For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a few questions and comments from last week’s post on the carnivore diet. First, Dawn gives us the unfortunate but necessary information that it’s not just the lone star tick who causes red meat allergy. Great. Second, what are 7-Day Adventists so healthy? Is it all because of their tendency to avoid meat, or is there something else? And third, I give some more thoughts on magnesium requirements on a carnivorous diet.

Let’s go:

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Dawn wrote:

It’s not just the lone star tick that causes an alpha-gal allergy, aka red meat allergy. Other ticks can cause it as well. https://www.med.unc.edu/medicine/news/chairs-corner/podcast/alpha-gal The info about other ticks is about 3/4ths of the way down, under “Clearing up Misconceptions About Alpha-Gal.”

And to be precise, it’s an allergy to meat from non-primate mammals. Primates don’t have the alpha-gal carbohydrate, but other mammals do.

That is very good information. Unfortunate, but good to know. Thanks for the note.

Also good to know I can still eat my braised orangutan shanks even if I get an alpha-gal allergy.

Edward wrote:

The healthiest, longest lived people, now live in Loma Linda, CA. What is it that is unique about Loma Linda? They have a bunch of 7 day adventists that live there. Also, they have the highest density on earth of pure ‘vegans’ in their population.

Coincidence? Possibly, but highly unlikely.

By the way, if animal products is the only way to get vitamin B12 in the diet, where do
cows, deer, zebras, great apes, ect……. get their vitamin B12? They get it from where ALL B12 really comes from……..bacteria in the soil and water. It’s just that we humans wash it off our produce and treat our drinking water.

I love the Adventists. Their diets get the most attention, but there’s a lot more to it.

Seventh-day Adventists follow Eight Laws of Health.

Eat a nutrient-dense diet. This is usually a vegetarian or vegan diet, but it doesn’t have to be.

Exercise regularly to improve mind, body, and spirit. Note the . They recognize that training is good for our cognitive and psychological function, not just for the body. That’s something that modern science is finally getting around to recognizing, and the Adventists have known for 150 years.

Drink plenty of water. While I’d take umbrage with “plenty”—just drink what you need, not some predetermined quantity—the fact that they’re drinking water and not other stuff is a point in their favor.

Spend time in sunlight. The benefits of this are numerous: vitamin D, nitric oxide, better endothelial function, sun-derived opioids coursing through their veins.

Don’t overdo the good things and avoid the bad. This rather open-ended law covers a wide range of inputs that can get in the way of health and happiness. Good things often become bad when we overdo them; bad things are, well, bad.

Breathe pure air and do so with proper technique. This is another law with double effects. It captures environmental health—you’re more likely to choose to live in a healthy, pollution-free area and spend as much time in nature as you can if you’re worried about pure air. Second, breathing properly, leading with the diaphragm, carefully heeding each inhalation and exhalation all tend to produce a state of relaxation akin to miniature meditations throughout the day.

Work hard and rest well. Not “work hard, play hard.” Not “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Not “you only live once.” Instead of those trite and frankly counterproductive slogans, “work hard and rest well” implores you to follow the most rewarding, fruitful, and sustainable path through life and work.

The final law is to “trust in divine power as you make choices and seek inner peace.” I’ve never been religious. Yet, in a sense I have a “religious” estimation of my own tendency to make things work out. When I had a wife and two kids to support, I left my cozy gig and started my own business. It was a risk. I knew it would work though. And it did. I can imagine having the confidence that a transcendent force is pulling for you would make for a similarly robust mindset.

As for the B12 question, I’m sure someone somewhere is working hard on edible soil for humans. And there’s certainly a market for “raw water.” But what does that mean for the average person avoiding animal foods?

Are they going to drink untreated water with the perfect balance of vitamin B12 and raccoon poop? Are they going to eat enough soil-caked spinach?

I’m skeptical.

“A recent paper showed that the majority of people following a “paleolithic ketogenic diet” with at least 70% of calories from animal foods and including offal had adequate serum magnesium levels. That’s a great start. But earlier studies show that serum magnesium may not be the definitive marker. A person can have normal serum levels but inadequate tissue levels—and in the tissues is where magnesium does its work. A person can have normal serum levels but still be deficient.”
Dear Mark. First: “majority people”, in fact 99.9%
Second. What you write, is not real. The magnesium function depends only on the degree of glycolysis. Tissue and intracellular magnesium also depend on glycolysis. If is ketosis, very little magnesium is required. Any magnesium supplement can make a cardiac complication, sinus tachycardia, extrasystole etc. But it can cause diarrhea, warmth, sweating. Also made increased intestinal permeability and changed membrane functions. Magnesium dosage is not a game.
To talk about past investigations are a professional mistake because these study made not during healthy diet.
Animal fat is important in nutrition. So it is better to say a meat / animal fat-based diet, a paleo-ketogenic diet as a carnivore. The only meat is not as healthy as meat and animal fat.
Anyway, the real paleolithic diet is actually paleolithic ketogenic diet or carnivorous diet.
This is important for magnesium.I apologize for the bad English, I hope you understand what I wrote.

Thanks for writing, Dr. Csaba. Your English was perfectly fine. For those you didn’t pick up on it, Dr. Csaba is one of the researchers who ran the “magnesium on paleo-keto/carnivore” study I referenced last week.

You’re right that magnesium figures prominently in glucose metabolism, and that if you’re not eating much glucose, you probably don’t need as much magnesium for that purpose. After all, magnesium is used to treat many diseases and problems related to glucose metabolism. It’s effective against type 2 diabetes, protects against pre-diabetes turning into full-blown diabetes, reduces blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity. Low levels seem to increase diabetic complications, and high sugar intakes do make low magnesium intakes more problematic. If glucose isn’t a major part of your diet, I can buy the assertion that you probably don’t need as much.

But magnesium does more than that. It also fights depression, reduces post-op complications, improves bone health

The number of people who find they need to increase magnesium intake when going ketogenic, and the number of ketogenic diet writers (including me) and researchers who recommend magnesium supplementation when going keto make me wonder though. Is there something different about carnivory that reduces magnesium requirements? It can’t only be the lack of carbohydrates, because basic ketogenic diets also lack carbohydrates yet still require magnesium.

Perhaps it’s the anti-nutrients in low-carb plant foods, like nuts and greens. Dietary phytate, lectins, and oxalates can reduce magnesium absorption. A carnivorous diet has none of these compounds, making any magnesium present in the diet far more bioavailable. I can see that playing a role. Yet, what of plant (or plant-like foods, like mushrooms) foods with low anti-nutrient levels? One study found that eating high-oxalate spinach reduced magnesium absorption, while low-oxalate kale (sorry, carnivores, I know kale is your favorite nemesis) increased it. 

Some people have suggested that the fiber in low-carb plants is inhibiting magnesium absorption, artificially elevating the magnesium requirements of plant eaters. While that may be true for other nutrients and different types of fiber—I’ll have to dig deeper in a future post—it looks like fermentable fiber increases magnesium absorption in humans. That assertion doesn’t really seem to jibe with the evidence.

Magnesium deficiency tends to increase low-level inflammation. To be on the safe side, any carnivores worried about magnesium deficiency and wary of magnesium supplementation could track their hs-CRP levels. If it’s elevated or begins trending upward upon going carnivore, you probably need more magnesium.

My point is let’s not be too hasty in claiming that all the benefits of magnesium supplementation are predicated on a glucose-based metabolism.

Dr. Csaba, I look forward to more research from you and your team!

Thanks for reading, everyone, and take care! I’m sure I’ll be covering more of the questions from the carnivore post, as you folks asked some good ones.

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