The Carnivore Code: A Controversial Dietary Approach

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Blog | Nov, 03 2020

The Carnivore Code: A Controversial Dietary Approach


WARNING – This blog will be viewed as highly controversial to many in our community. For those of you who have followed me for years, you know that I like to dive into the research about ALL aspects of healing. Just as we have different personalities, skills, likes, and dislikes, and life experiences, we are also unique when it comes to our health. With this in mind, I also think that it is important to learn about different ways of eating, however radical they may be so,  that we can decide for ourselves if they are right for us or not.

Test, test test in order to assess what works for your health and healing. I am not endorsing the Carnivore Code way of eating. I am simply presenting this information for you. It may or may not resonate with you. 

Dr. Paul Saladino’s “Carnivore Diet” has gotten a lot of attention lately. In this article, I’ll give you the “meat and potatoes” (minus the potatoes) of what his new book, “The Carnivore Code,” is all about as well as present some science-based ways that you can determine if it is right for you.  

About Dr. Paul Saladino

Dr. Paul Saladino is a nutritional biochemist and integrative medicine doctor in private practice in San Diego, California. He suffered from autoimmune disease-related eczema and infections for years. Like so many natural health experts, Dr. Saladino stumbled upon his unique way of eating after trying many different diets.

The Carnivore Code
Even though I will not be diving into 100% carnivore eating any time soon, I definitely appreciate all the research Dr. Saladino has done in putting together his new book!

As he explains it, one day he had an epiphany:

What if my autoimmune issues and so many of the inflammatory problems we see manifested as chronic disease today could be triggered by the plants we are eating?

The idea seemed pretty far out there to him at the time since he had been a vegan for many years. But he heard some pretty impressive testimonials from others about the benefits of all-meat eating. After months of research, he decided to give it a try.

Dr. Saladino claims that he noticed a difference in his health right away.

“Within the first three days, I knew there was something special about this way of eating. I began to feel a level of emotional calm and an increasingly positive outlook on life, unlike anything I had experienced before… I now believe that this was due to the gradual resolution of low-level inflammation in my body that began in my gut and was translated into my brain.”

Dr. Saladino has been on an all-meat diet for a number of years. He claims that he feels great and all his bloodwork continues to come out normal or better than normal.

His book, “The Carnivore Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Optimal Health by Returning to Our Ancestral Diet,” was just released at the beginning of 2020 and he has already appeared on shows like “The Doctors” and received endorsements by the likes of David Asprey and Dr. Mercola.

So what is the buzz all about?

The Carnivore Code in a Nutshell

Dr. Saladino states that the carnivore diet is “a diet that emphasizes animal foods, that focuses on animal foods, and (an) understanding that the majority of our nutrients are coming from animal foods.”

In the book, he describes 5 Tiers of individuals who choose to eat the carnivore diet. Tier 5 is the most extreme – no plant matter whatsoever.

Tier 1 people Dr. Saladino describes as “carnivore-ish.” These individuals choose to eat moderate amounts of certain plant foods that have the least amount of toxins, such as avocados, berries, or squash, but still derived most of their nutrients from animal-based foods.

Dr. Saladino also states that there is actually very little scientific evidence that eating more plants will lead to better health.

He even goes a step further to state that eating excess amounts of certain plants could actually be damaging to health over the long term. This the reason why a practitioner of his carnivore diet will consume either no plant matter or some plant matter with attention to a spectrum of plant toxicity. We will go into what this means a little later on in this article.

Nose to Tail Nutrition

NOSE TO TAIL EATINGAn important concept outlined in the Carnivore Code is called “nose to tail nutrition.” This emphasizes the importance of eating organ meats, not just muscle meats, from humanely-treated, organically-fed, and pasture-raised animals for maximum nutrition. Organs that come from ruminants (beef, bison, deer, etc.) versus poultry or swine are particularly important.

“Animal meat and organs are the most nutrient-rich and bioavailable foods on the planet. They’ve been incredibly vilified for the last 60 years, but they’re an integral part of every healthy human diet,” Dr. Saladino explained in a recent interview for U.S. News and World Report.

To support this, Saladino cites nutritional science as well as anthropology and animal behavior.

It has long been known that people in tribal cultures ate every part of the animals they killed, including the bones (to be boiled down as bone broth). Even the skins were utilized for the nutrient-rich fats they contained.

In the 1800s, points out Dr. Saladino, backcountry trappers became increasingly sick when they began eating just muscle meats. When they went back to eating organs, their health improved.

And in the arena of animal behavior, organ meats are often prized possessions reserved from the alpha male of the pack.

Indeed, modern nutritional science has confirmed what traditional cultures knew so many years ago. Organ meats, in general, will tend to have way more nutrients by far than the typical cuts most Americans are used to. B, D, and E vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, and even vitamin C can be found in organ meats such as liver, kidney, heart, and brain.

The Carnivore Diet is Not the Ketogenic Diet


Saladino makes it a point to differentiate between the ketogenic diet and the carnivore diet. In keto, you may know that the emphasis is on achieving what is called “ketosis.” Ketosis is where the body is burning ketones instead of glucose for fuel. This is achieved primarily through consuming large amounts of healthy fat, a moderate amount of protein, and very minimal carbohydrates.

Chasing ketosis is not the ultimate aim of the carnivore diet. This is because the carnivore diet relies on less fat and significantly more protein than keto.

Dr. Saladino says that eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day is safe for most people. In his book and in talks, he often sights studies to prove this point.

Environmental Versus Molecular Hormesis

Hormesis comes from the Greek word meaning to “excite.” In medical terms, hormesis is a fairly new field of study which focuses on how certain doses of toxins can hurt while other dose amounts may be beneficial for health.  

According to McGill University, “tiny doses of toxins in the body …’ excite’ the body’s immune system and repair mechanisms, allowing for a better response to chemical insults.”

Dr. Saladino was the person to coin the terms “environmental hormesis” and “molecular hormesis,” although modern science had been on to the concept for a while. Molecular hormesis is sometimes known as “xenohormesis.”

According to Saladino, environmental hormesis is experienced in the body when it is exposed to things like hot/cold, cryotherapy, hyperthermia, fasting, or cardio exercise. These stressors to the body, if utilized within reason, create toxins such as Heat Shock Proteins. These are gentle enough to not cause damage to the body.

Plants and the toxins they create catalyze molecular hormesis in the body. According to Dr. Saladino, the little-discussed side effects of many plant toxins, especially when a plant substance is taken over the long term, can have vastly negative consequences for health. He says that these side effects are the “package inserts” that we never hear about.

“I won’t debate that plants can be beneficial as a medicine. But to use them as foods presupposes that molecular hormesis is good for us…” Dr. Saladino said in a recent interview.

 For Dr. Saladino and others, the dangerous levels of toxins emitted by most plants just make sense. While humans and animals have the mobility to help them survive, plants are stationary. They can only defend themselves through the chemical toxins that they release when faced with a threat.

He and others speculate that perhaps we as well as other mammals developed complicated detoxification mechanisms in the liver and elsewhere in order to filter plant toxins when they need to. This way mammals, including  men, could have the ability to eat plants sparingly when the game was scarce in order to avoid starvation.

Two Tests To Help You Decide

Now that you have learned about the Carnivore Diet, you may be wondering if it is right for you.  Testing is one way to help you find out. Here are a couple of tests that I recommend:

#1 Nutrition Genome.

Nutrition Genome
Nutrition Genome helps you to determine what foods are best for you based on your genetics.

This test helps you determine how your body naturally metabolizes food by looking at your genetics. It will determine what your strengths and weaknesses are in the areas of digestion, methylation, nutrients that best support your hormones, which foods you should avoid, and how you in particular may be adversely affected by poor sleep and stress.

On my health journey, this test really gave me a lot of clarity about which food choices were right for me. Nutrition Genome is affordable, easy, and can be done at home with a simple cheek swab.

To learn more about Nutrition Genome, check out my podcast interview with founder Alex Swanson. Listen to the end to receive a promo code for 10% off on an at-home kit! 

#2 Viome.

This is another great test that you can do easily and simply at home. Viome focuses on the digestive system. Helping you understand which nutrients and toxins are being produced by your gut microbiome. After you get your test results, you also receive nutritional recommendations via a computer or phone.

Viome Test
The Viome tests your gut microbiome and measures your health down to the molecular level

For Me, A Healthy Life Is All About Balance!

In the end, I have to say that I don’t personally endorse 100% carnivore but I do see the benefits of many of the nutrients that we get from clean, grass-fed organic meats as well as the nose to tail approach.

For me, what is truly important both on the plate and in our lives is balance. 

If you are at all curious about the science that he discusses, check out what Dr. Saladino has to say and do your own investigations. 

Then go get some key tests done and decide for yourself what works best for you!