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Is the carnivore diet good for you? – Dr. Paul Saladino

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On episode 448 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we ask the question: “Is the Carnivore Diet good for you?

Dr. Saladino is the leading authority on the Carnivore Diet. He has used this diet to reverse autoimmune issues, chronic inflammation, and mental health issues in hundreds of patients. He is board-certified in psychiatry and completed his residency at the University of Washington. He is also a certified functional medicine practitioner through the Institute for Functional Medicine. He attended medical school at the University of Arizona, focusing on integrative medicine and nutritional biochemistry.

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This episode is also sponsored by Fastic. This is a wonderful app that teaches you how to do intermittent fasting right. If you have an iPhone, you can access the free at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/ifastic. Get the Android version at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/afastic.

You may or may not know that I am a fan of the ketogenic diet. I regularly make bone broth to get collagen and minerals from the bone and bone marrow. And I'm definitely not someone to discard the egg yolk. Ketosis is an excellent way to improve your body composition and fight chronic disease. 

I've always dismissed the Carnivore Diet as an extreme elimination diet, which it is since it limits you to just animal products. But after reading The Carnivore Code, I decided to give it a try. I went three weeks with this way of eating and it's not so bad. I got off of it for two reasons:

1) I could get enough liver and kidneys and I don't feel like buying supplements was the way to go.

2) I missed vegetables. As the doctor mentioned in the show, if how you're eating is working, then maybe carnivore isn't for you.

With all of the scientific evidence Dr. Saladino presented in the book and during this interview, I'm less concerned about eating meat regularly and a little less enamored with vegetables overall, but I'm glad I tried it for a bit.

Transcript

Allan
Dr. Saladino, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Dr. Saladino
Thanks for having me on. It's good to be here.

Allan
I have had someone on about the carnivore of diet before. His name is Craig Emmerich, Maria's husband, you might know him. And it was really fascinating. I've been interested in the diet, but honestly, it seems pretty extreme to me to just eat meat and organs. I've read a lot about it. I've heard a lot about it. But I think your book, The Carnivore Code, is really kind of the first book I've seen that basically power drives any other way you'd want to eat, I mean, for lack of a better word, it's like, boy, you just pulverized all the vegetables I like and you did it with science.

Dr. Saladino
Well, I tried. And the goal of writing the book and we can get into what I do and why I do it, my goal is not to convince everyone to stop eating all plants for the rest of eternity. The idea with the book and I'll tell the listeners a little of my story as well in a moment, but there are really two main thesis in the book. There are two things that I'm hoping to achieve and the first is to exonerate, red meat to undo the bad science that's been done around red meat and ruminant animals, cows, bison, lamb.

Dr. Saladino
These kinds of foods are some of the most vilified foods on the planet. And yet I strongly believe and I think that the medical literature strongly supports the fact that they are the most nutritious foods on the planet for humans. So what we have is this completely upside down ideology this completely reversed mainstream idea around fear of red meat. And that doesn't need to be that way. And I talk about in the book why that is and evidence for red meat being essential in the human diet.

Dr. Saladino
And we can get to both of those things. The second point of the book is to explain and to suggest to offer that plants exists on a toxicity spectrum. They're rooted in the ground. They've been co-evolving with animals for four hundred and fifty million years. And so in order for plants and animals to co-exist in an ecosystem, they have had to develop defense chemicals. This is really not conjecture or opinion. This is botanical science. And these defense chemicals can harm humans. And so plants exist on a toxicity spectrum and understanding which plants are the most toxic in the least toxic is crucial for every human to achieve optimal health.

Dr. Saladino
It's really just it's another tool in the toolbox for people. If people are listening to this and they are thriving, they're just crushing it, kicking, butt, don't change a thing. I respect anyone who's crushing it. And I will give anyone an electronic high five for making an intentional choice with their diet. Whatever that choice is, that's the first step, is making an intentional choice of diet, thinking about your food.

Dr. Saladino
But there's a lot of people that are suffering and no one has really gone to these lengths. No one has uncovered these questions. Nobody has turned these stones over and said maybe some of these plants are harming us. Maybe this is the reason that some of us suffer with eczema like I did, or asthma or psoriasis or depression or mood issues or libido issues or weight gain that won't reverse or tons of other autoimmune issues.

Dr. Saladino
And it's just exciting to be able to do to try and do those two things to say, hey, this red meat don't fear this. Very valuable for you, very critical for you, your family, your children, for their health, for your parents health, everyone. Wrongly vilified based on bad science, which is epidemiology. And the second part is you're not thriving, realize that plants exist on a toxicity spectrum.

Allan
Yeah. Now in my book, The Wellness Roadmap, I brought up a concept that I call opportunistic eaters. And what it is, is as humans, you know, if we're hungry, we're going to go for food. I think I got a little backward and so I got opportunistic eating today is pulling up to the McDonald's drive-thru. It's easy. It's quick, low cost for me from an energy perspective, I don't even have to get out of my car and there it is. Not good for me, but it gives me the energy it did what it was supposed to do, I guess. But then when I thought back to our ancestors and the way that they would look at the opportunity, I think I had it backward. And you rightfully said something in your book that that made me turn that around. You call it the Carnivore Code Hypothesis. And that would be where we would effectively favor meat, particularly red meat, over other sources of food for the nutritional value of them.

Allan
Whereas I thought it's easier for me to pick blueberries in the blueberries, not actually attacking me back. Well, we're going to find out later. Maybe that blueberry is but, you know, I feel safer picking blueberries than I would hunting a water buffalo. Now, even if you and I and a few other guys together with spears and went out there and started working, it would be a little safer, but still risk. We take every time we wanted this food. But what you brought up in the book. There's a good reason why we would take that risk.

Dr. Saladino
There's a very good reason why we would take that risk and why we have taken that risk. The beginning part of the book is really about where we've come from in humans and looking at fossilized evidence of human cranial vault size, the growth of the brain. And there's pretty good evidence that one of the key, if not the critical factor in the massive growth of the human brain, was the advent of hunting in our ancestors and the procurement of meat and these unique nutrients that occur in meat.

Dr. Saladino
So if you look at what's in meat and this goes back to the idea of exonerating red meat and understanding how valuable these foods are for humans. There are many nutrients in red meat specifically, but in all animals really that only occur in animal foods.

Dr. Saladino
So often we're told, of these phytonutrients, quote-unquote. And I really think that's a fairy tale, that's not true when we can talk about that as well. But there are unique nutrients. There are unique nutrients that only occur in appreciable biologically available quantities in animal foods.

Dr. Saladino
But we've never heard about these. So you kind of allude to this in your description. And I think most people and our ancestors were really after the calories, but it worked out when they were seeking the most calories in the largest animals and the largest repository of food, they were solving this energetics equation. Per energy invested, the return on a water buffalo is much better than a blueberry. And it just so happens that when you get that water buffalo, you are getting so many more unique nutrients that are so much more bioavailable. Because we know that in order for humans to be optimal, we need micronutrients. These are things like vitamins and minerals, and I'll talk about those in a moment. In order for our ancestors, or you or I to survive until tomorrow, we need calories.

Dr. Saladino
And you can get those calories from a Slurpee or a Big Mac or a Frosty or french fries. You'll survive till tomorrow. But if you want to survive decades from now and have vital health and healthy children and multiple generations and play with your grandkids, you need micronutrients. And that is the real difference. But by seeking out the highest sources and the most efficient sources of calories, our ancestors also sought out the unique micronutrients. So what am I talking about here?

Dr. Saladino
I'm talking about things like creatine, carnitine, choline, carnitine, vitamin K and B12. The list goes on and on. These are nutrients that really only occur in animal foods in any appreciable quantity. And they are necessary. They are absolutely essential for optimal human health.

Dr. Saladino
But you really can't get creatine from plants. We know that it makes builder stronger, but we also know that it makes us smarter. There have been interventional experiments where they'll do trials without giving vegetarians and vegans creatine. And they get smarter. They do better on memory tasks and card sorting tasks and cognitive processing tasks.

Dr. Saladino
And then there's choline, an essential nutrient for the formation of the brain to make new baby brains to make our brain strong. It really doesn't occur in appreciable quantities and plant foods, but it's absolutely abundant and very biologically available in animal foods. Carnitine, carnitine, these are unique amino acid forms that are used in the antioxidant process in the human body. Vitamin K2 is a form of vitamin K that's absolutely essential for proper calcium partitioning in the human body and higher intakes of vitamin K2, which is a series of Menaquinones, have been associated with much better cardiovascular outcomes.

Dr. Saladino
But where's the vitamin K2 In-plant Foods? It doesn't exist. You can't get vitamin K2 from Plant Foods. You can vitamin K1, which is Phylloquinone. But humans are really, really bad at converting Phylloquinone to medical quinone and an intake of Phylloquinone in Plants is not associated with any of these improved outcomes from heart disease or calcification or sclerosis. So the list goes on, right? Vitamin B 12. Most people know about that, but these are all critical nutrients, trust to be optimal and they were critical for our ancestors brains to grow.

Dr. Saladino
And the statement I make in the book is that I strongly believe and I think the evidence absolutely corroborates the notion that eating meat made us human. It's essential for humans to eat this. And so the investment is slightly higher danger hunting a water buffalo is going to be repaid in spades, it's going to be repaid over and over. As you get that hunt, you get that kill graciously, thankfully, and you share it with your tribe and you are nourished so deeply also by eating organs, if we can talk about.

Dr. Saladino
But that's really what allowed our ancestors to thrive, that it was so easy to get the nutrition from animals. And you can survive on plant foods, but they've got these toxins and you have to detoxify them. They're good for survival. But our ancestors really would have sought out animals first. And if they had to, they would use these plant foods as a fallback. If you can't get a buffalo, you might gather some blueberries.

Dr. Saladino
Now, fruit is kind of a specific thing that I'll talk about. I think our ancestors would have eaten fruit in season, but blueberries aren't available year-round. And you don't make a baby out of blueberries, you know, but you can't just you can't make a human out of the nutrients in blueberries, but you can make a human out of the nutrients in water buffalo that's got almost that's got basically everything you need.

Dr. Saladino
Blueberries, It's got some calories and a few things that we can use, but not great. Now, the fruit stems, leaves, roots and seeds of plants are much more highly defended with these defense chemicals. And that, I think, would have been absolutely way down on the list for humans. If you cannot get you cannot get an animal, then you're going to eat those things to survive. But our ancestors favored animal foods. They made us who we are. And by really forgetting that wisdom today, we are forsaking our ancestral birthright to much, much deeper levels of human health.

Allan
Yeah, and kind of following along with that as we develop and you start thinking about, OK, why is a human-like a human? Because we do have some teeth that allow us to eat some vegetables, but they're not all of our teeth are animal or plant teeth. So it's obvious that we have a little bit of diversity opportunity there. But there are other things about the human body that makes it clear that we're hunters, we're meant to be carnivores. Can you talk about some of those changes physiologically that have happened as humans have evolved?

Dr. Saladino
Yeah, so this is quite a fascinating story and it starts in the mouth. And really, as you go, as you said, the teeth argument always gets brought up a lot. But we clearly have teeth for both chewing fibrous material. Probably we held on to those because we needed that during times of scarcity of animals. And we have lots of teeth for biting into meat and eating animals. The digestive system of the digestive tract is one of the more fascinating parts of our physiology that distinguishes us from plant-eating herbivores.

Dr. Saladino
The acidity of our stomach is much more. It's much greater. So we have a lower PH, which means a more acidic stomach than many other species, many other primates, many other herbivorous or even omnivorous species. That's a strong suggestion that as we begin eating meat, we were eating rotting meat. So we were eating carrion just to prevent our guts from being damaged by bacteria that might have been growing on the meat. We don't have to eat rotting meat today, but there's a clear evolutionary blueprint there of our ancestors eating meat that was rotting or eating meat in general and the stomach acid protecting us from it and the stomach acid also breaking down that meat.

Dr. Saladino
The shape and distribution of gut regions is also very different in humans. And this is one of the other things called the expensive tissue hypothesis that probably allowed the human brain to grow so big. And we see this in other animals and other species as well. But energetically there is a ceiling on how an animal can change throughout its evolution and as a species.

Dr. Saladino
And so if you want to grow a bigger brain, which uses a lot of your energy, you're going to have to trim the fat, so to speak, from somewhere else. And it looks like the tradeoff for humans was in the gut. We have a much smaller, large intestine. So there's a stomach, a small intestine and a large intestine. The small intestine is 20 plus feet, goes from the end of your stomach to the ileocecal valve, which is where your colon starts. And your colon is your large bowel and these these parts of the intestine serve different purposes. But humans have a slightly larger small bowel and a much smaller, large bowel than primates.[00:17:48.710] – Dr. Saladino
So what appears to have happened in the very compelling hypothesis is that as we were able to eat more nutrient rich foods, we were able to shrink the size of our colons because we didn't need the colons to do the massive fermentation that primates do. So if you look at a gorilla or an ape, they have both a very protuberance stomach. They have a rib angle, which is much more pointed outward than humans. Our ribs kind of go straight down and an ape goes way out to accommodate this very large colon.

Dr. Saladino
The colon now for humans is really just to reabsorb the last bits of water from our stool as it passes through the small intestine. And the small intestine is where we do most of the absorption of nutrients. So there's this real change and that allowed our brains to grow big because we have smaller energy needs in our gut. We can then redistribute the caloric availability to growing a big brain in a very metabolically expensive brain. There's a fascinating fish in Africa that I talk about in the book called The Peters' Elephant Nose Fish.

Dr. Saladino
People can Google this. It's a really cool looking fish. But you see the same thing here. The expensive tissue hypothesis plays out in this fish as well. It has the biggest brain of any species or fish relative to body size. So it's a pretty smart fish. And in order to do that, it has the smallest gut. So it has this trade-off between gut and brain. Again, not surprisingly, that fish is a carnivore as well. And in the fish world, Carnivore is a little different than in the human or land mammal world. But that fish doesn't eat plants, that fish eats other fish or smaller, smaller animals that it's consuming.

Dr. Saladino
So that allows it to consume higher nutrient density food and have a smaller gut. And so it gets a bigger brain energetically in the trade-off. So there's all sorts of other things that suggest that we're hunters. We've got these shoulders that allow us to pitch, and no other species on the planet can throw a fastball like a human can throw a spear.

Dr. Saladino
Primates can't do this. Nobody else can do this. We have these articulated fingers. We're very agile on our feet. And even the whites of our eyes are fascinating. I should have, the book is it wouldn't have shown this picture very well, but I should have put a picture in the book about this. If you look at a chimp's eyes, I didn't know this until I was researching the book The Sclera. So the part of the eye outside of the iris is brown.

Dr. Saladino
And a human, it's white, and so if people look in the mirror, you'll see that center part of your eye, that's the iris and the white stuff to the side. That's the sclera. And a chimp sclera is brown. So if you look at the chimp eye, versus a human eye, it looks very different. And the hypothesis here, advanced by Bill von Hippel and others, is that humans became cooperative rather than competitive. That if I'm in the tribe with you and I'm looking to the right, you can tell which direction I'm looking because you can see the contrast between the iris and the sclera.

Dr. Saladino
But if you look at a chimp, you can't really see which direction they're looking because it's all the same color. So it was advantageous for them to not signal their intentions, what they were looking at, potential mate, prey, escape route to other chimps. But humans became cooperative.

Dr. Saladino
So we were hunting in groups. We were signaling danger and we were becoming this cooperative species. Well, you don't need a whole lot of cooperation to pick blueberries, but if you're hunting a water buffalo, you probably want to cooperate, right?

Allan
Yeah, let's send Derrick in there.

Dr. Saladino
If you've been in the military, or you've seen these adventure movies, you know, you can communicate with somebody across the room with your eyes without saying anything. Or if someone sees danger, you can see where that person is looking immediately.

Dr. Saladino
So there's all these adaptations that make us look a whole lot like hunters. There's also fossil evidence that we've been hunting. I mean, two million years ago when the human brain began to grow is when we see these fossilized remains of Shuli and tools, these by facial by facial stones, which look kind of like big arrowheads. They were used for spears and for butchering. And we start to see bones that are dated to two million years with cut marks on the bone from the butchering.

Dr. Saladino
And we see hunting injuries to animals and we see mass graves where our ancestors apparently herded animals into blind corridors or drove them off cliffs to harvest them in mass. So right at the time we see the human brain start to grow. We then begin to see evidence for hunting and looking at the fossil record, we can see these changes in the human physiology, suggesting, humans are hunters. First and foremost, we're hunters.

Dr. Saladino
Everybody says we're hunter-gatherers. Well, we're like hunter-gatherer. You know, we're like mostly hunting a little bit of gathering if you can't get an animal. And then the question is, what are the foods our ancestors were really gathering? It wasn't kale, I'll tell you that. You can get into it.

Allan
So since the 70s, you know, you don't eat fat, don't eat fat, don't eat fat, low fat, low fat, everything, and with paleo coming up, I guess mid two thousands and so and it was growing and then that went to Keto. So I was I was into ketosis. I was was feeling better than I've felt in forever. And then this news report comes out, you know, that red meat you're eating is going to cause colon cancer. Your chance of dying just went up dramatically. You know, I'm reading the article and I'm like this can't be true. But, you know, well, there's a study and everybody took off with that study. Can you tell us a little bit about that whole story of how that happened and why it's wrong?

Dr. Saladino
Yeah. So based on what you already laid out, I'm sure the listener can imagine how evolutionarily inconsistent it would be for a food that was at the center of the human diet for the last three to four million years would be bad for us. That doesn't make any sense. OK, but there's, quote, science. So let's talk about why this is so misleading.

Dr. Saladino
So what you are referring to is a 2015 IARC report from the International Association for Research on Cancer, which is a WHO/FAO type of committee on cancer. And they met to review all of the studies that they could find connecting red meat and cancer. So it wasn't an actual experiment. It was a consensus decision by a group of scientists, which can also be valuable. But, and they came out in 2015 and said red meat is a class to a carcinogen, which means that we're pretty sure it's a or maybe it was 2B, 2A or 2B.

Dr. Saladino
They give gradings to the recommendations based on the strength of the evidence. And so then they said that processed meat was a 2A carcinogen and red meat was a 2B carcinogen, meaning there was a little bit less evidence that unprocessed red meat was a carcinogen and there was more evidence that processed meat was a carcinogen. So they're making these recommendations.

Dr. Saladino
And you said, OK, well, how do they get these recommendations? They didn't do an experiment. They're reviewing the data. Well, they're super smart scientists, right? We should trust them. Well, in 2018 and this caused a huge hubbub in 2015. In 2018, the actual explanation of how they arrived at those decisions came out.

Dr. Saladino
And when you read that, it paints a very different story. So these, there were many scientists, I think over 20 scientists that sat down and I think it was in France and they had over four hundred studies to review and they excluded all the studies except 14. So that decision is based on 14 studies. They just took everything else. They said that's not valid. It's not that experiment wasn't done well enough. It doesn't it's not an appropriate model.

Dr. Saladino
They excluded all the animal studies. So there were no animal models. Right. And every single one of the studies they looked at was epidemiology. So in that consensus report, they used 14 epidemiology studies. Now, this is worth diving into because it causes so much confusion and consternation. Epidemiology is observational research. There is no experiments done. Most of us from science class imagine that all the studies we hear about on the news are interventional. You combine two chemicals, you get a color change, you take a group of rats, you give them more sugar or more fat, and you see what happens.

Dr. Saladino
You take a group of humans and you give them a drug and you see what happens. This isn't what this IRC report is referring to. There have been studies done in which people have replaced carbohydrates with red meat. And in fact, those studies do not show any harm for red meat. They show decreasing CRP and no changes in other markers of inflammation. But was that an interventional study included in this decision? No. No interventional studies were included in this decision.

Dr. Saladino
They were all epidemiology, which is survey-based research. And so what these researchers did was look at 14 different types of, 14 different studies. And all of these studies were either prospective or retrospective cohort study. So they take a group of people and they give them a survey. And they say, how much red meat did you eat over the last 10 or 15 years? And then they looked to see how healthy these people are and they try and correlate those two. Or they'll take a cohort of people and say how much red meat you eat now and then follow them moving forward for 10 or 15 years and see how many of them develop health problems. And at first glance, that sounds reasonable, right?

Dr. Saladino
Except here's the problem. Epidemiology, observational studies can only tell us about correlation. You can't make a causative inference from that because just because somebody eats more red meat, it doesn't mean that the red meat caused the problems.

Allan
I think you had a really good example. You had a really good example in the book about divorce rate in Maine.

Dr. Saladino
Yeah, there's a great website called SpuriousCorrelations.com, where people can see these sort of the hilarity that ensues when you try and connect correlation with causation. Many things correlate. The divorce rate in Maine correlates with the per capita margarine consumption over the last eight or nine years to a very, very high degree. Does that mean that as people ate less margarine, they got divorced less? No, but it makes absolutely no sense. But you can correlate these two things.

Dr. Saladino
You can also correlate things like deaths by getting tangled in the bedsheets with per capita cheese consumption and the number of movies Nicolas Cage has appeared in with, I think something with pool drownings or something. You know. You can correlate all kinds of things that don't have any connection. And in the case of red meat, you've already really alluded to the problem that for the last 70 years the narrative has been fat is bad for you, red meat is bad for you. So who eats red meat over the last 70 years?

Dr. Saladino
People that are rebels people that also probably are less likely to go in the sun, less likely to play tennis on a Tuesday morning, less likely go to their doctor to get a colonoscopy or mammograms, less likely to get pap smears, less likely to do other types of health behaviors. Exercise, meditate. These are just these are the types of things more likely to smoke, more likely to drink alcohol.

Dr. Saladino
These are the type of things that are very hard for epidemiology to control for. But the people who eat red meat consistently do worse in the United States because they are the people who are rebels. In the book, I call them the James Dean types. And the converse is also true. Who has eaten more vegetables over the last 70 years?

Dr. Saladino
Well, it's the people that I gave a high five to at the beginning of this podcast who are making intentional choices with regard to their diet. Now, they're also doing other healthy things. You don't just listen to health advice on diet, you also listen to health advice on exercise and go out in the sun and you do other things that are good for you. You're more likely to be of a higher socioeconomic status because you have the ability to do those things.

Dr. Saladino
So it creates this really confounded story regarding what are these studies actually telling us. But really the narrative doesn't end here. If you look at those 14 studies considered by the IARC, are you ready for this, only 8 of the 14 to start with, 8 of the 14 did not show any association between red meat and cancer. And if people are just kind of like scratching their head right now, OK, so 8 of the 14 studies showed no association between red meat and cancer. Granted, these are epidemiology. But 8 of the 14 association, the majority of the studies, no association between red meat and cancer.

Dr. Saladino
6 of the 14 showed association between red meat and cancer. But of that six, five of them, that's association was not statistically significant. So not only is epidemiology confounded by these biases and does it not allow us to make a causative inference from correlation if we do the math and the correlation is not even statistically significant, we can't even actually say that it's a real correlation.

Dr. Saladino
It could be due to other errors. It's not a big enough difference. So what I'm saying is that 1 of the 14 studies, 1, showed a statistically significant correlation between red meat and cancer. And we can dig into that one study even further and say, what was that one study done? That one study was done in a population of Seventh Day Adventists, which is a religious group that shuns meat. So in that group, the people that eat meat are really going to be rebels because the rebels not only at a social level, the rebels at a religious level, and the whole Zygi, the whole environment of a Seventh Day Adventist community is a group that's mainly vegetarian.

Dr. Saladino
And if you're eating meat in that community, you are definitely an outlier and definitely sort of bucking other health norms. Likely they found that the people who ate more red meat in that study were also much more likely to be obese. This is the problem with epidemiology studies. Was it the obesity that led to more cancer or was it the red meat? Well, the study can't say, which is why you have to do interventional research. And as I said, there are many studies that have been done with red meat that are interventional.

Dr. Saladino
Take a group of people, give them more red meat, see what happens. They don't show any problems, no inflammation. It's very hard to study people at an international level for cancer. You'd have to give people more red meat for years and years. The epidemiologist is done for years. But at a molecular level, we can see that giving people more red meat does not. Lead to increases in inflammatory markers, which is what you would expect if it were going to trigger a cancer, it was going to do something bad if it's going to trigger a cancer.

Dr. Saladino
But this is really what the notion that red meat is bad for humans is based on. Badly done epidemiology in which 8 of 14 studies showed no correlation, 5 of 6 not statistically significant. Only 1 of 14 showed a statistically significant correlation between red meat and cancer. And in that study, it was badly confounded by unhealthy user bias. The last thing I'll say here to really drive this point home is if you look at epidemiology, again it's all flawed, none of it's perfect. But you can look at epidemiology from other countries like Asia, and you don't see the same correlation that you do in the West because the narrative is different there.

Dr. Saladino
There's very large epidemiology studies from Asia looking at over 180,000. Another one is 220,000 individuals followed for 5 to 15 years. And where they find the men who ate more red meat had less cardiovascular disease, the women who ate more red meat had less cancer. But they didn't think about that study at the IRC. and no one can explain that the only way then you could say is what? Red meat is good for Asians but bad for Westerners. That makes absolutely no sense. That's silly. It's possible. But that's not even that's really not a hypothesis anyone is going to entertain.

Dr. Saladino
The more plausible explanation is that the narrative is different. In Asia, We know this red meat is associated with athletes. So who eats more red meat? The same people that eat more vegetables in the US, the people that are more likely to exercise, they have more financial resources. The more people, people that are more likely to do things, go see their doctor, less likely to smoke, less likely to be obese because they have more of an investment in their health.

Dr. Saladino
So this is really how we get misled about red meat and cancer, red meat and heart disease, red meat and longevity. It's all the same story over and over. And I go through all of these in the book and debunk these myths one by one and give tons of references. The book has over 650 references. And I show, hey these things you've been told you've been misled. These are based on observational epidemiology. And when I have it, which is most of the time I share interventional studies with argue, which argue completely against it and say, hey, look, this is much more valid.

Dr. Saladino
Very savvy listeners will know that in 2019, another study came out in the Annals of Internal Medicine that was super controversial. A separate group of researchers looked at the IARCs findings in 2018 and said, that's hogwash. You guys excluded all these studies. You didn't weigh them properly. You didn't use any interventional studies. In the Animals of Internal Medicine. Two studies came out in 2019 saying red meat is not bad for humans. We're going to look at this evidence again. Red meat is not bad for humans, but we get this like propaganda in our heads. And now we're so scared. We're fearful as humans.

Dr. Saladino
Nobody wants to die early. Everybody wants to see their grandkids grow up. We don't know what to do. And I think as humans, it's been part of our consciousness for 70 years. And we suddenly are just it's very hard to get it out of our out of our out of our paradigm, out of our perspective and really look at the data. And we have Ancel Keys and originally very bad epidemiology from the 1970s to think that that's a whole separate story.

Allan
Yes, it is. Now, one of the other things I found kind of fascinating, frustrating, terrifying, was that the advice at one time was to tear your kale and let it sit for about 10 minutes. So the toxicity that would happen would be at the highest level. So we would get this hormesis this effect from the kale, and it makes it that much better for us. I can't tell you how many times I tore the kale and let it sit for 10 minutes before I ate it. Can we talk a little bit about plant toxins and why you know, that kind of hormesis might not be what we actually really need.

Dr. Saladino
Yeah, so this is a little bit of a complex point, but I'll try and break it down in the simplest terms for me. Hormesis is a word that basically means what doesn't kill you makes you stronger up to a point until it kills you. Hopefully most of your listeners have seen The Princess Bride where Dread Pirate Roberts is talking to the Sicilian and they're having this battle with iocane powder and maybe people haven't. But he says, you know, he give he says he gives them two cups of water to put iocane powder in one of these cups. And it's a poison. It's obviously a fictitious poison. And I'm going to, you get to choose, you know, the Dread Pirate Roberts is talking to the Sicilian and saying, you choose which one.

Dr. Saladino
And he puts it in both, right, and they both drink, and so the Sicilian dies and he goes, Oh, how did you you tricked me. He said, Yeah, I tricked you. I put it in both. I've been slowly developing this this the strength to iocane powder over the years. That's how hormones this is supposed to work. But it doesn't quite work like that. You know, a little bit of poison is supposed to make you a little stronger. But it does and it doesn't. So here's the problem. The concept of hormesis, I believe, conflated between what I call in the book environmental hormesis and molecular hormesis.

Dr. Saladino
Environmental hormesis, this is a pretty well-established concept. It's the idea that a little bit of sunlight, a little bit of heat stress, like a sauna, cold plunge, ketosis. These are environmental hermetic, so not molecules, they're experiences. I could have also called it experimental hormesis, but these are things that we encounter in our life that our ancestors always encountered fasting, starvation for a short amount of time, leading to ketosis.

Dr. Saladino
These are things that we've always encountered evolutionarily that cause our body of stress going to the gym and lifting weights, going for a walk, going for a jog. These are hormesis. Exercise is a experiential or environmental hermetic. A little bit of that makes you it gets a little bit of a toxin. You know, that if you lift weights too much, you're going to be sore. If you go out in the sun too much, it's going to you're going to feel it. You go in the sauna, you're like, whoa, that was intense, right?

Dr. Saladino
You feel it. It causes a little stress, but what is your body do in response to that stress? It gets stronger. Anyone who's ever exercised to lose weight or lifting weights and seen their muscles grow, will realize the stress makes you stronger. Now, at a certain point, it's going to break you. If you lift too much weight, you're just going to tear the muscle or break a bone. If you run too much, you're going to stress fracture, etc. But there is a concept that a little bit of a poison makes you stronger when it comes to experience or environment.

Dr. Saladino
Now we have applied this concept to plant molecules incorrectly, I believe. And the reason it's incorrect is we've forgotten that molecules come with side effects. If you look at the research on Sulforaphane for instance, which is the glucose scintillate, which becomes an Isothiocyanate, in kale when you when you rip it up, it has been shown to increase glutathione in the human body. But it's also been shown to do many other negative things that we're never told about. It's just like when any of the listeners go to the pharmacy and you get a prescription for a medication. That medication comes with a package insert, in the package insert tells you, hey, this medicine is metoprolol or lisinopril or a statin. And I hope that, I don't prescribe those medications much at all in my practice anymore. And I hope that most of your listeners are healthy enough to have avoided them.

Dr. Saladino
But we all know this. If you go to a pharmacy and get a medication that comes with side effects, antibiotic, whatever, all the molecules that are foreign to human biology have this. They all have it. sulforaphane has it, curcumin has it, resveratrol has it. All of these plant molecules, we've been told are so good for us also have package inserts, but we're never handed them because they're not considered to be pharmaceuticals. But they are.

Dr. Saladino
They are definitely pharmaceuticals. And many plant molecules are used and developed into drugs. Most of the chemotherapy that we use for cancer is from plants, paclitaxel, etc. There's lots of chemotherapy from plants. Well. In the case of chemotherapy, it's pretty clear the chemotherapy might kill some cancer cells, but it's also going to kill your cells and chemotherapy has very clear bad side effects. But it's the same with other plant molecules.

Dr. Saladino
So if the plant molecules have a bad side effect in the case of sulforaphane that Isothiocyanate in the kale you're eating, that one has a side effect of inhibiting the absorption of iodine at the level of your thyroid and causing damage to cellular membranes and oxidizing your DNA, which can also lead to problems and cancers. And people who have eaten too much kale may also get GI effects, you know, gas bloating or other issues. And so it's pretty clear that sulforaphane or other compounds in these vegetables are also harming our gut.

Dr. Saladino
But we're never told about those things. We're only told these are good for you. Eat more of this. Well, it's pretty clear those are plant toxins. We're told they're antioxidants, but they're not. They're pro-oxidants. And they cause our body to increase its own endogenous antioxidants.

Dr. Saladino
But here's the kicker. You don't need any more antioxidants if you are doing the environmental hormesis, if you are doing experiential hormesis, exercise, cold plumbing, sauna, being in the sun at a healthy level, fasting occasionally. There are many good studies that I show in the book that suggest vegetables don't do anything extra for you from an antioxidant perspective. There are many studies in the book that I share in reference that show inclusion of massive amounts of fruits and vegetables don't improve markers of oxidative stress, inflammation or DNA damage.

Dr. Saladino
And what they do do is cause you all these harm on the back end. They cause all this collateral damage because of the side effects. So when you're ripping that kale, you're thinking I'm getting, quote, antioxidants. Well, no. Sulforaphane is a pro-oxidant and it's very clearly a plant defense molecule. It doesn't participate directly in any human biochemistry. Sulforaphane causes free radical production, Sulforaphane causes oxidative stress. You can get it to bump up your glutathione a little bit, which is this endogenous antioxidant.

Dr. Saladino
But you can also bump your glutathione, this molecular policeman in the human body by doing cold plunge, by doing sauna, by doing exercise. And then you won't have any of the side effects from the so forth thing and you'll probably have a lot less gas and your thyroid will be much healthier in the long run. So this is essentially what I'm saying here. There's a real difference between molecular hormesis and environmental hormesis, and we don't need plant molecules to be optimal.

Dr. Saladino
That's been demonstrated over and over and over. And we must not forget the side effects that these molecules have in human physiology. And that, I fear, is where many people are suffering unnecessarily.

Allan
Yeah, I think one of the points I had early on when the Carnivore diet started getting a little bit more popular is just like ketosis. They come forward with an idea. And everybody thinks of the keto diet now as the bacon diet, people that are going to keep the “bacon! bacon!” And yes, you can have bacon, but not just bacon. Something else, please. A lot of people that are in carnivore are doing something very similar, like 30 days, just eating rib-eye steaks or they'll go 30 days just eating bacon. And yeah, they lose weight. They say they feel great because they do get into ketosis, but they're not getting everything they need either. There's a right way and a wrong way to do Carnivore.

Dr. Saladino
Yeah. And I think it goes back to what we spoke about earlier. Just how did our ancestors do it, both out of respect for the animal and just from an environmental sort of caloric perspective. They ate the animal nose to tail. So I'm a really big advocate for this. This is understanding that you cannot just eat steaks and be on a carnivore diet in a healthy way that's going to cause a folate deficiency.

Dr. Saladino
So I talked about all these micronutrients earlier in the podcast and they are found throughout the animal. A cow is not just animal meat all through the cow. A cow has a liver and a stomach and a spleen and heart and a kidney and intestines. And you know what most of us will think of it is gross. And that's one of the reasons that I'm so interested in developing some adjuncts to help people get more organs in their diet, which I'll talk about in a moment, but it's something that our ancestors have always done. And so anyone that's listening to this, that's from an ethnic background, your family probably ate heart or liver or kidney or spleen.

Dr. Saladino
And, you know, maybe as a kid, you were like, I don't know about that, but it's relished by indigenous people. Liver is sacred. It's not even touched by human hands in a lot of cultures. It's the first thing you eat. If we look at the way animals who are carnivorous eat other animals, they always go for the viscera first, they'll eat the liver. And it sounds morbid, but it's like, hey, look, we're just trying to appreciate the sacrifice that animal has made for us and get all the nutrients we can. I've seen video of ORCA's eating sharks and they just eat the liver. They don't eat the animal meat. They just eat the liver out of the shark. All these animals realize the liver and these other organs are super beneficial for nutrients.

Dr. Saladino
The liver is a very rich place for folate, choline, vitamin K2, Riboflavin. If listeners are unsure of this, I'll ask them the question, where do you get your riboflavin? I think riboflavin is the most commonly deficient nutrient in human populations in 2020 that no one knows about. Vitamin B2, you really can't get it from plants and you can't get it from muscle meat in enough quantity, but you can get it from the heart or liver.

Dr. Saladino
So and I realize this is a very hard thing. This is probably the biggest piece for people that's challenging is how do I eat organ meats. So it's so exciting to be able to I wanted to build a company to help people do this. This company is it launched at the beginning of August and this podcast is coming out later in August. It's called Heart and Soil, HeartandSoilSupplements.com. What we do is we take organs from grass-fed grass, finished animals in New Zealand, and we desiccate them with low temperature, dehydrate them and we encapsulate them into a pill. We're basically making organ meat pills to help people get the organs. If they don't want to eat the liver.

Dr. Saladino
I think the best thing is to eat real liver or not even. It's not that the pills aren't real liver. Just the best thing is to eat fresh liver or fresh heart. But if you can't do that, that's one of the reasons I'm so excited about being able to do this for people in this business at Heart and Soil is to get them desiccated organ pills. But there's a real option for people now because you can take them in a pill that's been low temperature hydrated to get the organs.

Dr. Saladino
But if you're not eating the organs, whether you're eating plants or not, you're missing out on nutrients. It's not just for carnivores. They're for everyone. It's for you and your grandma and your kids. My sister has a two and a half-year-old and an eight-month-old, and both of them get these organ meat pills. She just opens them up and sprinkles them on the food, mixes it with hamburger. Neither of them can swallow a pill, but she can open the pill and sprinkle the powder onto something and put it mixed in with ground beef for Luke, my nephew and Michaela.

Dr. Saladino
And it works great. And they get these nutrients. But that's what kids need and that's what adults need. Even if you're eating plants, you still are not getting enough choline. You're still not getting enough folate. You're still not getting enough riboflavin. What about zinc? What about copper? What about selenium? What about manganese or about boron? What about K2? There's so rich in the organ meats.

Dr. Saladino
The other piece of this equation is methionine and Glycine. And this comes in with collagen. Collagen is thankfully specifically kind of quote, an organ meat that has become much more in vogue recently. People are all about bone broth. They understand the incredible benefits of this for skin, hair and nails health. But a lot of people in the Carnivore world don't even do bone broth. They just eat steak and you need to get the connective tissue.

Dr. Saladino
So one of my favorite things to do every day is to make bone broth. I don't make it every day, but I eat it every day and I make it just by putting bones and tendons in an instant pot and then drinking that it gets collagenous and kind of jelly in the fridge. And then you're getting tendons. Well, the tendons are rich in glycine, it's an amino acid that complements with thymine and which is rich in muscle meat.

Dr. Saladino
And so together these helper biochemistry run in the best way to get too much thiamine without enough glycine. And there's a real problem in human biochemistry. So but again, it all works when you eat like your ancestors. If you eat the animal nose to tail, there are no nutrient deficiencies that will develop in humans. So I will repeat that, because that's a very important statement. Eating animals nose to tail provides humans with all of the nutrients they need to thrive. End of story, full stop, period. That's it. That's why it was so easy for our ancestors if they had to go hunt and gather a blueberry, a little bit of this route, a little bit of that plant to get all their nutrients. It's really hard. I don't know if anyone's done a plant based diet, but I was vegan for seven months. I was Rovi for seven months. About fifteen years ago. I had to work so hard to get all the nutrients I needed.

Dr. Saladino
Where do you get your zinc, pumpkin seeds? Well, I don't really like pumpkin seeds. Like that's the only source of zinc I could find in any appreciable quantity on a plant-based diet. So to get adequacy on a plant-based diet, you have to eat 37 different foods that are never all in season at the same time that never would have grown together at one time. You can't get all the nutrition you need from eating plants, period.

Dr. Saladino
All the nutrients I mentioned earlier and even just to get basic nutrients, you have to eat twenty-five different plants that never occurred together on the face of the earth. Evolutionarily it's really hard. You want to get all the nutrients you need eating animals, eat a steak, add some liver, you're pretty much done. Add some bone broth steak and liver. Now you can add other things for variety, but you'll get everything you need. The first thing people think about is vitamin C, and I address this in the book.

Dr. Saladino
There's plenty of vitamin C in animal foods that are fresh. We know that animal meat has vitamin C, animal organs have more vitamin C than the muscle meat. No one has gotten scurvy eating animal foods when they're fresh. This doesn't happen. There are thousands of people doing this. I don't believe vitamin C, I don't have scurvy, but vitamin C level is just fine. You can get vitamin C in whole foods. That's a whole other rabbit hole.

Dr. Saladino
But even beyond vitamin C, you don't need fiber. I address that myth in the book. You can definitely poop without fiber and multiple poop, even better without fiber. So again, this leads us to so many of these rabbit hole, whichever one you want, but eating from the nose to tail is so critical, and that's why I think the supplements can be helpful at heart and soil or just eating the organ meats that you get from a good farm is critical along with bone broth. And the only other thing I'll say here is that a carnivore diet also doesn't have to be ketotic. I think that low carbohydrate states would have happened. I think humans would have been in ketosis absolutely frequently, but I don't think we were in ketosis all the time.

Dr. Saladino
And so if ketosis is a stumbling block for you know, that in the book I talk about tier one through five carnivore diets and have a stepping stone. And in the Tier 1 diet, I outline which plant foods are the most toxic and which plant foods are the least toxic. And I think the least toxic plant foods are the fruit. They're the part of the plant that the plant wants you to eat. So things like squash or avocado or olives or berries or even apples and oranges, I think these are reasonable for most people.

Dr. Saladino
And you can get carbohydrates in your diet on a, quote, animal-based diet on a Carnivore ish type diet. So don't fear this. If ketosis is scary, if you want to do a ketogenic diet, you absolutely can. I found for myself and most people, cycling in carbohydrates in the form of low toxicity fruit works best. It's probably what our ancestors would have done and things like Honey, so raw, organic honey is a great adjunct that people think about all the sugar.

Dr. Saladino
I have a podcast. It's called Fundamental Health. I've addressed all this on the podcast. We talk about it in the book. You don't want to overeat fructose and fruit, but reasonable amounts look pretty darn safe for humans. You know, if you're eating less than seventy-five grams of fructose a day, which is a lot of fruit, your liver can handle it just fine. You'll be fine. That's even a very large amount. Most people don't get more than twenty or thirty grams of fructose a day.

Dr. Saladino
And so reasonable intakes of fruit and honey, totally safe for humans, not type of naturally occurring sugar is not bad for us. You don't have to fear it in any way, shape or form.

Allan
Dr. Saladino, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Dr. Saladino
So I think that you need to understand food. Food is a big lever, right? So that's what we've been talking about this whole time. Understand what foods nourish your body and understand what foods harm your body or are causing problems for your body.

Dr. Saladino
So that's what the book is about. And again, it's not it's not about convincing the world to stop eating plants. It's about helping people understand that animal foods, red meat critically vital for humans, very nutritious, not harmful, wrongly vilified, plant foods exist on a toxicity spectrum, can be harmful for a lot of people. Eat the least toxic ones if you need variety, color, flavor. But understanding which foods help your body thrive will be the first step.

Dr. Saladino
That's critical. And then at the end of the book, I also talk about how to live like our ancestors. And we've hinted at this previously with our discussions of environmental hormesis. It's also sunlight, community, cold plunging, sauna, exercise outside, occasional fasting. These are all normal things. I think if you do those things. And then the third piece for me would be doing something that you care about finding meaning in your own life.

Dr. Saladino
And I'm so grateful to be able to do this work. It's it's been a challenging road for me because so many of these ideas are so controversial. But I really believe that this knowledge needs to be out there. There are a lot of people who are being misled and their lives are suffering because of it. And so doing something that you find meaningful in your life is probably the third critical piece.

Allan
Cool. Well, thank you. And if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, The Carnivore Code and that supplement company you were talking about, where would you like for me to send them?

Dr. Saladino
So the book is TheCarnivorecodebook.com. That's the website. You can check it out. It's out now. It's, I imagine I really think it's going to sell really well and hopefully we're going to affect a lot of lives positively. The website for my company, HeartandSoilSupplements.com. So heartandsoilsupplements.com, you can find all those organ pills if you want to include more liver or bone marrow or heart or spleen, any of the organs in your diet. We've got them on there for you. And my website is Carnivoremd.com.

Allan
So you could go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/448 and I'll be sure to have the links there. Dr. Saladino, thank you for being a part of 40+ fitness.

Dr. Saladino
It's my pleasure.



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