Inflammation is a natural immune response to injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation can be harmful to health and has been linked to several diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
Many things can contribute to chronic inflammation, including eating a poor-quality diet, stress, and lack of sleep. One diet that has been shown to reduce inflammation is the carnivore diet.
The carnivore diet is often seen as a very restrictive diet by people eating a standard Western diet because it only includes meat, fish, and animal products. It eliminates all plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, cereals and grains, legumes, nuts, fruit juices, sugar-sweetened food and drinks such as cakes, pastries, cola and other fizzy drinks, alcohol, honey, syrups and artificial sweeteners.
It also eliminates one of the most common inflammatory types of modern foods: Industrial seed oils, such as rapeseed, sunflower, safflower and vegetable oil (a blend of different seed oils).
There are several potential reasons why a carnivore diet effectively reduces inflammation.
- Elimination of inflammatory plant compounds: Many plant-based foods contain compounds that can promote inflammation, such as lectins, oxalates, and phytates. These compounds can damage the gut lining and increase inflammation.
- Increased intake of anti-inflammatory nutrients: Meat and animal products are good sources of anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin C. These nutrients can help to reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
- Ketosis: The carnivore diet can induce ketosis, a metabolic state in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of glucose. Ketosis has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.
Elimination of inflammatory plant compounds
One of the main reasons why a carnivore diet may reduce inflammation is because it eliminates inflammatory plant compounds. These compounds are found in many plant-based foods, such as:
- Lectins: Lectins are proteins that can bind to cells in the gut lining and damage them. This can lead to inflammation and leaky gut syndrome. Lectins are found in many plant foods, including legumes: beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, and soybeans. Grains: wheat, barley, oats, rye, corn. Nightshade vegetables: potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, aubergine. Fruits: apples, pears, cherries, grapes. Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and cashews.
- Oxalates: Oxalates are naturally occurring substances that can bind to minerals, such as calcium, and form kidney stones. They can also contribute to inflammation. Some plant foods that are highest in oxalates include Spinach, rhubarb, beets, Swiss chard, nuts, seeds, chocolate, tea, coffee, whole grains and legumes.
- Phytates: Phytates are compounds that bind to minerals, such as iron, zinc, and magnesium, and make them difficult to absorb. They can also contribute to inflammation. Phytates are found in many plant foods, but they are especially concentrated in the following: Whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, chocolate, tea, coffee, oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
Increased intake of anti-inflammatory nutrients
Meat and animal products such as eggs, fish, seafood and dairy are good sources of anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties. They can help to reduce inflammation and improve heart health.
- Zinc: Zinc is a mineral that is essential for immune function. It can also help to reduce inflammation. Here are some animal foods that are good sources of zinc: Oysters, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, salmon, tuna, shrimp, eggs, milk and yoghurt.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help to protect cells from damage. It can also help to reduce inflammation. It is a myth that meat and animal products don’t contain vitamin C. They have enough vitamin C in a fully bioavailable form to more than meet our needs.
A note on vitamin C and meat
Here is a summary of the vitamin C content of some animal-sourced foods divided into four food groups: ruminant, pork, poultry, and seafood.
Ruminant organs are a great source of vitamin C. Beef spleen is the best source of vitamin C in this group, with 50.3 mg per 100 grams. Other high-vitamin C ruminant organs include the liver, pancreas, lungs, brains, and kidneys.
Beef muscle has a much lower level of vitamin C, with just around 2 mg per 100 grams. However, consuming muscle meat will give you enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy.
Pork meat and organs are not as high in vitamin C as ruminant meat and organs, but, like ruminants, pork organs are higher in vitamin C than pork muscle meat. Pork spleen is the highest-vitamin C pork organ, with 28.5 mg per 100 grams. Other high-vitamin C pork organs include the liver, brain, kidney, and lung. Pork muscle meat has a much lower level of vitamin C, with just around 1 mg per 100 grams.
Poultry organs are not as high in vitamin C as ruminant organs, but poultry meat (e.g. goose meat, quail meat, wild duck meat, chicken dark meat) has a higher vitamin C level than ruminant muscle meat. Chicken liver is the highest-vitamin C poultry organ, with 27.9 mg per 100 grams.
Other high-vitamin C poultry organs include turkey liver, capon giblet, chicken liver, chicken giblet, and chicken giblet. Chicken dark meat has a higher level of vitamin C than chicken white meat, with 6.2 mg per 100 grams compared to 2.4 mg per 100 grams.
Seafood is a good source of vitamin C, with some species containing more vitamin C than others. Salmon, tuna, and prawns are some of the highest-vitamin C kinds of seafood, with 10.3 mg, 9.9 mg, and 8.5 mg per 100 grams, respectively. Other high-vitamin C seafood include sardines, mackerel, and oysters.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. When you eat a very low-carbohydrate diet, your liver produces small fuel molecules called ketones. Ketones can supply energy to your brain and other tissues.
There are several reasons why ketosis can be good for fat loss:
- It helps to reduce appetite. Ketosis can help reduce appetite by suppressing the hormone ghrelin, which makes you hungry.
- It boosts metabolism. Ketosis can boost metabolism by increasing the calories you burn at rest.
- It helps to preserve muscle mass. Ketosis can help maintain muscle mass during weight loss by preventing muscle protein breakdown.
In one study, people who followed a ketogenic diet for 12 weeks had significantly lower levels of inflammatory markers than people who followed a standard diet.
The carnivore diet has been shown to reduce inflammation. If you are considering trying the carnivore diet, you must talk to your doctor first if you have any ongoing health issues being treated with prescription medications.
Many people moving from a standard Western diet to a ketogenic or carnivore diet find their need for prescription medicines reduced over time. People with type 2 diabetes especially need to work with their doctor to reduce their insulin medication to ensure they are not taking too much.
As the carnivore diet is very effective at reversing insulin resistance, type 2 diabetics may be able to reduce or completely eliminate their insulin medication in as little as a few weeks.
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One Reply to “How Does a Carnivore Diet Reduce Inflammation?”
great post – thanks !!
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