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The Carnivore Diet - How Nutrition Affects Immunity

The primary concerns regarding the role of bioactive food components in immune function in patients on a hardcore carnivore diet are the lack of micronutrients required for a healthy immune system and the lack of bioactive components shown to lower inflammatory markers. In a carnivore diet, consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds is eliminated. Chronic systemic inflammation reduces lifespan by increasing the incidence of diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and certain cancers. The ability of fruits and vegetables to prevent the onset of these chronic diseases has been well established. The pathways of prevention remain unclear; however, many beneficial nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, such as carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids, and soluble fiber, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Dietary soluble fiber consumption has been linked to a reduction in inflammatory responses. Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables is linked to lower C-reactive protein (CRP) and TNF-α levels. The protective benefits of fruits and vegetables are most likely due to the combination of these nutrients and the resulting removal of pro-inflammatory nutrients, such as dietary fat.1 Every essential nutrient can be present in a carnivore diet, but not necessarily in high concentrations as in diets including fruits and vegetables (Table 1). Some nutrients are more scarce than others, and ensuring compliance with defined daily requirements will necessitate planning. All acute micronutrient needs can be satisfied without plants, according to historical and clinical evidence, but the long-term effects remain uncertain.2

1. Hosseini B, Berthon BS, Saedisomeolia A, et al. Effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on inflammatory biomarkers and immune cell populations: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018;108(1):136-155. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy082

2. O’Hearn A. Can a carnivore diet provide all essential nutrients? Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2020;27(5):312-316. doi:10.1097/MED.0000000000000576

*These statements are not meant to diagnose or treat. You should consult your health care provider before starting any new diet, exercise, or supplement.