Russell Mariani is a Health Educator and Digestive Wellness expert who has been in private practice since 1980. He is the co-founder with his wife Megan Moore of The Center for Functional Nutrition in South Hadley, Massachusetts. He is the author of the book, Principle Eating, The No Diet Way to Complete Health and several other health-related books and ebooks. He can be reached at 413-536-0275 and via email at: email@example.com
Principles and Practices for Healthy Living
Blog Number 5: The Carnivore Diet
On a recent Facebook post someone asked me the following question: “Can you please comment on The Carnivore Diet I hear so many good things about it.”
So, what is The Carnivore Diet? According to many internet sources, The Carnivore Diet is simply a way of eating where people eat ONLY animals and no plants. These same sources touted the safety of this diet and were promising many health benefits.
I disagree and here’s why.
The Carnivore Diet is another great example of why “diets” don’t work.
The Carnivore Diet may work for some people temporarily but it will not work for anyone over the long term. It is not sustainable by any measure of that term.
Human beings are NOT carnivores; we are omnivores.
I followed an earlier version of The Carnivore Diet back in 1972 at the request of my high school basketball coach to make me into a lean, mean, athletic fighting machine and within several months on that diet, it nearly killed me. Literally. I ate steak three times a day and eggs and cheese and drank a half gallon of milk or more and if I had any vegetables at all for almost an entire year it was totally by accident and not by design.
I developed symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome within the first 60 days on my “high protein, mostly animal food, mostly carnivore diet.” Gas, bloating, cramping, constipation for days at a time, followed by loose, urgent, frequent bowel movements. I treated myself with over the counter medicines popular at the time: kaopectate for diarrhea and pepto-bismol for everything else. I never connected the dots that something seriously wrong was happening inside my digestive system until it was almost too late.
Then one day, things became decidedly worse and the results of my colonoscopy were not good: “It looks like you have colon cancer. We will have to do more tests but it does not look good in there young man.” I was 18 years old at the time (1973).
Additional tests revealed that I had a “pre-cancerous, medically incurable condition called “Ulcerative Colitis” that would require me to be on anti-inflammatory medications for the rest of my life, possible surgery to remove the adversely affected parts of my colon and then this most astounding bit of medical insight/advice: my condition had absolutely nothing to do with my diet!
I did some research on my own at my local public library (no internet back then) and decided to immediately get off my “carnivore diet” and return to a more balanced diet of mostly cooked, mostly plant based foods. I got better within a few months and I have been symptom free for almost 50 years. And I never took any medication.
I have been teaching the principles and practices of a simple whole foods diet approach to health and wellness and healthy longevity since 1980. My approach to food and eating has not fundamentally changed since the 1970’s. I have never followed ANY of the fad diets and I never will.
And mark my words: The Carnivore Diet is a fad diet!
Diets don’t work but principles of balance and harmony do. Traditional foods work. Locally grown and harvested foods work. Eating ecologically works; taking into account geography and climate and seasonal variations and many other factors.
The Carnivore Diet is a recipe for constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and those symptoms and conditions may take less that one month to show up in the systems of people who adopt The Carnivore Diet 100% (or close to 100%).
High protein and low fiber diets ALWAYS result in constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome in a very high percentage of the people who adopt such unhealthy and non-sustainable diets.
The “traditional” human way of eating in major civilizations experiencing four season climates during the past 5,000 years has always included a “balance” of all the major food groups; cooked whole grains and beans (because they can store safely over the winter months when fresh fruits and vegetables were not available) naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi (because they can be stored safely for months at a time too) followed by a variety of cooked and fresh vegetables (available locally and seasonally); root vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, vine vegetables, soups, stews, bone broths, seasonal fruits, seeds and nuts, herbs, dairy foods, fermented dairy foods, fish, shellfish, chicken (and other birds/fowl) lamb, beef etc.
Human beings are omnivores not carnivores. We can eat meat safely as long as it comes from healthy animals and is in the proper balance and proportion to all the other food groups (typically less than 25% of the total volume of food consumed).
Ultimately the issue with food and eating and human health comes down to the condition of the intestinal microbiome; the ecosystem of bacterial (and other) microorganisms that dominate and determine not only the health and normal functioning of our digestive and eliminative systems but of our immune system and all the other systems of the body as well.
Everything is downstream of the intestinal microbiome!
If you have a healthy intestinal microbiome you will be healthy; if not, you will suffer a seemingly endless list of dysfunctions, disorders and dis-eases.
To learn more about all this, please read my book: Principle Eating: The No Diet Way to Complete Health. (published in Spring, 2020)
Russell Mariani is a Health Educator and Digestive Wellness expert who has been in private practice since 1980. He is the co-director with his wife Megan Moore of The Center for Functional Nutrition in South Hadley, Massachusetts. He is the author of the book, Principle Eating and several other health-related books and ebooks. He can be reached at 413-536-0275 and via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org The website is: www.thecenterforfunctionalnutrition.net