Monday, September 3, 2018

Jordan Peterson's All-Meat Diet

Just when you thought life couldn’t get any weirder, famed psychologist Jordan Peterson and his daughter Mikhaila are touting the virtues of something called the all-meat diet. Apparently, becoming a pure carnivore has cured them of all their ailments… so why shouldn’t it cure yours? Haven’t you always wanted to become a lion or a tiger?

Mikhaila Peterson suffers from an autoimmune disorder. After following all of the medical treatments, she decided to self-treat her condition by eliminating various substance from her diet. After a process of elimination, she arrived at the point where she was only eating meat. Presto changeo… all of her symptoms vanished.

Are you going to argue with that?

James Hamblin reports in The Atlantic:

[Mikhaila] Peterson described an adolescence that involved multiple debilitating medical diagnoses, beginning with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Some unknown process had triggered her body’s immune system to attack her joints. The joint problems culminated in hip and ankle replacements in her teens, coupled with “extreme fatigue, depression and anxiety, brain fog, and sleep problems.” In fifth grade she was diagnosed with depression, and then later something called idiopathic hypersomnia (which translates to English as “sleeping too much, of unclear cause”—which translates further to sorry we really don’t know what’s going on).

Everything the doctors tried failed, and she did everything they told her, she recounted to me. She fully bought into the system, taking large doses of strong immune-suppressing drugs like methotrexate.

Until, by December 2017, all that was left was “beef and salt and water,” and, she told me, “all my symptoms went into remission.”

“And you quit taking all your medications?”


So far, so good. All things considered we wish her many more pain-free days. And yet, now Mikhaila is preaching the gospel of the all-meat diet on a blog and a Facebook page:

[Mikhaila] Peterson seems to be reaching suffering people despite a lack of training or credentials in nutrition or medicine, and perhaps because of that distinction. Her Instagram bio: “For info on treating weight loss, depression, and autoimmune disorders with diet, check out my blog or fb page!” The blog, which is called “Don’t Eat That,” says at the top that “many (if not most) health problems are treatable with diet alone.” This is true, if at odds with the disclaimer at the bottom of the page that her words are “not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.”

But, is it good for anyone else? The evidence suggests otherwise. Experts in nutrition are horrified:

There is so much evidence—abundant, copious evidence acquired over decades of work from scientists around the world—that most people benefit from eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and seeds. This appears to be largely because fiber in plants is important to the flourishing of the gut microbiome. I ran this by some experts, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything that might suggest a beef-salt diet is potentially something other than a bad idea. I learned that it was worse than I thought.

“Physiologically, it would just be an immensely bad idea,” Jack Gilbert, the faculty director at the University of Chicago’s Microbiome Center and a professor of surgery, told me during a recent visit to his lab. “A terribly, terribly bad idea.”

… the look on his face when I told him about the all-beef diet was unamused. He began rattling off the expected ramifications: “Your body would start to have severe dysregulation, within six months, of the majority of the processes that deal with metabolism; you would have no short-chain fatty acids in your cells; most of the by-products of gastrointestinal polysaccharide fermentation would shut down, so you wouldn’t be able to regulate your hormone levels; you’d enter into cardiac issues due to alterations in cell receptors; your microbiota would just be devastated.”

As for the science, Gilbert explains that human beings are not large carnivorous cats:

It is not even healthy from a theoretical evolutionary viewpoint, the microbiome expert Gilbert explained to me. Carnivores need to eat meat or else they die; humans do not. “The carnivore gastrointestinal tract is completely different from the human gastrointestinal tract, which is made up of a system designed to consume large quantities of complex fibers.”

Better yet, Mikhaila’s father, famed Jungian psychologist Jordan Peterson has also adopted the diet. Would you believe, it cured everything that ailed him… including his depression and anxiety. You would think, if you were cynical, that all that Jungian therapy-- assuming he has undergone it-- would have had some impact on his depression and anxiety. Not so much, it seems. The cure was an all-meat diet:

Yet in a July appearance on the comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast, Jordan Peterson explained how Mikhaila’s experience had convinced him to eliminate everything but meat and leafy greens from his diet, and that in the last two months he had gone full meat and eliminated vegetables. Since he changed his diet, his laundry list of maladies has disappeared, he told Rogan. His lifelong depression, anxiety, gastric reflux (and associated snoring), inability to wake up in the mornings, psoriasis, gingivitis, floaters in his right eye, numbness on the sides of his legs, problems with mood regulation—all of it is gone, and he attributes it to the diet.

Whether or not such a diet worked for one or another member of the Peterson clan, selling it to the public as a magical mystery cure feels… irresponsible, at the least.


ted said...

This is the issue with becoming a famed expert, you are led to believe that you offer expertise in areas you have no professional background in beyond anecdotal experience. It's similar to linguistics professor Noam Chomsky pontificating about geopolitics. Best to stay within your zone when offering advise to the masses.

Sam L. said...

If it worked for one, it worked for one. It might work for another, or might not. I won't do that because I like pizza. And sourdough bread. But...that's just me. I neither recommend it nor recommend abstaining from it. I am not a doctor, but like
Dr. Science, I have a Masters degree.

Anonymous said...

Peterson does preface his all meat diet. It has been working for him and he is no doctor, and this is not medical advice.

LordSomber said...

I don't think they're "selling" the idea -- it's understood that everyone has a different metabolism.
As Mikhaila said on the Rogan podcast, she's just putting the info out there online what has worked or not worked for her personally, with the hope that anyone else out there with similar problems could glean something from it.

Unknown said...

I watched the Rogan podcast. JBP was not "touting" this diet. He talked about it only because asked by Joe. He very specifically said he was not recommending anybody else try it, and said he has no idea whether it's viable over the long term.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Let's not be too literal minded here. He is obliged, by the law, not to make claims about what the diet will do for you and not to pretend to be an expert in the field. Yet, his daughter makes important claims about what it did for her on her blog... covering a vast variety of symptoms... and it is perfectly obvious that people are going to read this and choose to follow the same diet.

Anonymous said...

IQ84 ftw!