Can Bone Broth Be Used as Part of a Zero Carb Diet?

Bone-Broth-3

I have received a lot of flack in the Zero Carb community Zeroing in on Health (ZIOH) from many long time veterans of the Zero Carb diet who run that group. Now please, don’t get me wrong, I still love and appreciate much that this group has to offer, I just feel that their vehement opposition to me discussing bone both is a wee bit ridiculous. I mean, it is from the animal kingdom, right? So what exactly is the big deal?

First, it is important to understand that – with one exception – none of these long term Zero Carb vets have ever made and consumed bone broth as part of their Zero Carb way of life. Their main concern is that people new to the Zeroing in on Health group who read glowing reports about bone broth by the likes of me will be misled into thinking that bone broth is necessary for long term health on a Zero Carb diet.

However, if a person takes the time to read my very detailed description of The Zero Carb Diet, or the excellent FAQs document written by the ZIOH administration, then they won’t be the least bit confused. But unfortunately – as much as I would like to – I cannot make people read. Some folks just want 30-second sound bites and there is nothing I can do about that.

I have actually been accused of saying that bone broth has “magical healing properties.” I certainly I have noted that it contains specific properties shown to help heal specific health problems. But I have never called it “magical.” It may have healing properties, but there is nothing magical about them. Rather, it is pure nutritional biochemistry, as you will discover if you decide to learn more about it.

But, one could just as easily be misled into thinking that eggs are a necessary component of a Zero Carb diet since they are extolled almost every day by someone in the group. However, as The Andersen Family has clearly shown, eggs are definitely not necessary for long term health on a Zero Carb diet. They have been eating only ribeye steaks for almost 2 decades and are thriving.

And, as many Zero Carb-ers have discovered through experimentation with their own bodies, eggs do not agree with or benefit everyone who follows a Zero Carb diet. The Andersen’s found that pretty much everything except fatty beef made them feel less than well. The only way that any of us can figure out what works best for our individual bodies is through trial and error. There is no one way or right way to do this diet.

The basic Zero Carb Guidelines are to eat only from the animal kingdom, which is quite broad in certainly would include bone broth. If you wish to reduce the variables, many Zero Carb veterans recommend  eating only meat (preferably beef) and water for the first 30 days. This way you will have a baseline from which to test other animal foods like dairy, eggs, and organ meets. I personally support this advice because people rarely react negatively to meat, especially beef.

So, when a person first embarks upon a Zero Carb way of eating, the less variables the better generally speaking. Bone broth is certainly a variable, and not everyone does well with it. In Nourishing Broth, Kaayla Daniel explains that some people who are sensitive to MSG have trouble with the high level of glutamine present in bone broth because the glutamine gets turned into glutamate and crosses the blood-brain barrier creating unpleasant cognitive symptoms.

Glutamine sensitivity is most often experiences by children with Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, etc. For the majority of people, however, this is not an issue, but it is certainly important to be aware of the possibility. Like anything else, you just have to try it and see how it makes you feel. After reading Daniels book devoted to the subject, I decided the potential benefits were well worth exploring. What I discovered is that I felt better when I included it in my diet. But again, this will not be true for everyone.

I noticed very quickly that on the days I drank bone broth, I did not get leg or foot cramps that night while sleeping or the next day. While on the days that I did not drink it, I did. It was a very cause and effect correlation for me. Many Zero Carb vets have stated that they tried everything (salt, magnesium, bone broth) to try and prevent their muscles from cramping, but that none of these measures had any positive effect.

And, yes, these are the same vets who have also stated that they “never have and never will” make and drink bone broth, so I am not to sure how many of them actually tried bone broth specifically to address the muscle cramps they were experiencing. I am, admittedly, a little confused by their contradictory statements.

And even if they did try bone broth without experiencing any noticeable difference, then I would want to know how much bone broth they drank each day and for how long. If you are deficient in a mineral, it not only takes a certain amount of that mineral, but it often takes more than a day or two for the cells to get it where it needs to go.

Muscle cramps are a very common experience in the initial weeks and months of a Zero Carb diet. One of the main symptoms of a potassium deficiency is muscle cramping. When a person first begins a Zero Carb diet, a lot of excess fluid is flushed from the body and a significant amount of potassium is lost in this process. I have explored this phenomenon more fully in my page on The Adaptation Process.

There is nothing especially dangerous about this because it is self limiting. Once a person’s metabolism and kidneys make the transition from being a sugar burner to being a fat burner, you stop losing excess fluid and your mineral balance is restored. However, the interim period can be somewhat uncomfortable, and bone broth might help to ease the transition.

As it happens, bone broth is an especially good source of potassium, especially if there is some meat attached to the bones. I generally use whole chicken and turkey parts, mostly because that is what is affordable. But any meaty bones can be used: pork , lamb, beef, and even fish. It has certainly made a noticeable difference for me personally. But, I also drink an average of 2 quarts of bone broth every day, so this may be why I found it to be an effective remedy for muscle cramps compared to those who did not.

I also remove the fat from the broth after it has chilled and drink only the potassium-rich liquid. I do this so that the broth will not interfere with my appetite and so that I can drink more of it. It act like an sugar free electrolyte replacement beverage, i.e. Gatorade without the sugar. Interestingly, I have found that I do best drinking it on an empty stomach BEFORE a meal. If I eat it AFTER a meal, it will stop the meat in my stomach from digesting and I will be miserable for hours afterwards. I am not sure how it will affect you, but this is what I have learned about my own body. So you might want to pay attention to when you drink it and see if this makes a difference for you as well.

Many Zero Carb vets have argued that making bone broth is time consuming and difficult, but I have not found this to be the case for me. I put the bones in my crock pot, add water, let cook for 12-48 hours, and then strain. It takes me all of about 15 minutes. This is a lot less time that these vets spent ridiculing bone broth and those of us who drink it in a recent ZIOH post that generated 700 comments and continued on non-stop for almost two days! Really? Yes, really.

Okay, I will admit that the straining process is a bit messy, but that can easily be streamlined with the proper equipment. All in all, it is a small amount of work with a big pay off for me personally. Not only do I like the taste and the way it makes me feel, but the nutritional components present in bone broth are very beneficial for gut health.

With the exception of Joe Andersen’s wife Charlene, none of the Zero Carb veterans I have interviewed had serious gastrointestinal issues like I do. Most came to the Zero Carb way of eating for the purpose of weight loss. Therefore, while I deeply respect their knowledge of this diet, I also recognize that I have health issues with which they have no personal experience. I have problems that they cannot possible understand because they have never lived in my body.

And I know that I am not the only one in the group with these kinds of challenges. Many new people have joined the group and started the Zero Carb diet as a result of reading The Andersen Family interview after it was shared by William Davis on his Wheat Belly page and several other very popular sites. The people this interview has attracted are people with severe health problems like Charlene and myself, not people just looking to lose excess body fat.

While bone broth is certainly not necessary to long term health and success on this diet, it also holds the potential of being very beneficial for some like me. The one veteran who does use bone broth on a semi-regular basis is Ana Teixeira. Ana is an Ultra-marathon runner with unique needs due to her almost superhuman physical activities. We are all different, and we don’t all have the same needs. I believe it is import for this reality to be acknowledged and accepted.

This does not change the basic tenets of a Zero Carb diet: meat and water… meat and water… meat and water… meat and water. That is the most important principle of this way of eating to understand. Meat and water must form the foundation of a Zero Carb diet. Everything else must be seen as complimentary to that. In other words, one broth should not be used in place of meat any more than eggs or cheese should.

Meat is the corner stone; meat is the foundation; meat is the rock upon which everything else must be built. There is absolutely no question about that. For many, meat and water is all they will ever want or need on a Zero Carb diet, and that is perfectly fine. For others like myself, the extra nutrition provided by bone broth and other animal foods like liver are a welcome addition.

I really hope the long time vets of Zeroing in on Health can find it in their hearts to be more supportive of people with unique needs, instead of dismissing and ridiculing us as we walk our Zero Carb path to well-being. It is sad and – quite frankly – bizarre that a group of people dedicated to this way of eating would engage in behavior that is both demeaning to individuals and divisive of the community as a whole.

This way of eating offers promise to many people who have been struggling with serious health issue for many years. But they will not stay in a group – no matter how much it’s veterans have to offer in terms of their experience with this diet – if they are treated unkindly…especially over such a minor issue like bone broth. After all, Vilhjalmur Stefansson – whose work they promote above all others – drank broth throughout his year-long Meat-Only Bellevue Study and it didn’t seem to do him any harm. In fact, is it possible that he may have even benefited from it? Hmmm… I wonder…

If you would like to read about some of the unique nutritional properties present in bone broth, please see my Bone Broth page.

 

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My First 6 Months on Zero Carb by Mimi Brandt Anderson

Mimi Brandt

Mimi with her grandchildren.

I am a 54 year old a female who has lived an active life. I enjoy running, hiking, and gardening – both flowers and food. I began following a low carb high fat (LCHF) lifestyle in the late 1990s and was able to eat a wide variety of LCHF friendly foods.

I am a surgical nurse and I operate as part of a team specializing in open heart surgery. I work an average of 8 to 12 hours per day, 6 days per week. My work hours vary, day and night, and depend on when my skills are needed. My profession is very demanding and I need to be on the top of my game.

However, at the age of 50, I became sick. When I say sick, I mean I developed a chronic burning, stabbing pain in most of my joints. I never got a firm diagnosis, could have been Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, or Rheumatoid Arthritis. Whatever it was, it was most probably auto-immune in nature. I was in extreme pain virtually all the time. I would rate the pain level at a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10.

I felt so bad, I just couldn’t seem to shake the pain. I was forced to stop running. I consulted with several doctors who tried to prescribe anti-depressants for me. But, these medications provided no relief. I was only depressed because my life became riddled with intense chronic pain.

A year later, a new group of doctors I consulted suggested that I try a combination of Prednisone, Lyrica, and Narcotics. But nothing worked.  The only real effect of these medications is that I gained a massive amount of weight over the next few years. I continued to follow a LCHF diet throughout all of this, but it did not prevent me from gaining excess weight. The influence of the medications on my metabolism were just too strong.

Then, approximately 6 months ago, my gall bladder began to give me serious trouble. I strongly feel a person should keep their organs whenever possible, so I opted not to have my gall bladder removed. But now, I was fat, in constant pain, and truly sad every single day. However, I am a strong person, and somehow I managed to keep going by shear will power.

Finally, out of total desperation, I did a water-only fast for 5 full days. My gall bladder quieted down and the pain I was experiencing diminished significantly. Once I felt stabilized, I slowly began to add foods back into my diet one at a time, testing each item as I went.  I meticulously journaled all the foods I ate, and as I added a food or condiment back in, I carefully observed the effect it had on my body.

What I discovered is that I did well with foods from the animal kingdom, but not so well with foods from the plant kingdom. I have been eating beef, chicken, salmon, sardines, mackerel, shrimp, and eggs. I eat about 1 lb. of meat per day. I do not eat any dairy products or spices because they make me feel unwell. The only thing I use for seasoning is pink Himalayan rock salt.

I was fascinated by the way my body responded negatively too all plant foods and so I started searching the internet for answers. I found the collections of comments that Owsley Stanley (a.k.a. The Bear) had made on a now-defunct low carb forum. And from there, I discovered the Zero Carb diet and, eventually, the Facebook group Zeroing in on Health.

After three months of eating only meat and drinking only water, I had some bloodwork done. I had lost weight and all my tests came back great. Now, after 6 months on Zero Carb, I am still losing weight by combining Zero Carb with intermittent fasting. I do not force myself to fast; rather, I fast naturally because I have no appetite. I let my hunger guide me.

My life is amazing once again…

  • I am off all medications except for an occasional guaifenesin after a long day.
  • The pain level has been significantly reduced. (3 on a scale of 1 to 10.)
  • I have no more brain fog and better mental clarity.
  • The quality of my sleep has improved substantially.
  • I am much more mentally balanced and even tempered.
  • I feel light-hearted and happy most of the time.
  • My energy has returned and I am actively keeping up with folks half my age.
  • I have lost 65 lbs since starting Zero Carb (from 228 lbs down to 162 lbs).
  • I have finally been able to start running again, too, which I love.

Zero Carb has literally saved my life!

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 Charles Washington in his Facebook group Zeroing in on Health or Michael Frieze in his Facebook group Principia Carnivora for guidance and support. These two groups use different approaches, so if you find that one does not suit you, please check out the other one.

My Zero Carb Experience with Lyme Disease by Alison Lyons

alison lyons

When I first went to the gastro with all my stomach issues and food intolerances, they tried to get me on a FODMAP diet. I was like…. uh, I just told you everything but meat makes me inflamed and sick and you’re telling me to eat a diet of nothing but the foods that make me inflamed and sick? Needless to say I didn’t return back to any of those doctors.

Zero Carb is really the only way my Lyme stays under control and allows me to be pain free. But I’ve struggled against eating an all-meat diet for years because of all the pressure I have received from doctors and family to keep trying to get plant foods back into my diet. Additionally, I did not know another single person who was eating an all-meat diet, so I felt very alone, isolate and unsure about the path my body was telling me to follow. As a result, I was pretty miserable.

Since finding the Zero Carb group Zeroing in on Health on Facebook (through The Andersen Family interview that a friend shared with me), my mindset has completely flipped. I have stopped fighting it. I now realized that I need to just listen to my body and eat the way it responds best and tell all my doctors and family to just accept that this is the way it is.

My god what a difference all this has made – less pressure from those around me, making friends with other people who eat like me, knowing I’m not alone anymore. I know it sounds melodramatic, but stumbling across the Zero Carb community, and all these people that follow a diet free of plant foods, has literally saved my life on every level (emotionally, psychologically, and physically).

Over the years that I have been struggling with this, I have attempted to add other foods back in periodically (mostly because those around thought I should), but every plant food I tried would cause a negative reaction (burning in my small intestines, morbid bloating, headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure).

By October 2013, I decided in earnest that I needed to just stick with meat and stop trying to please others around me. However, I recently got derailed yet one more time when my nutritionist encouraged me to try eating some blueberries. Unfortunately, this little experiment caused me SEVERE pain and cause many previously dormant symptoms of the Lyme bacteria to rear their ugly head.

Up to this point, I hadn’t had carb/sugar cravings at all for quite a while. But once I tried those blueberries, my brain chemistry just went bonkers from the fructose, and I immediately began to experience HUGE carb/sugar cravings. For the next few weeks, I found myself unable to resist my desire for more fruit and I just got sicker and sicker. I finally got a grip on myself, and I am now back on track and eating only meat again. The cravings are almost completely gone, and – once again – I am feeling so much better.

At this point, you might be wondering how long have I had Lyme Disease, and how did I arrive at an all meat diet? Well, when I was about 8 years old, I was bit by a tick. I got the classic EM Lyme rash (massively, it took up the entire inside of my right thigh). When my mom finally noticed it, she panicked and took me to the doctor.

This was Texas in the 1980’s, though, and the doctor told her that the rash did look exactly like the EM Lyme rash, but it couldn’t possibly be that because Lyme didn’t exist in Texas! I remember my mom arguing with him about why we vaccinated our dogs for it, but in the end he refused to send us home with the antibiotics used to treat it in the early stage of an infection.

My mom is a health nut, so I wasn’t allowed much sugar at all while I was growing up. No sodas, no candy, and it was very very rarely that I was allowed desserts. We ate mostly baked chicken, rice, and veggies. I played a lot of sports, and I did well in school. There was very little stress in my life throughout this time, so my immune system stayed strong enough to keep the Lyme bacteria in dormant state.

Around the age of 27, I began working at an insanely stressful job (a newspaper with long hours and very low pay), and I suddenly started having some strange symptoms emerge. I was really into triathlons at this point and so I desperately tried to ignore the symptoms I was experiencing. I didn’t want to give up training and the races I was competing in.

Looking back, I’m astounded at my stubbornness and how I kept training for triathlons through all of that – it was mostly profound fatigue, headaches, and brain fog. I’ve always been an avid reader and usually average around 50 books a year, but that year all I could finish was 1. I thought I was getting adult ADD or something. All the fatigue and headaches I chalked up to the stress of my job. But, I didn’t yet realize that the stress was impairing my immune system and allowing the Lyme bacteria to thrive.

I finally found a new job and – on what was supposed to be my first day at that job – I went for my usual morning run. About midway through, I was attacked by a dog. Animal control never found the dog, so I was forced to agree to the rabies vaccine. That was the final straw for breaking down my immune system. After those rabies shots, my left arm went numb, then my left leg, then the left side of my face developed bells palsy. It got so bad that I couldn’t walk, which was insanely distressing for me being an endurance athlete. I had just finished my first MS150 (a race that raises money for Multiple Sclerosis research) only 3 months before and the first suspected diagnosis they had for me was MS. The irony made me sick.

An avalanche of other symptoms started, though, and tinnitus was one of them. I could hardly hear anyone because the ringing in my ears was so loud. Someone on an MS message board told me that MS and Lyme are often misdiagnosed for one another because the symptoms are so similar, but tinnitus is one symptom that is very Lyme-specific. As soon as I read the word LYME, my memory jarred back to my childhood and that tick bite. Found a Lyme doctor, got all the right tests and sure enough it was Lyme.

I was terrified of the high dose long course antibiotic treatment usually prescribed for Lyme. I didn’t want to damage my stomach, so I insisted on trying to treat the Lyme with an herbal protocol first. For a year I took about 160-200 pills a day and changed my diet (no fruit/carbs/sugars to feed the lyme and no gluten/nightshades/inflammatory foods) and sure enough it all started working. My immune system was beefed back up and able to repress the Lyme bacteria once again.

However, by the time my symptoms finally started to go away, I suddenly began having stomach problems. My stomach ballooned out and I looked 8 months pregnant. I had a lot of tests done and finally decided to try an elimination diet. I discovered that trace amounts of gluten were the culprit. So, I became more vigilant in regards to gluten and sure enough the pain and bloating in my stomach went away.

Then a few weeks later my stomach ballooned back out again. I did another elimination diet and added foods back in one by one and found dairy to be the problem this time. Removed all dairy, felt better for a few weeks, then bam… stomach ballooned out again. Took everything out, added it back in one by one and found soy to be the problem this time. This maddening cycle went on for about a year until I was down to eating only potatoes and sunflower seeds.

At this point, I had been a vegetarian for 14 years and was refusing to try to add meat back into my diet. But – because I was only eating potatoes and sunflower seeds – I was getting very deficient in nutrients and my kidney function began to decline. All my doctors finally cornered me and said that if I wanted to live then I was going to HAVE to eat meat again.

I started with chicken. My kidney function improved almost immediately and I started feeling better. I slowly worked my way up to adding beef and turkey back in to my diet as well. I actually started feeling good for the first time in years. But all of my family, friends, and doctors were still putting tremendous pressure on me to find out what was wrong with my stomach, encouraging me to take steps to heal it and heal it in order to get vegetables back into my diet.

So – even though I felt so much better on just meat – I kept testing out foods at their urging. “What about SEAWEED? What about THIS? What about THAT?” Everyone was constantly trying to think of something that might work and pressuring me to try it out. Eventually, I would succumb to their suggestion and I would ALWAYS react terrible to whatever it was this time. This process of testing different foods kept my body, and especially my digestive tract, in a constant state of inflammation. It was a nightmare.

Then I started reacting to some of the foods that – up to this point – had been safe… like chicken. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I started reading about how common leaky gut is with Lyme disease. I finally realized that I lost the ability to foods when I ate them too many days in a row or in too high of a quantity (anything over 10 oz in one sitting was problematic).

By the point I figured that out, though, I had already lost chicken, beef, turkey, pork, bison, and lamb. So for the last 2 years or so I’ve been eating mostly fish, duck, elk, kangaroo, and venison. If I stick only to those meats, and am careful about the amount I eat, and frequency with which I eat them, then I don’t become sensitive to them and I stay out of pain.

I’ve been working with a nutritionist to heal the leaky gut. Lots of probiotics / sauerkraut juice (can’t handle the fiber in the cabbage itself), colostrum, fish oils, enzymes, trace minerals, MSM, etc etc. We found that I also have a candida infection that could be adding to the leaky gut and food intolerances as well, so I was taking a lot of oregano oil and monolaurin, which are basically natural antibiotics/antifungals to kill off the candida.

I also have a few MTHFR gene mutations, so methyl b12 and methyl folate were added into the regimen at the end of last year. I was healing enough that I was actually able to very carefully rotate in a few small things I had developed intolerances to like lemon and lime. But I can only have a very small amount every few days.

With this small victory my nutritionist put pressure on me to test out berries. This was a huge, huge, huge mistake. Looking back I don’t know what he was thinking suggesting berries.  Yeah, the berries were an epic failure. I reacted horribly and my brain exploded on that sugar. I went completely crazy with sugar cravings.

I hadn’t realized how eating a meat-only diet had completely eliminated all of my cravings. I was desperately trying to add foods back in just because of the pressure from doctors and family around me, and because of the isolation of eating this strange way all alone… not because I desired any of those foods.

The cravings got so out of control that I found wholly myself unable to resist the urge for more sugar and started eating dates. I reacted horribly to them,and just eating a single bite would cause about 4-7 days of unbelievable pain. But I could not – for the life of me – seem to quit eating them. It was horrible. Up until now, the Lyme symptoms had been in complete remission for almost 3 years by adhering to an all-meat diet. But this little fruit escapade caused the Lyme bacteria to resurface with a vengeance, and all my symptoms returned. I was devastated.

However…It was in the middle of this mess that I stumbled across the interview on the Andersen family. I was so blown away to find someone who had been through such similar circumstances, but had managed to get it all under control with an all-meat diet.

When I began reading through the rest of Esmee’s blog where The Andersen Family interview was published – discovering that there were tons of people who ate a diet of meat only – I was so happy and so relieved to have found OTHERS eating this way that I nearly cried. The isolation I had felt for so many years because of my dietary restrictions had caused me much more suffering than the actual lack of plant foods.

With this discovery, a lot has changed for me in the last couple of weeks. I realized that I was busting my butt and breaking the bank to heal my stomach and for what? Because of the Lyme I will NEVER be able to eat fruit or other plant foods. For the first time, I feel free to just fully embrace being a blood-thirsty unapologetic carnivore. 😉

It is so much easier to eat only meat now that I have a little support group so-to-speak and now that I’ve sifted through so many of the supportive articles posted in the Zero Carb Facebook community Zeroing in on Health.

I have shared a lot of these new resources with my parents and best friend, and this has helped to relieve their minds as well. They have stopped putting so much pressure on me to try and add various plant foods back in to my diet. In fact, they have been reading so much material from Esmee’s blog that they’re starting to get a little curious about the benefits that Zero Carb might offer them as well.

So yeah. It has been one heck of a roller coaster. I was pretty distressed about the Lyme symptoms resurfacing, but now that I know I don’t need any plant foods to be perfectly healthy, I expect to be feeling much better very soon. Prior to the fruit binge, I had been eating only meat for quite a while and was feeling so good that I had been able to resume exercising, especially swimming, again. I am looking forward to getting back to that in the near future.

I’m fully on board with Zero Carb now since the berry debacle, and I finally realize that – for me – there’s no moderation with fruit or any other plant foods. Even a minuscule amount will cause me to go completely mad with cravings and pain. My doctor’s recommendations to constantly try various supplements, medications, and foods has only served to keep me in a state of chronic inflammation and pain. So, I’ve decided to do what is best for my body and just abstain from all plant foods from this point forward.

I’m still taking a few supplements like probiotics, enzymes, and herbs for immune support, but I’m done with adding any more new ones for now. I think if I stick with the supplements that I’ve already been taking safely for a few years now – and eat only meat and drink only water – the Lyme bacteria will go back into remission and may – over time – be completely eliminated from my body. Charlene Andersen’s story has given me great hope.

Thank you for listening and letting me share my story. Perhaps it will inspire others with Lyme to try a Zero Carb, All-Meat diet and see if it will assist them on their own path back to well-being.

alison lyons1

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.

Is An All-Meat Diet Really So Extreme?

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The Zero Carb interview I did with The Andersen Family was recently shared on the popular Facebook page Authority Nutrition. It generated several hundred comments from readers. Some of the comments were sincere and thoughtful, while others were down right ignorant and unkind.

Even though Charlene – the wife and mother of this lovely family – healed her very ill body from Lyme Disease, and then went on to produce two beautiful and very healthy boys, by adopting this diet 17 years ago, they were none-the-less criticized by many for their dietary choice. Apparently, even the hardest evidence is impossible to accept when one’s beliefs are in the way.

As long term Zero Carb carnivore Michael Frieze said in response to the general tenor of these comments, “People like to say what they think without really thinking.” Unfortunately, this observation is all too true, and I was probably guilty of the same kind of unthinking remarks myself at one time – being the former vegan that I was – before I decided to broaden my horizons and read beyond my comfort zone of beliefs.

One of the most frequent comments I heard from the readers of this post was that they felt an all-meat diet was too “extreme” and “unbalanced” and – by implication – therefore somehow “inappropriate” and “wrong.” There is a strong bias toward the idea of “moderation” in all things in our modern Western culture, and this perspective is often applied to the foods we eat.

But, as low carb doctor and scientist Stephen Phinney – author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living – has pointed out, it may be neither wise nor valid for us to apply “moderation” thinking to our diet, especially if we are sensitive or even intolerant to carbohydrates.

For example, when someone has a problem with alcohol, the treatment of choice is the complete elimination of all alcohol from the person’s diet. A moderate intake of alcohol is generally considered to be an incredibly dangerous and unhealthy practice for an alcoholic. Exiling it from one’s life is neither labeled as “extreme” and “unbalanced,” nor seen as an “inappropriate” and “wrong” approach to the problem.

As Dr. Phinney further argues,  “If consuming lots of carbohydrate provided some essential nutrient that would otherwise be lacking, then we might agree that a low carbohydrate diet is unbalanced or even extreme. But that’s clearly not the case. Think of it this way – what if you lived in California and planned a vacation in Hawaii. Would you believe someone who told you going that far was ‘extreme’, and therefore you ought to try flying just half way there instead? In this analogy, practicing this form of moderation would land you in seriously deep water. ‘Moderation’ and ‘balanced’ are meaningless terms when we are talking about ‘islands of safety’. And if your body is carbohydrate intolerant, eating a low carbohydrate diet is your island of dietary safety. Should a person with gluten intolerance consume moderate amounts of gluten so they can have a balanced diet? Of course not. Then why should a person with carbohydrate intolerance consume moderate amounts of carbs to meet some arbitrary criterion of a ‘balanced’ diet?” (p. 43)

So, why is the elimination of all carbohydrate-containing plant foods considered to be “extreme,” “unbalanced,” “inappropriate,” and “wrong” for people who feel less than well after eating them? Especially given the fact that humans evolved on an all-meat diet, as explained by Nora Gedgaudas in her book Primal Body, Primal Mind. (Please see my page on the Original Human Diet for a detailed explanation.)

In fact, examined through this lens, veganism is a lot more “extreme” for humans than an all-meat diet is because no human population in history has ever willingly eschewed all animals foods for any length of time. Many long-term vegans – like myself and Lierre Keith (author of the excellent book The Vegetarian Myth) – are discovering the negative health ramifications that occur as a result of avoiding all animal foods for years.

Another reason I find it odd that an all-meat diet is viewed as “extreme” by so many people is that a significant number of wild animals – that we are all familiar with – rely on a single type of food for their nourishment. For example:

Bison live almost entirely on prairie grasses.

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Koala Bears live almost entirely on Eucalyptus leaves.

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Panda Bears live almost entirely on Bamboo plants.

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Wolves live almost entirely on the flesh of other animals.

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And none of these animal’s diets are deemed “extreme” or “unbalanced” or “inappropriate” or “wrong.” Instead, it is widely understood that these animals evolved to eat specific foods and that these specific foods provide all of the nutrition required for optimal health in these animals.

Many a zoo keeper has discovered that if these animals do not -in fact – receive the foods they evolved to eat, they will become ill and unable to reproduce. Once the appropriate food is supplied to their captive animals, the animals in their care recover their health and reproductive capacity.

It is truly astonishing that human doctors seem completely incapable of drawing a connection between their patient’s food intake and their patient’s health or lack there of…but that is a different discussion altogether. Suffice it to say that veterinarians are quite a bit more advanced in this understanding.

Why should it be any different for humans who evolved to become the large-brained creatures that we are today precisely because of the very high fat, predominantly all-meat diet that we ate for Millenia? (For an interesting look at how our biological need for fat likely drove us to become the humans we are today see Man: The Fat Hunter by Miki Ben-Dor.)

We even have the example of several modern remnants of our hunter-herder ancestors such as the Arctic Eskimos studied by Stefansson (see The Fat of the Land) and the African Maasai studied by Weston A. Price (see Nutrition and Physical Degeneration) to show us just how healthy an an all-meat and animal foods diet can be.

From an anthropological, archeological, historical, and ecological perspective, an all-meat diet appears to be the most natural nutritional choice in the world for nourishing the human body and mind. The only thing extreme about an all-meat diet – as far as I can tell – is that is allows us to live extremely well.

 

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