What do scientists say about the carnivore diet?

What do scientists say about the carnivore diet?

Photo by Matthew Ball

Four chicken eggs and six boiled duck eggs. Seven hundred grams of minced beef fried in fat. This is what celebrity influencer Bella Ma, also known as the Steak and Butter Gal, eats in one day. She does not eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and her diet consists of only animal products. Thanks to her way of eating, Ma is a proponent of the carnivore diet.

The popularity of the diet, which excludes all plant foods, was fueled by Canadian psychologist and anti-woke protester Jordan Peterson. In 2018 he explained on the podcast The Joe Rogan Experience He explains how the presence of a carnivore freed his daughter Mikhail from her rheumatic complaints and depression.

In addition to health claims, proponents of the carnivorous diet often point to our ancestors. Because ancient humans lived mainly on meat obtained by hunting, that is why our current digestive system was programmed for an animal diet.

Is there anything in the carnivore diet? Five questions – and their answers.

Did humans evolve to eat meat?

Archaeologist Amanda Henry can be blunt about this: “No.” Henry is affiliated with Leiden University and conducts research on the diet of our ancestors. “Many of our ancestors could hunt, but the amount of this varied depending on the group and living environment.”

According to Henry, the flexibility of the human diet is unique. “If you think about what we need to survive, it's especially important that you eat enough, not too much. If your life depends on it, the exact ratio of nutrients won't make much difference.

Scientists see the first evidence of this flexibility in our ancestor, Homo erectus. This large ape first spread throughout the world and had to adapt its diet to different environments.

If you put the teeth of a prehistoric man under a microscope, you would see tiny plant particles. Henry analyzes these particles and determines their origin. Other archaeological finds, such as spears and tools, and analyzes of ancient human bone structure can provide a picture of what our ancestors ate. This diet seems to vary greatly depending on species, location, and time period, but plants have always been a part of it.

Can a carnivore diet help you lose weight?

In principle yes. But the fact that you can lose weight is not due to the amount of protein or lack of carbohydrates. scientific studies Show that in principle any diet can help you lose weight. It is especially important that you eat fewer calories than you burn. The body will then burn fat to provide the necessary energy, thus losing weight.

It is especially important with a low-calorie diet that it is sustainable. It recommends diets that are too strict, one-sided, or impractical Nutrition center So out.

What does this carnivore diet do for the rest of your health?

According to Frank Vicerin, an epidemiologist and professor of vascular medicine, eating a lot of meat significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Visseren is partly responsible for European guidelines To reduce those risks, the motto is: eat plant foods as much as possible.

Red meat – “meat of hoofed animals” – and dairy products contain mainly saturated fats. “These are bad things, they cause high cholesterol levels,” says Vicerin. If you still want to eat animal products, keep them fat-free: chicken, white fish, or low-fat yogurt have less saturated fat.

In addition to increasing cholesterol levels, eating too much red meat can cause you to consume too much iron. It can also lead to cardiovascular problems, Vicerin says. In addition, it irritates the intestinal wall. This, in turn, increases the risk of colon cancer, according to Ellen Kampmann, a nutritionist at Wageningen University and an expert in the field of diet and cancer.

Those who eat only meat do not eat sugar. Isn't this really healthy?

Fast sugars found in sweets and soft drinks are not actually good for health. But whole grain products, which are an important source of fiber according to the Nutrition Center, also have no place in the diet of carnivores. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and other foods rich in fiber are also prohibited, according to supporters of the meat diet.

While: to form MicrobiomeIntestinal lining, a varied diet that contains enough fiber is crucial, Kampman says. This microbiome is important for your bowel movements, immune system, and even the brain.

If almost all scientists advise against this diet, how can it be so popular with some?

“The meat is special,” says Hans Dagefuss of Wageningen University. According to the consumer sociologist, meat often carries connotations related to celebration, communication, luxury, masculinity, and toughness. The fact that the diet is so attractive to some may have something to do with these associations. But, says Dagefuss, “eating too much meat has consequences not only for your health, but also for the environment and animal welfare. It's a selfish choice.”

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In the Better Life section, we collaborate with experts to answer practical questions in the areas of health, money and sustainability.

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