The Healing Benefits of Red Meat by Dr. Joseph Mercola
- A carnivore or meat-only diet can be uniquely beneficial for some people, especially those struggling with autoimmune diseases, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic pain and mental health disorders
- It can also be used as a detox strategy for three to 12 months
- One of the primary benefits of a carnivore diet — as long as you focus on red meat and limit chicken and pork — is that it’s a really low in omega-6 fat, which is the most harmful type of fat and a primary driver of chronic disease
- You’re also removing most or all sources of oxalates, found in many plant foods, and plant lectins. Both can trigger inflammation and a variety of health issues, including chronic pain and autoimmune diseases
- Another benefit of the carnivore diet has to do with carnosine, which is a sink for glycolated lipids. Glucose attaches to the carnosine and as a result, your glucose level goes down. Carnosine is also a longevity molecule
In this interview, Dr. Shawn Baker discusses the carnivore diet, why he’s on it and why he thinks it can be a beneficial choice for others. He also has a regular podcast called “Revero,” where he shares his expertise on this topic. Revero is the name of the company he cofounded, which specializes in getting people off pharmaceuticals using diet and other lifestyle changes.
Baker’s background is actually that of an orthopedic surgeon. He’s also a competitive athlete and played professional rugby in New Zealand for a number of years. As he entered his 40s, he started experimenting with nutrition, and around 2008 got hooked on the ketogenic diet.
From Orthopedic Surgeon to Lifestyle Coach
Around the same time, orthopedic surgeons were told to not operate on morbidly obese patients (a body mass index of 35 or higher) to encourage them to lose weight, thereby lowering their risk of surgical complications and improving outcomes. One thing led to another, and at the end of it all, Baker ended up transforming his career.
“I started suggesting these low carb ketogenic diets with my patients. Not all of them would try it, but some of them did. The ones that did, not only would some of them lose weight, but what was more profound and interesting is they would have a profound reduction in their pain, so much so that many were taken off the OR schedule.
Well that thing got me thinking, ‘Why can’t I do this for more patients?’ So, I started to talking about that. I printed out flyers of books and videos you could watch. I would hand out 20 a day, easily, because I was seeing 40, 50 patients a day and at least 20 of them I thought could benefit from this.
That got frustrating because it was a very inefficient way to get this message out, so I talked to the hospital administration. I said, ‘I’d like to spend half a day once a week doing some lifestyle counseling.’ What really shocked me was their profound reluctance to do that. They flat out said, ‘No, that’s not happening.’
I was an employee of the hospital. I was the head of the surgical group. I was like, wait a minute, I’m making these people avoid operations that have potential complications. Then I quickly realized … we need to make revenue. I was a good source of revenue because I was one of the busiest surgeons in the hospital …
I ended up leaving and went on to do what I’m doing now, which is promoting lifestyle. I got to say, I’m so much happier. I enjoyed what I did as a surgeon, but it’s nowhere near the satisfaction I get today, seeing people’s lives completely change …
So, in my dietary journey, I went on this low carb ketogenic diet, [but I also] saw these crazy people doing an all-meat diet. I thought, ‘God, that’s so stupid,’ but I was morbidly curious. I just followed these guys on social media … I kept reading [while thinking] ‘I can’t believe this is true.’”
Entering the World of Carnivore
In 2016, he finally took the plunge and decided to try the carnivore diet for himself, first eating nothing but animal foods for one whole day, then two and three days in a row. By the end of that year, he went a whole month eating a meat-only diet.
Despite fears of suffering all sorts of negative health effects, he actually ended up feeling the best he had in a decade. So, he kept going, and after two months, his chronic tendonitis vanished. He’s now been on a carnivore diet for six years.
“I don’t think everybody has to do it,” he says. “I don’t think it’s the only way. I think there are people that uniquely benefit from this. Even if you use it for a period of time as an elimination phase — three to six months, maybe a year. Then many people are able to incorporate a few other things. It’s been an interesting journey. I’ve really enjoyed it.
I’ve seen incredible, life transforming stories over and over again … I had a guy who was diagnosed with ADHD as a young child and on all these meds; suicidal, in and out of the ER 200 times. I mean 200 times through the ER. How much does that cost?
We put him on an all-meat diet and he is like, ‘I’m done [with the meds]. I don’t need any of this stuff.’ How much does it cost to feed the guy rib eyes? $10 to $15 a day maybe.
How much is going to the ER? … Much of health care is concentrated in a small percentage of people that are ‘repeat offenders,’ as they call them. They just continue to go to the emergency room over and over again for various reasons, some psychiatric …
There are now several studies that have come out looking at this diet, all of which show it very positively. There are no negative studies out there. Maybe some will be produced down the road, but in my view the default answer at this point is that it’s helpful for people … Especially for autoimmune related diseases, things like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It seems to be extremely powerful for those patients.
A lot of them are on super expensive biologic drugs that have side effects. There’s increased risk of infection, increased risk of cancer. I mean it’s just bizarre how our medical system has gone. Particularly in the last few years, a lot of people have become somewhat distrustful of our medical authorities and I think for good reason.”
Is a Carnivore Diet Sustainable?
Like most diets, carnivore diets can range in severity. Dr. Paul Saladino, another well-known advocate of the carnivore diet, has diverged a bit from his earlier stance and now integrates foods like fruit and honey, up to 250 grams of carbohydrates a day.
Baker’s staples are steak and eggs, but he too will add other foods now and then. “It’s not a religion to me,” he says, “but I legitimately feel best when I’m just eating a bunch of red meat.” At 6 foot 5 inches, 250 pounds, and a very active lifestyle, Baker routinely eats between 3 and 4 pounds of meat a day, which equates to 300 grams of protein a day. He goes on: