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The Carnivore Diet...Is it Safe?
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John Peterson John Peterson is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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07-24-2020, 05:04 PM
Hello Everyone,

I have received an e-mail from a man that has had great success while on the "Carnivore Diet". For the past four and a half months he has consumed only meat, fish, eggs, cream, and small amounts of hard cheese. He told me that he has had no fruits, vegetables, or greens of any kind and that he feels great and has lost a great deal of body fat. The problem that he is experiencing is that his wife and a few other people are telling him that he is compromising his health by following this extreme form of a Keto Diet. He asked me if I think he is causing himself irreversible health problems.

Answer: As a young teen I read my Grandfather's book "Not By Bread Alone" by arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson that was written in 1946. The book was fascinating to me and as relates to the Eskimos, Stefansson stated they ate their meat and fish mostly boiled if cooked at all.

Even more to the point "Not By Bread Alone" chronicles a 1928 scientific experiment, conducted by the Russell Sage Institute of Pathology at Bellevue Hospital in New York, in which Stefansson and his colleague Dr. Karsten Andersen ate a meat-only diet for one year to prove the benefits of a meat-only diet.

Prior to the experiment, Stefansson had undertaken three expeditions to the Canadian arctic, living with the Inuit. For at least seven years he lived on meat alone. Others did not believe such a diet could be healthy, so in 1928 he and an expedition teammate were admitted to a ward of New York’s Bellevue Hospital to be fed a meat-only diet (with plenty of organ meat) for a year and “to be intensively studied from every clinical angle.” At first, the meat served in the hospital was too lean, making Stefansson sick, but as soon as the fat was upped to about 80% of calories and 20% protein the pair thrived. A second 1930 paper, based on that same year-long study, found no vitamin deficiencies, normal bowel function, improved dental health, and that “the subjects were mentally alert, physically active and showed no specific physical degradation in any system of the body.”

Now, does what I have written above prove that living on a meat-only diet is healthy? The answer is, "Of course not." The only thing it proves is that it was healthy for Stefansson and his friend. My advice to the man that wrote me was to have his doctor run tests to prove that he is not harming his long term health if that is something he is concerned about.

As relates to Stefansson there is a video clip on youtube from the year 1957 in which he discusses his experiences with the all-meat diet that you will find here:

In the clip above go to 12:15 to hear him discuss the Eskimo diet.

Finally, I'll just say that it seems that we human beings can adjust to a wide range of nutritional strategies but personally I would never try to live on a diet restricted to meat only any more than a diet comprised exclusively of raw fruit and vegetables.

---John Peterson

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