How does the Carnivore Diet impact health and the immune system?
The short answer is: it eliminates inflammatory foods.(Check out Part 1 for more details.) Let’s face it…any deviation from the Standard American Diet (SAD) will most likely impact your health in some way. By removing processed foods and providing our bodies with proper building materials (nutrients), we will notice improved function. After all, our body is simply a conglomeration of tiny factories called cells.
Autoimmunity: What is it and how could this diet help?
Autoimmune Disease is when our body’s defense mechanisms turn on us by attacking our very own healthy cells, tissues, and organs. These attacks cause symptoms like inflammation (redness, pain, heat, swelling, etc.).
Some commonly known autoimmune diseases are:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Psoriasis/Psoriatic Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis MS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Graves’ Disease
As stated previously in this article series, vegetables and grains contain defense mechanisms to ward off predators. So how do these toxins impact human health? Here are a variety of ways lectins, oxalates, and phytic acids disrupt normal function.
- Lectins are a type of protein that bind to carbohydrates. These proteins are found in legumes (peanuts, cashews, soybeans, red kidney beans, etc.), nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, etc.), corn and grains. Research indicates this binding mechanism “can cause nutrient deficiencies, disrupt digestion, and cause severe intestinal damage when consumed in excess by an individual with dysfunctional enzymes. These effects are followed by disruption of intestinal barrier integrity, which is the gateway to various autoimmunities.”
- Oxalates (Oxalic Acid) are a type of organic compound found in leafy greens, some fruits, cocoa, nuts, seeds, and a few other veggies (broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, etc.). This is another plant defense mechanism which interferes with mineral absorption, especially calcium. Oxalates could also contribute to the formation of certain types of kidney stones.
- Phytic Acid (Phytate) is a substance found in plant seeds, nuts, grains and legumes which interferes with the absorption of iron, calcium, zinc and a few other minerals. People who are already susceptible to iron or zinc deficiencies may want to limit their consumption of foods containing these types of substances, especially if they are not properly prepared.
Many Americans eating the Standard American Diet are lacking in appropriate digestive enzymes. Combine that with substances which may contribute to intestinal permeability, and you have a perfect storm for autoimmune disease.
As indicated in the examples above, autoimmune disease affects a variety of systems, including the cardiovascular system. The importance of balanced minerals like calcium and magnesium are essential for muscle contraction and relaxation (i.e., heartbeat).
The cascade of consequences regarding chronic inflammation forces our bodies to channel resources to fight a battle that can be improved just by eliminating the source of inflammation and providing proper nutrients for it to function.
Yes, but how do we get vitamins and minerals from only eating meat?
One word: Organs.
Now bear with me. Many of us eat animal muscle all of the time, and yes, it has a great deal of nutrients, but organ meats (liver, heart, spleen, pancreas, kidney, and brain) 100% outrank traditional meat cuts in the nutrient department. Along with quality protein, most organs contain fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, as well as key minerals like zinc, iron, selenium, and magnesium. These superfoods also have rich amounts of B-vitamins like folate and B-12 and spleen contains Vitamin C. Bonus nutrients like choline and Coenzyme Q10 are also contained in these nutrient dense powerhouses. Check out this liver recipe – it is a great way to introduce liver to your diet!
As you can see, the Carnivore Diet will not leave you nutrient deficient and it’s your choice how long you want to adhere to this plan. Whether it’s long term or short term, we can support you.
If you simply cannot stomach liver at this time, try some of the organ supplements at Paleo Valley. Their meat sticks are a great addition to any carnivore diet. And if you are searching for the meat we recommend which is organic and grass fed, grass finished look no further than Crowd Cow or Butcher Box. Happy Health!