for unexpected numbers, such as higher than expected triglycerides, particularly at the beginning of a transition to the carnivore diet. I often suggest that people wait six months or more before getting routine labs after starting the diet, unless there’s a compelling reason to do it earlier, such as to address an illness.

Glucose

Glucose control is important, and generally speaking, a carnivore diet tends to lead to very well-controlled glucose numbers. If you’re going to talk about glucose, then you definitely need to be aware of your insulin status. When you look at a blood glucose reading in isolation, you leave out a major part of the story of blood sugar control, potential diabetes, and other chronic disease risks. If you’re going to worry about heart disease, insulin sensitivity is one of the most important modifiable risk factors you can be concerned with. It’s right up there with smoking, and it’s far more important than relative cholesterol levels. You can use a fasting insulin level with a fasting glucose level to calculate something called a HOMA-IR score, which is one of several reasonable measures of insulin sensitivity.

In general, a carnivore diet tends to lead to improved insulin sensitivity over the long term. Glucose tends to remain stable for people on the carnivore diet because the glucose the body is using is not being ingested; it’s being produced mostly from protein, a small amount of fat, and a few other sources, such as lactate, via a process generally described as gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is probably the most precise way to control glucose regulation, and in the long term, it leads to well-controlled and stable blood glucose numbers. People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes also note that in the long term they tend to see excellent blood glucose control, although it may take a few months for the level to normalize.

Liver Function

Liver function studies tend to be normal for people on the carnivore diet, and the assumption that increased protein is damaging to the liver is based upon a fallacy. NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) is an increasingly common diagnosis. Fortunately, we know from observations of carnivore populations and by extrapolating data from low-carbohydrate studies that a carnivore diet tends to improve this problem. Liver function tests can be slightly elevated for several reasons, and if you’re having them evaluated, you should be aware of benign reasons for their elevation. One of the more common reasons is recent intense exercise, which can result in slight elevations of these enzymes for up to a week.

Inflammation

In a similar vein, markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, can show a transient elevation after exercise or other acute stresses on the body. This marker and other inflammation labs can be used as risk factors for predicting cardiovascular or other disease potentials. Once again, it appears that a carnivore diet tends to lead to low levels of inflammatory markers.

Kidney Function

Kidney function is often a concern with higher protein diets, but the concern stems from data from animal studies that haven’t been replicated with humans. In general, the consensus is that high-protein diets do not damage kidneys. Some people still are concerned that an already damaged kidney will fail more quickly in the presence of higher levels of protein, but that data is tenuous at best. We have some reports of improved renal function in people who’ve followed a carnivore diet. If you have compromised renal function and are concerned that consuming too much protein while on a carnivore diet might be problematic, it’s worth your effort to track the function over time.

Hormone Levels

Thyroid function is generally improved on a carnivore diet, and we have observed improvements in autoimmune-related issues such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. One interesting thing to note is that thyroid hormone, particularly T3 levels, may seem to be low, but the clinical function is noted to be good. This likely represents a decreased requirement for circulation of the hormone or an increase in receptor sensitivity. Therefore, you should not need a supplement in the absence of a clinical need.

Similarly, when people follow a carnivore diet, reproductive hormones tend to normalize and function optimally. It becomes very important to consider clinical function as we assess particular hormone levels. Both men and women note improvements in libido and clinical testosterone function when they follow a carnivore diet, particularly after they’ve moved beyond the adaptation phase.

Iron Levels

Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiency problems in the world, and a carnivore diet is undoubtedly the most efficacious way to prevent that problem because it’s tremendously high in bioavailable heme iron. On the other hand, too much iron, particularly when stored in excess quantities in the tissue, has been associated with some health problems, such as diabetes, cardiac disease, or liver disease.

Fortunately, excess iron levels don’t seem to occur to any significant degree on a carnivore diet. It’s likely that underlying metabolic disease and inflammatory states contribute to excess iron storage. In general, a carnivore diet tends to improve those conditions, and that may be the reason why high storage levels as assessed by serum ferritin don’t seem to be a problem, even though carnivore dieters have a relatively high iron intake.

Miscellaneous Health Markers

In general, you can expect both red and white blood cell counts to fall within the normal ranges. However, you may see slightly lower white blood cell counts, which may be associated with a generally lower inflammatory state. Levels of serum electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium, tend to be normal. Our bodies do a pretty good job of maintaining these in fairly narrow physiologic ranges.

Some people express concern that a carnivore diet can lead to an acidic environment, but our blood pH is aggressively controlled and very tightly regulated. As long as we have functioning lungs and kidneys, we can keep our blood pH right where it needs to be regardless of dietary input.

The concerns about acids leaching minerals from our bones for buffering purposes are unfounded. Higher protein diets ultimately lead to better long-term bone health, especially because our bones are approximately 40 percent protein.

Excerpted from The Carnivore Diet, By Dr. Shawn Baker.
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