Is a Meat-Based diet bad for you?

Answer by Steven Fowkes:

Not fundamentally. The Massai tribe eat meat and blood to excess and are much healthier than Americans who think that will cause heart disease and cancer. However, the Massai eat wild game, and Americans have a hard time buying natural meat, which is quite different from 1) hormone-treated meat, 2) diabetic meat (raised on corn, or “finished” on corn), 3) mycotoxin-laden meat (mostly from moldy corn, which gives more pounds of meat per pound of grain, and more pounds of meat per dollar invested).  Eggs and milk are similar. Even if you are not reactive to milk proteins or egg proteins (IgG, IgA, IgM), there are major differences if food quality based on what the cows and chickens ate.  Hormones and antibiotics are just part of the equation.

Everybody talks about the need for fiber, the needs for fruits and vegetables. But most of that is myth. Let me take fiber to illustrate. The amount of fiber you need can be relatively small. Take colon-cancer risk. It depends on the energy dynamic in the colon; you need more fiber the more your colonocytes have energy problems. Colonocytes need energy, and they get some of it from the breakdown of fiber and some of it from nutrition from the blood stream. If you eat lots of fruit, honey, starch (and of course refined sugar products), the energy from the blood stream is mainly sugar, which is sabotaged by insulin resistance. If insulin resistant, you’ll need more fiber to have the same cancer risk as somebody who has less insulin resistance. But if you eat very little sugar or starch, your body and colonocytes are burning fat, which is not sabotaged by insulin resistance; less fiber is needed.

This kind of information is very unpopular and politically incorrect. In this day and age, the “moral” thing to do is to eat as little animal flesh as possible so as to minimize environmental impact. The less cow farts, the better. OK, now that you’ve stopped laughing, you might be interested to know that the carrying capacity of land (how much vegetable and animal-product foods it can sustainable raise, is higher with animal grazing than without. Despite the fact that steers eat some of the vegetation, there is more plant matter on the land and better soil ecology. So, as to many aspects of health and information, there is wisdom in moderation and questioning truths held sacred.

It is certainly possible that you are damaging your health in some way by eating the way you are. The health judgment is not only about the food, but about you and your microbiome. You may be unique in your genetics, your epigenetics, your metabolic individuality, your environmental exposures, your dietary supplementation, your exercise habits, and your attitudes and beliefs.

It’s a good question. Keep asking it.

Is my carnivorous diet unhealthy?