The relationship between nutrition and the human body is my biggest passion (besides cooking), and learning about new ways to hack your biology in order to treat hard conditions like Sophia's (@hippeachick) leaky gut. She tried the Low-Fodmap approach, being dairy free keto, nut free, all organic and pastured raised and nothing work until she eventually tried the carnivore diet.
Sophia was kindly enough to answer some of my questions about the carnivore diet since I was impressed and inspired by her testimony on her instagram account. Following strict regimens and supplements didn't help her from being hospitalized, having a resting metabolic rate of 38 and being 98 pounds as much as the Carnivore diet helped her.
"I began to see a holistic doctor who told me I had severe SIBO, candida, parasites in my small intestine and gallbladder, and a damaged ileocecal valve. No wonder I was in so much pain! I have been following a Carnivore Diet since July and have not looked back since".
First things first! What's the carnivore diet?
I agree con Sophia on this part, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, so research is important. Sophia explains that this diet consists of only animal products.
There are several variations - strict carnivore, loose carnivore, and keto carnivore.
- Strict carnivore consists of strictly beef, salt and water. This method is typically used for people who have severe autoimmune conditions, such as Mikaihla Peterson.
- Loose carnivore consists of all animals - chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, fish, eggs, organs, etc. Some even include dairy.
- Keto carnivore is a meat-based carnivore, yet still includes small amounts of plants.
"Personally, I do not take a strict approach. I eat mainly grass fed & finished beef from my local farmers, organ meats, wild-caught salmon, pasture raised eggs, chicken, and lamb (also from local farmers), and bone marrow. I do not support factory farming and am a big believer in regenerative farming. Not only are the animals treated humanely, it is also beneficial from the environment and reduces CO2 emissions".
Here are some of the questions I asked Sophia about her journey on the Carnivore diet that may inspire you to try it or help someone in the same situation.
How did you first started, did you went ALL IN? Or did you had a progressive start?
I dove right in. The weeks preceding, I had been in so much pain that I could not get out of bed. I knew that the small amounts of vegetables, fruits, and nuts were creating inflammation and not allowing my gut to properly heal.
Was it hard at the beginning?
To be honest, not at all. There were a few times where I really wanted a sweet potato or bok choy or another veggie, but after a few weeks, my body was thriving off of the healthy animal fats.
How long it took you to see the first changes? What were those changes?
I started seeing improvements immediately, but it took around 30 days for my body to get used to the change.
The biggest and most important improvement was that I no longer felt burning in my stomach. My stomach felt calm and was not nearly as inflamed. Similarly, my bloating became nonexistent. When I used to eat something as simple as romaine, I swelled up like a balloon. Now, I can eat a pound of grass-fed steak and still have a flat stomach.
My eczema slowly went away and my brain fog significantly improved. My gym performance has improved and I actually began to have the energy to lift heavier weights. My skin is free of pimples and blemishes too!
What were some of the changes on your digestion?
My digestion improved. I began having more regular bowel movements and did not experience bloating like I used to.
That being said, I am intentional about keeping my electrolytes balanced so that I am producing enough HCL to digest the meat. I take HCL supplements to aid in digestion.
Are you taking any supplements, which ones?
I do take supplements. I take HCL, liquid magnesium, liquid potassium, and special supplements from my holistic doctor designed to restore my gut.
How long did you follow it, and how long did it take you to ease any cravings?
I have been following a carnivore way of eating since July 2019 and my cravings were gone after the first few weeks. I have had one sweet potato since July and it was not nearly as satisfying as meat. My body loves meat and craves fat.
Last thoughts and tips for anyone wanting to start the Carnivore Diet
- Don't give up! "I had days where I didn’t know if it was possible to heal my gut and was afraid to post about my new-found lifestyle because of the false claims against red meat. I wanted to share my story, but did not know how people would respond. It also can be awkward telling people that I only eat meat. People judge you if you eat “too much” red meat, yet do not care if you eat pizza, ice cream, and fast food daily. However, I have become comfortable and am confident in what I am doing".
"We have been told for years that red meat needs to be limited, yet when you actually look at the studies and who funds those studies, you’ll find that there are no studies that link red meat to heart disease or cancers. Knowledge is power and my eyes have been opened up significantly since I started my carnivore journey".
"If you struggle with obesity, autoimmune conditions, or mental illness, I would encourage you to give it a go for at least 30 days and just see how you feel. It may not work for everyone, but quality animal products do have the power to heal".
"Another tip I would give would be to source your meats from local farmers. Eatwild.com is a website that has a list of all of the pasture raised, grass fed farmers in your area. Supporting local farmers is so important not only for ethical reasons, but also because pasture raised meat is more nutritious and consuming grain fed, antibiotic pumped meat means that you are also ingesting those things".
"I believe that modern medicine has gotten so far away from the idea of food as medicine and it is a shame because food has the power to heal. Things are still not perfect, but I’ve got a God who has a plan for my suffering and now, I am able to manage the pain better than I have been able to in the past 4 years".
For those of you who are believe healing is not possible, I'm here to tell you it is. Food is what fuels us and it also has the power to heal us. I believe that through creation, God gave us the tools we need to heal ourselves.
However, healing is not linear and it is a process. There will be days where you want to give up. There will be days where you feel like you cannot handle it, but you can.
Make time to do things that make you happy: art, music, taking daily walks, watching movies with your family, cuddling with a pet, reading a book, or whatever it may be and make sure you give your body enough rest. Phillipians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength".
Sophia also recommends checking out these sources!
The Carnivore Cast podcast
Paul Saladino MD’s Podcast
The “Strong.sistas” on Instagram and Youtube
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price