Childhood Struggles with Anemia
Since I was a child I struggled with anemia that the pediatricians had no explanation for. I remained athletic nonetheless, competing in wrestling, tennis, and rugby, but I was always anemic and lacking in endurance. At the behest of my pediatrician I tried an iron supplement for a period of time even though my iron studies were normal. It did not occur to me or anyone else that diet could be related. My parents and I trusted that the creators of the food guide pyramid had our best interest in mind, thus I was raised on a low-fat, high grain diet. Our whole family was athletic and not overweight, but this diet seemed to affect me particularly negatively. No one else in my family was anemic.
College Years: Worsening Health and a New Diagnosis
My health worsened when I was in college when I suddenly had terrible joint pain and swelling in my hands and elbows. At the time I was muscular, weightlifting and competing on the University of Miami Rugby team. After visiting a rheumatologist, I was diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease with positive U1-RNP antibodies. I was put on hydroxychloroquine for immunosuppression. I was told this was a result of genetics, given my mom had the same condition – and died due to complications of immunosuppression. My curiosity began regarding this bizarre phenomenon of the body recognizing itself as “foreign” and attacking itself. This in part motivated me to go to medical school to learn more about the human body.
Medical School, Residency, and Carnivore
Many years later, after completing medical school and residency, I was still anemic and battling joint pain. In 2019 I was working on a gut microbiome research project at the University of Arizona. During that time, an undergraduate student mentioned to me how he had heard about an “all beef diet” on the internet, and people curing autoimmune disease. Having been thoroughly indoctrinated into medical culture, this sounded silly to me. I was firmly in the grasp of a vegetarian/pescatarian lifestyle. I ate fruit, corn chips, vegetables, and hummus daily, with an occasional can of sardines. My hemoglobin was steadily dropping along with my exercise tolerance, I was having worsening joint pain, and began having simple partial seizures. A rheumatologist then recommended starting stronger immunosuppressive therapy such as azathioprine. That’s when I remembered what the student had told me and I found the work of Dr. Shawn Baker and Paul Saladino. In 2020 very shortly after I started the strict carnivorous diet, strictly red meat and butter, I had nothing short of a miraculous resolution of my symptoms. Joint pain abated, normocytic anemia resolved within several months for the first time in my life, and seizures resolved.
Relapse and Return to Ketosis
After about 6 months, I was intrigued by Paul Saladino’s warnings against the safety of long term ketogenic diets and the benefits of eating fruit and honey. Regrettably I followed this advice over the course of the next 2 years. Although my autoimmune disease, joint pain, and anemia did not return, my seizures became more frequent and eventually more severe, requiring me to start taking Keppra, an antiepileptic medication. I didn’t think that the cause could be my copious consumption of sugary fruits and massive amounts of honey. I then began to read criticisms of this strategy by Dr. Baker and my respect for Dr. Saladino deteriorated with his incessant promotion of ridiculous, expensive branded organ pills. Since this past winter I gave up fruit and honey entirely, embracing a high fat, carnivore ketogenic diet. I’ve been consistently in ketosis eating zero carbohydrates, with commensurate steady improvement in seizures. I am almost off all seizure medications and feeling better than I ever have before. Recent publications such as Brain Energy by Dr. Chris Palmer have highlighted to me how important brain metabolism is for neurological conditions. I hope that no one else makes the same mistake and reaps all the incredible benefits of long-term ketosis through a carnivorous diet.
Results are not typical. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.