Me & My German Shepherd Dog “Sasha”
I have explained a lot of the following details on my About Me page, but I feel it is important to include some of them here as well so that readers unfamiliar with my history may better understand just how much appreciation I have for discovering the Zero Carb, or All-Meat way of eating…
As some of you already know, my reasons for trying an All-meat diet have nothing to do with weight. I have been very sick for a very long time and most of my issues revolve around extreme food intolerance. Pretty much everything I put in my mouth makes me sick, and has done so for the better part of the last 20 years. I believe these troubles resulted from a combination of a gastrointestinal infection I acquired in India when I was 16 and the vegan diet (high in wheat) I chose to follow shortly there after. Both of these factors damaged the villi of my small intestine and lead to the manifestation of celiac disease, specifically the skin version known as dermatitis herpetiformis (a very itchy rash experienced by approximately 20% of those diagnosed with celiac disease).
Because I was ideologically committed to a vegan diet, the high fiber foods I ate (even after wheat was removed from my diet) continued to assault the already severely compromised condition of my small intestine. I gradually became sensitive to everything I ate and was miserable all of the time. I was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome based on the constellation of bizarre symptoms I experienced, and the fact that I was so tired most of the time that getting out of bed to take a shower took extreme effort.
I reached a low point in 2001, weighing only 87 lbs., and was sure that I was going to die from starvation. Out of desperation, I had tried adding animal foods back into my diet beginning several years earlier, but I was still eating lots of plant foods which continued to irritate my gut. But I was brain washed into believing that plant foods were necessary for health, so I persevered in my consumption of them.
I finally found a goat milk yogurt that did not make me feel horrible after eating it, and I ended up living on a mono diet of only goat milk yogurt and raspberries for 2 years straight. It saved my life. I then was able to move over to a diet of raw ground beef, olive oil, and leafy greens. I was still convinced that plant foods were essential to good long term health. This way of eating worked fairly well for another two year period. However, I started experiencing negative symptom from it more and more as time went on. I now know that this was due to an increasing intolerance to both salicylates (olive oil and greens) and histamines (aged beef).
I then went off on a crazy tangent of low fat vegan fruitarianism promoted by Doug Graham known as the 80/10/10 diet. I did this for another two years, but continued to feel even worse. I was continually in a state of sugar highs and lows, which made me irritable and angry a lot of the time. I was having trouble thinking straight, and I was painfully bloated all the time. Fortunately, this was around the time Dr. Robert Lustig gave his excellent presentation on fructose metabolism, explaining in detail why too much fructose is not a good thing. Please see his YouTube video SUGAR: THE BITTER TRUTH for the complete explanation.
So, my next dietary experiment was a low carb high fat (LCHF) raw vegan diet heavy on avocados and green leafy vegetables. This stabilized my blood sugar and kept my energy pretty steady. But I was still bloated all the time and experiencing other unpleasant symptoms from the food I was eating. Then, I was severely bit by a dog, and – between the antibiotics and the energy needed for healing – my digestive issues just got worse. The avocado salads just weren’t working anymore after that.
I eventually returned to goat milk yogurt and raspberries because I had no idea what else to do at this point. However, even the yogurt and raspberries didn’t work as well as they had in the past. Again, I now know that this was due to my increasing sensitivity to both salicylates (raspberries) and histamines (yogurt). Nevertheless, I remained on yogurt and raspberries exclusively for another full year. I experimented with rice before and after that, but all of it made me feel bad. While doing a 63 day green juice fast (using the only two vegetables low in salicylates: celery and lettuce) – which felt good, but was certainly not sustainable – I stumbled upon Jimmy Moore’s book Keto Clarity.
I had read about the Ketogenic diet many years earlier and knew that it was used to control seizures in epileptic children. I was intrigued at the time and even experimented with Atkins’ approach, but I was always including plant foods in my dietary trials, which I now realize was the reason I did not experience the benefits so many others did with this type of diet. As it turns out, I am not only sensitive to carbohydrates, I am also sensitive to salicylates which are present in almost ALL plant foods. As long as they were in the mix, any diet I tried was doomed to failure. The time I spent on goat milk yogurt and raw beef was the closest I came to removing most plant foods from my diet, but it still wasn’t enough. Please read my page on Salicylates for more information.
Jimmy Moore’s book re-kindled my interest in the Ketogenic diet and I proceeded to devour all of the podcast interviews he has done with Ketogenic diet scientists and doctors over the past 8 years. What a wealth of information he provides for free! I know many people in the Zero Carb community are off-put by Jimmy’s promotion of Keto “junk” or “Frankenfoods” as they like to call them. But for me, Jimmy Moore’s audio and video library was a lighthouse beacon of hope. I had no idea how much information was now available on the Ketogentic diet compared to when I first encountered it 20 years ago. For those who are interested, I have links to many of his best interviews on my Resources page.
Somehow, someway, through a path that can no long remember exactly, I found my way to Amber Wilcox-O’Hearn’s website on The Ketogenic Diet for Health, and then to her personal blog Empirica where she delineates her experience of eating a totally carnivorous diet for over 5 years. I was fascinated! I had no idea that was even possible. Yes, I knew about the traditional diets of the Inuit and Masai tribes, but their diets utilized many parts of the animals they raised or harvested from the wild. Amber was simply eating muscle meat without much in the way of organ meats, bone broth, etc. I wanted to know more, that was for sure.
Some anonymous person added me to the Facebook group Zeroing in on Health (ZIOH) started by long time Zero Carb veteran Charles Washington. I suddenly entered a whole community of people eating this way, many for over five years. Naturally, I had a few concerns about eating this way which were quickly answered and put my mind at ease. I had been on a Ketogenic diet for three weeks (started on December 7, 2014), but I was still eating some low carb plant foods like sauerkraut, leafy greens, etc. I was also eating animal foods like cheese and eggs, chicken and turkey, and sour cream. Even though I was in “ketosis” and feeling some benefits from this – mostly related to blood sugar stability – I was still having negative reactions to ALL of these foods.
Eventually, thanks again to Amber Wilcox-O’Hearn, I finally figured out that I was sensitive to histamines in the same way that I was sensitive to salicylates. Histamines are present in all aged foods. Ironically, most of the Keto-friendly foods I was eating were either fermented or aged and – therefore – high in histamines. Egg white are also high in histamines. So now I was ingesting both salicylates and histamines.
Every time I ate, I experienced severe GI bloating, hours of burping, a migraine headache, a racing heart rate, and low blood pressure that made standing upright for even short periods quite difficult. So, in spite of eating a Ketogenic diet, I was feeling quite miserable. Therefore, an All-Meat diet seemed like the next logical step to explore. I figured that if others have not just survived, but thrived, on Zero Carb for five or more years, then a 30-day trial certainly would not kill me. So, I began my carnivorous adventure on January 1, 2015.
However, what I soon discovered is that ALL meats sold in U.S. supermarkets are aged to some extent, either intentionally or by default, and – consequently – are high in histamines. Every type of meat I tried made me sick with all the symptoms described above. The only animal foods I could safely eat were raw egg yolks and heavy whipping cream, so I ate 2 dozen egg yolks and 16 oz of heavy whipping cream every night for the first month and a half while I worked to find a source of histamine-free meat. This felt like my only hope, and I was not going to give up.
I finally located some unaged fresh-frozen grassfed veal that produced no negative reactions. The difference in how I felt after eating it was truly remarkable. I almost felt like a normal person. Most people eat and feel good, but – for over two decades – my experience has been to eat and feel utterly bad (and when I say bad, I mean so bad that I often just wished I was dead). So, I knew I was on to something. I finally understood what the problem had been all these years, and this knowledge has moved me from a place of hopelessness to one of great hope. I finally have direction and know what I need to do.
After a month and a half, my source of veal ran out and I had to go back to the eggs and cream for a week or so until I located another source of histamine-free meat. I eventually found some local humanely-raised pork that could be processed within two days of being slaughtered. The company that sold this pork – The Meat Shop in Phoenix, AZ – also had beef that was only aged for 10 days (most beef is aged for a minimum of 21 and usually much longer by the time it reaches the retail shelf). I tried their beef, but – sadly – it still contained to many histamines for me to eat. Everyone’s tolerance for histamines is different, and mine appears to be zero, at least for now. Maybe, as the villi in my gut heals, I will regain my ability to properly metabolize histamines. That would be truly awesome and that is the vision that I hold for myself.
The pork, however, has been working pretty well. As soon as the animal clears inspection, the butcher processes it for me and freezes it immediately in order to stop the histamine formation as quickly as possible. I have been eating 1 lb. of ground pork with 4 oz. of butter once a day for the past month. Right now, I find that if I eat more than 1 lb. of meat at a time, or if I eat more than one time per day, I feel tired and inflamed. I am hoping that as my digestive system heals, I will be able to eat more meat and less added fat. Time will tell. Most women on this diet consume about 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. of fatty meat per day. But, for now, what I am doing is working pretty well.
The Zero Carb veterans generally discourage people from adding extra fat to their meat – unless it is super lean – because there are more nutrients in the meat than in the added fat, and too much added fat can cause some folks to gain unwanted body fat. Many people who come to Zero Carb from a Keto background often make the mistake of adding a lot of extra fat to their meat and then wonder why they are gaining weight. Since I was underweight to begin with, I was not overly concerned about this problem for myself.
In addition to the pork and butter, I also make and drink bone broth. I have personally found bone broth to be a very beneficial part of my transition to this diet. I believe it prevented some of the more severe symptoms that can occur during the initial period of metabolic Adaptation to a Zero Carb diet. None of the Zero Carb veterans that I have interviewed include bone broth in their diet, so it is clearly not necessary for long term health.
However, I strongly feel – based on my own experience, as well as the experience of others who are following a Zero Carb diet for complex health issues like me – that bone broth can be a real asset. My position on this subject, and my insistence on sharing my experience with others who are newly trying this diet, actually got me ex-communicated from the ZIOH fold. (Really? Yes, really!)
It is a long story and too complicated to try an explain here, but basically the Admins of that group did not like me promoting the benefits I have experienced from bone broth because they felt that I was somehow confusing people into thinking that it was an essential part of the diet, rather than just an optional addition. Perhaps I just have more faith and trust in the intelligence of individuals, and expect them to be able to read information and determine what the best course of action is for themselves, without needing others to make the decision for them.
Those of us who have chosen to include bone broth as part of our Zero Carb diet are at a complete loss to understand the ZIOH stance, especially since bone broth is clearly a food from the “animal kingdom.” I mean, it is not like we were singing the praises of Coke Zero or something, for heaven’s sake. I think the misunderstanding arises from the fact that none of the ZIOH Admins have ever suffered with the severe gastrointestinal issues or complex health problems that result from this. The only long term Zero Carb-er I have interviewed who had similar issues with food intolerances and might possibly be able to understand and relate was Charlene Andersen. But, she is not an active member of ZIOH. To read why I think bone broth can be beneficial for some people, please see my article Can Bone Broth Be Used as Part of a Zero Carb Diet?
After The Andersen Family interview went viral and was shared on William Davis’s Wheat Belly Facebook page and several other pages, ZIOH experienced an influx of many new members with Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and similar very severe illnesses. This was a completely different crowd than ZIOH had formerly attracted. Most people who get interested in Zero Carb do so for weight loss reasons. But that was not the case for many of the new people – arriving via The Andersen Family interview – checking out this unique way of eating.
It has been my experience that it is virtually impossible for someone who has not experienced these types of complex health and GI problems to understand even remotely what it is like. And to forbid us to talk about bone broth – which has been shown to be so helpful for people with these kinds of issues – in the group is not only totally ridiculous, but terribly short-sighted in my opinion. What is the point of being part of a group if we are not allowed to share information and experiences? They pushed a lot of people away from learning more about a diet that has the potential to significantly improve the lives of so many very, very sick people.
Fortunately, however, this is a mostly free internet world, and we (with the support of 5-year Zero Carb practitioner Michael Frieze) simply created a new group called Principia Carnivora for ourselves where everyone is free to openly discuss any and all ideas that we feel may be beneficial to us on our journeys back to well-being. We had almost 400 new members requests in just 4 days, so I guess that says a lot about the need for a group like this with a more relaxed and free-thinking environment. If this sounds like your kind of group, please come join us and check it out. Our main objective is to have fun while supporting one another.
So, I will just end by saying that while I personally enjoy bone broth and feel better when I drink it, this may or may not be true for you. Like eggs and dairy, bone broth is secondary in importance to meat on a Zero Carb diet. It is important to keep in mind that not everyone reacts to it the same way. A small percentage of people who are sensitive to MSG can turn the glutamine in bone broth into glutamate and experience all the same symptoms they do from MSG. This is most often seen in children with Autism, but it can happen in anyone with gut issues. The only way to know how it will affect you personally is to try it.
I drink 1-2 quarts of bone broth per day. I remove the fat so that it does not interfere with my natural appetite and hunger signals. Essentially, it is the Zero Carb version of an electrolyte replacement beverage. Many people find it really helps to prevent the muscle cramping that can occur during the Adaptation phase of beginning this way of eating. For more information, please see my page on Bone Broth.
The most significant benefits I have experienced so far include…
- Food Reactions – I no longer experience unpleasant symptoms after eating.
- Bloating – I no longer look and feel 6 months pregnant after eating.
- Blood Sugar – I no longer experience daily hypoglycemic episodes.
- Energy – My energy is now stable and steady.
- Teeth – My teeth are no longer sensitive.
- Hunger – I eat once a day and am rarely hungry in between meals.
- Cravings – I experience no carbohydrate or other cravings.
- Mental Clarity – I have greater mental clarity and focus.
- Mood – I am no longer irritable all the time.
- Outlook – I feel much more optimistic about life.
- Hemorrhoids – I no longer experience pain or irritation.
- Weight – I was underweight (95 lb) and am now at a healthier weight (120 lb).
- Blood Pressure – It has increased from 85/50 to 105/95.
- Skin – My skin has stopped breaking out with pimples.
- Nails – My nails are much stronger.
- Hormones – I no longer have menstrual cramps during my period.
- Headaches – I no longer have migraine headaches as long as I avoid salicylates and histamines.
- Shingles – The scar I have from this no longer tingles or itches.
- Sleep – My sleep quality has improved and I need less total sleep.
- Mornings – I no longer wake up feeling like I have a hangover.
As you can see, I have experienced quite a few positive changes in just 4 short months. The key for me in making this diet a success is to have a continual supply of histamine-free meat. I want to see if I can makes some histamine-free pemmican to serve as a back-up resource, as well as for travelling or day trips. I also plan to explore some therapeutic modalities, like DAO enzymes, which have been shown to assist the break down of histamines that are present in food. I am definitely happy with my progress thus far, and – as long as things keep moving in a positive direction – I fully expect to continue this way of eating indefinitely.
Please visit my Testimonials page to read the stories of others following a Zero Carb diet.
If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join us in the Facebook group Principia Carnivora for support.