How A Carnivore Diet Affects Gut Health And Microbiome

The carnivore diet has several health-related benefits, the most prominent of which is significant weight loss. However, prospective participants in this diet will want to know how it affects all of your body’s systems - including your gut health and the associated microbiome.  So, how does a carnivore diet affect gut health and microbiome? The […]
Josh Koop
March 23, 2020

The carnivore diet has several health-related benefits, the most prominent of which is significant weight loss. However, prospective participants in this diet will want to know how it affects all of your body’s systems - including your gut health and the associated microbiome. 

So, how does a carnivore diet affect gut health and microbiome? The main effect of a carnivore diet on your gut health is a limited production of diversified microbiomes. As you’re eating only one group of foods, your stomach does not need a large set of microbiomes to break down multiple types of food. 

Understanding the effect of the carnivore diet on your gut health is essential in deciding whether to move forward with this dietary change or not. To learn more about your gut microbiome, and how a carnivore diet might affect it, read on. 

What is the Gut Microbiome, and How Does it Affect Your Health?

Let’s start by wrapping our heads around the concepts that currently populate most diet guidebooks: gut health and the microbiome. These two terms are interconnected and influence our overall health and the strength of our immune system.

Every part of our body, inside or outside, is home to different colonies of microorganisms. These single-celled entities compose the human microbiome and include bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Each of these microbes has a specific function, such as fighting pathogens, breaking down breast milk, and strengthening the immune system. 

The most diverse microbiome environment exists in the gut. Each of us has built a different gut microbiome over the years, and the types of microbes that live in the gut depend largely on what we eat, our environment, and the medications we take. 

If you think that the link between your microbiome and your health is weak, think again. These microorganisms are integral to the body’s response to a variety of conditions, including the following:

  • Response to medical treatments (such as chemotherapy and HIV medications)
  • Sleep Quality
  • Mood
  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Autism
  • Digestion

Microbiome and the Immune System

As mentioned above, the microbiome is also responsible for the well-being and regulation of our immune system. The immune system includes cells that, by responding to threatening foreign substances, protect us from diseases and medical conditions. Through the years, it has evolved along with our gut microbiome and flora. This interrelationship is essential for the development of beneficial microorganisms and the elimination of pathogens.

Probiotics. Bifidobacterium, lactobacillus, streptococcus thermophilus, lactococcus, propionibacterium
Probiotics. Bifidobacterium, lactobacillus, streptococcus thermophilus, lactococcus, propionibacterium

What Happens to Your Gut Microbiome When You’re on a Carnivore Diet

While we first start building our specific gut microbiome from birth, it can change over time. These changes directly correlate with the environment we live in and our long-term diet. However, just a few days on a different eating plan can cause changes to occur in your gut microbiome.

Somebody on an omnivore diet will have an entirely different microbiome than somebody on a plant-based diet. This variation happens because the microbiome in our bodies is responsible for breaking down foods. Therefore, different foods call for different microbiomes to effectively process the foods that come in.

When we follow an omnivore or Mediterranean diet that involves eating many different vegetables and grains, our gut will need a variety of organisms that are able to break down the different ingredients. However, the flesh of all animals require is relatively similar and therefore requires fewer types of microbes. As a result, while following a carnivore diet, your gut flora will have a less diverse microbiome.

Unfortunately, there are no studies supporting whether this can is beneficial or detrimental to your health. However, we can explore some of the dietary changes it causes, and we can extrapolate health benefits based on this. 

The carnivore diet is a no-carb, high-protein, high-fat lifestyle. This change in eating habits causes our bodies to stop sourcing energy from sugar, as sugar is now largely absent. Instead, our guts break down fat and extract energy from it. This metabolic process is known as ketosis, which we have a post on over here.

Researchers are examining the effects of ketogenic diets (which include carnivore diets) on our guts. The results, so far, are diverse. Some studies report that ketosis could contribute to balancing the bacterial composition of our intestines. However, other research shows that eating one group of foods only leads to less diverse gut flora.

These changes in the gut microbiome happen within a few weeks of following a specific diet. However, there are not enough studies supporting the long-term effects of an all-meat diet on our gut to make a claim regarding whether it is ultimately beneficial or not. 

Gut Microbes Word Cloud - How A Carnivore Diet Affects Gut Health And Microbiome

The Benefits of a Carnivore Diet on Gut Health

Now are all caught up with everything happening in your belly after you have finished a juicy steak. But what do these effects actually mean for our health?

No More Sugar

If you’re on a strict carnivore diet, you’re not eating any sugar. And as you eliminate sugar from your diet, you are effectively removing the biggest threat to a healthy gut. We often use much more sugar than we think we are: in coffee, tea, sandwiches, sodas, and even fruits. This complete removal might seem a little extreme at first, but it can help your gut clean out all the residual sugars and focus entirely on digesting protein and fat.

No More Bloating

The main culprits of feeling bloated are fibers and legumes. There is nothing worse than finishing up the meal of your dreams and suddenly feeling bloated. This condition regularly affects over 30% of people worldwide and happens due to a poor diet or other specific intolerance.

As you eliminate fibers, legumes, and dairy products from your diet, you can finally enjoy your feeling of fullness without any pain or grogginess!

No More Processed Junk Foods and Artificial Additives

Of course, the quality of meat that you are going to buy depends entirely on you and your budget. However, eliminating cookies, pasta, sodas, candies, and pastries can remove most processed foods and additives, which will certainly help to clean up your gut. By getting rid of such foods, you can enjoy higher levels of energy and increased weight loss.

Illustration about Gut Bacteria - How A Carnivore Diet Affects Gut Health And Microbiome
Illustration about Gut Bacteria

Risks to Look Out For

While its benefits are undeniable, a strict carnivore diet might not be an optimal choice for everybody. It can frequently come with some gut-related side effects that you should take into consideration before starting. 

Digestion Problems 

Due to the lack of fibers, constipation can be a side effect of a carnivore diet. This will depend a lot on the diet you changed from if the previous diet was high in carbohydrates many times people end up with diarrhea.

So that means, in some other cases, diarrhea issues are far more prevalent and causes are mixed. This issue can occur due to the gut microbiome changing to manage meat processing better but due to this because you are ingesting higher quantities of fats compared to omnivores you get some short time issues. 

When you’re on an entirely meat-based diet, you source our energy from fat. On average our bodies break down fats in a much slower way than they do carbohydrates, like sugars. This process results in an increased amount of fats and water in your gut that without processing, will leave your body quickly.

Lack of Fiber

The lack of fiber in a carnivore diet inhibits the production of prebiotics and, therefore, of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These compounds protect your colon from cancer, limit inflammation, and reduce the risk of common diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes. By eliminating fiber, you could possibly increase your risk of dealing with these other complications. 

Final Thoughts

While no diet works perfectly for everybody, the carnivore diet has some definite benefits. It can help you get rid of some extra weight while increasing your energy level and preserving your health. 

And much like any other diet, it can have a significant impact on your gut health. Indeed, eating only one group of food requires a much less diversified gut microbiome. The health benefits of these changes are today espoused by endless testimonials throughout the world. 

While, in the short term, this diet can help you fight inflammation and obesity, the long term effects of these eating habits are still not apparent.

A carnivore diet, like all other diets has no long term viable facts as to whether totally safe. It can be noted that 50 years on the Standard American Diet has done our country no good and has caused more health issues than it ever fixed.

If you read this far you are amazing! I would love to hear from you in the comments below if I helped you gain knowledge and useful information, additionally I would like to know if I got anything incorrect that you believe should be researched more and updated. As always to get the word out please join our new Carnivore Rx group on Facebook and share this out on social media!

Sources

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