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Animal-based diets

Likely when reading this title, there are some strong emotions that come to the surface for some people.

We've been told for decades that plant-based diets are the best dietary interventions that you can make for your health, and it is true that you will see some benefits when stopping with processed foods and eating food that grows naturally. The ultimate question is, what diet is optimal for human health, and is it sustainable? In truth, the answer will vary from person to person, since everybody is unique genetically and everybody has a different starting point for metabolic health.

Since there are no long-term interventional studies on ANY diet, perhaps one of the best things that we can do is look back at our evolution and anthropology. Scientists have discovered by means of stable nitrogen isotope testing of skeletal bones, that our bones contained nitrogen comparable to that of carnivorous animals, suggesting that our diet was high in protein during our evolution.

It is also important to state that proteins from animal sources are far better in terms of bio-availability and digestibility, as discussed here:

It is important to note that in science there are 3 types of evidence.

  1. Anecdotal. This can only be used to make an observation about something.

  2. Epidemiological. This can only be used to make certain correlations and to form a hypothesis, but cannot prove anything.

  3. Randomized controlled trials. This is used to test and prove whether or not a hypothesis is correct. It is the strongest form of evidence.

Get ready for this next statement:

Most nutritional research, including what the US dietary guidelines are based on is epidemiology.

What does this mean? It means that most nutritional recommendations are hypothetical.

Where does this leave us though? One thing is clear, the best health outcomes are attained by removing processed foods and especially bad, high omega-6 oils like sunflower seed oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil, etc., and the inclusion of whole foods and fats from natural sources like animal fat, coconut oil, olive oil.

Why make the case for an animal-based diet?

Animal-based diets are centered around the idea that it contains the most bio-available nutrients with the least amount of immunological triggers since there are no anti-nutrients in animals. There are an increasing amount of anecdotes of people using a strict meat-only diet as a nonconventional way of treating auto-immune issues. Some of these anecdotes can be found here:

What would an animal-based diet look like? An animal-based diet can be classified into 3 tiers.

  • Tier 1 - Mostly animal-based, but with non-toxic plants (organs optional). 80% - 90% animal foods, 10% - 20% non-toxic plant foods. This is a good place to start if you are going animal-based for the first time and want some flexibility and don't have major health issues.

  • Tier 2 - Animal-based with a variety of organs. 90% animal foods with an emphasis on nose-to-tail eating (Using all the parts of the animal, including organs). Approximately 10% of calories will come from non-toxic plant foods (fruits) and honey.

  • Tier 3 - Meat and water 'meat cleanse'. Eating only meat, organs, and animal fats. This is essentially an elimination diet and a very powerful tool for resolving chronic health issues.

"Wait a minute, a meat-only 'carnivore' diet sounds way too radical for me and does not sound sustainable."

While there are no long-term interventional trials on this manner of eating, and anecdotal evidence is the weakest form of evidence, there are a growing amount of people reporting that this manner of eating has put their autoimmune conditions into remission. When there are this many anecdotes, it is wise to start paying attention and to look do our best to see past our biases and do legitimate scientific inquiry. Perhaps the best way to look at this intervention is as a strict elimination diet to be followed for a short amount of time and re-introduce foods one by one in small amounts to see exactly what one's immune system is reacting to.

Ultimately this blog and website is here for educational purposes and aims to give you the proper scientific point of view so that you can make an educated decision about your health. It is useful to learn from each other and not to discredit each other's experiences and grow together in this manner. Regardless of our beliefs about diet or what works best, what is important is how positive feel and how we interact with each other which makes all the difference in the end.

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