Evidence-Based, Simplified Nutrition and Lifestyle Strategies


The Carnivore Diet for Autoimmune Disease

Understanding Autoimmunity and Getting to the Root Cause

With significant chronic disease and autoimmune illnesses continually on the rise, many are exploring alternative, holistic approaches to taking back their health.



Autoimmune disease is on the rise and currently impacts more than 24 million people in the United States alone. An additional eight million people have autoantibodies, blood molecules that indicate a person’s chance of developing autoimmunity. As autoimmune conditions become more and more prevalent, individuals are exploring alternatives to conventional approaches that rely solely on symptom management with no deeper root cause healing. While some of these pharmaceuticals may offer temporary relief or remission, none are capable of proper treatment. As mainstream science is slowly catching up and supporting many of our shared theories of treatable root causes and preventative lifestyle practices, the essential role of diet is becoming illuminated in autoimmunity. Backed by our extensive clinical practice, emerging research, and thousands of anecdotal reports, the carnivore diet is a powerful approach for autoimmune disorders. 


The carnivore diet is a compelling tool for managing autoimmune symptoms and helping individuals discover what caused their immune dysfunction. For some, diet interventions can promote root-cause healing. While for others, it can provide key support during the journey of discovering what led to the development of this condition. Learn more about the carnivore diet for autoimmune disease, the important benefits it can provide, and how to get started.

Understanding Autoimmune Disease


the carnivore diet for autoimmune


A healthy immune system works to defend the body against harmful invaders such as bacteria and viruses, and can tell the difference between foreign cells and the body’s own cells. However, when the immune system malfunctions, it mistakenly attacks healthy cells, tissues, and organs. Categorized as autoimmune disease, these attacks can impact the entire body leading to weakened function and even posing life-threatening risks. During these attacks, the immune system releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells. Some conditions target only one organ, while others can affect the body as a whole.   


There are more than 100 known autoimmune diseases with a high prevalence of disorders among women. Approximately 80% of all autoimmune patients are women due to the larger number of genes originating from the X chromosome (women have two X chromosomes), which creates a greater risk for a large number of mutations happening for this sex.  

What Causes Autoimmunity?

Mainstream science is still in the dark when it comes to what exactly causes autoimmunity, with limited data regarding certain genetic risk factors. However, researchers believe that genetics, diet, infections, and chemical exposures may be involved. For those practicing in holistic and functional spaces, these theories are supported by clinical practice, diet intervention, and new emerging research. 



There can be a genetic component to developing autoimmunity, but other factors are also generally at play. Autoimmune disorders have a complex genetic basis with multiple genes that can contribute to disease risk. Researchers have found a higher prevalence of some autoimmune diseases in specific populations (i.e., giant cell arthritis is more common in people of North European descent). A familial predisposition has also been identified in regard to autoimmunity, although it’s not always with the same condition (i.e., one family member may have celiac disease while another may have autoimmune hepatitis). However, as the saying goes, “Genetics loads the gun but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” While genetics can increase the risk of developing an autoimmune disease, this isn’t necessarily guaranteed and there are usually other important factors involved. 


There are rarer cases of primary immunodeficiency disorders present at birth. Some immune disorders are diagnosed at or shortly after birth. Others may not present symptoms, leading to a diagnosis later in childhood or adulthood.      




carnivore diet for autoimmune


The roles of diet and nutrition in autoimmune disorders are also quite significant. New research is exploring how the Western diet can be a possible promoter of autoimmunity. The underlying metabolic, inflammatory, and immunologic mechanisms are currently being researched. Ultra-processed foods, fast foods, and other Western diet staples are believed to have a direct correlation with the global spread of autoimmune conditions as numbers rise in areas more recently experiencing the popularization of the Western diet.  


More and more emerging research is showcasing the correlation between leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune conditions. Leaky gut is the result of eating inflammatory and toxic foods, chronic stress, environmental toxins, excessive alcohol, and gut infections which cause intestinal permeability. It is believed that since leaky gut permeability allows for some foods and toxins to get into the bloodstream, this triggers the immune system to view them as pathogens and attacks them. Since these invaders can resemble the body’s own cells, the immune system can get confused and attack healthy tissues in the body, leading to inflammation and putting you at risk for developing autoimmunity. 


Infections are considered to be another one of the important triggers of autoimmune conditions and are believed to contribute to the onset and severity. Both viral and bacterial pathogens seem to be at play. When the body identifies these foreign invaders, the immune system causes an immune response in order to attack them. Sometimes, healthy cells and tissues are unintentionally impacted during this, resulting in autoimmune disease. Scientists believe infections can trigger autoimmunity through these processes:


  • Some viruses can interfere with the immune system, causing the immune system to turn off the ability to tell the difference between the self and foreign invaders.  
  • Certain viruses and bacteria have parts that appear similar to the body’s own cells. This is referred to as “molecular mimicry”, causing the immune system to attack its own cells when trying to attack the invader.    
  • Infections can cause both damage and inflammation. This inflammation can cause both short-term and long-term damage to cells and tissue. For impaired immune systems that experience frequent infections, this can lead to chronic inflammation throughout the body.
  • An abnormal inflammatory response that leads to chronic inflammation, in turn, failing to stop producing inflammatory cytokines, has been linked to the development of chronic conditions and the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease.


Almost all autoimmune conditions have been associated with at least one type of infection.


Environmental Toxins


Autoimmunity Causes


Exposure to environmental toxins such as persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, endocrine disruptors, biotoxins (i.e., mold mycotoxins, Borrelia burgdorferi, Pfiesteria, cyanobacteria), and more are believed to be a key factor in the rapid progression of autoimmune reactivity. Emerging research on the impact of environmental exposures on the gut microbiome has also been linked to developing autoimmune disorders. Genetic conditions including Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) can be the root cause of autoimmunity, especially for individuals with specific immunity-related HLA gene types.


Lifestyle and Other Possible Triggers

Certain lifestyle factors beyond diet and environmental exposures can also increase the risk of developing an autoimmune condition. Smoking cigarettes is believed to increase the risk of certain autoimmune diseases. Other lifestyle factors that have been linked to autoimmunity include medications (e.g., specific blood pressure medications, statins, and antibiotics), vaccines (e.g., from additives, heavy metals, novel technologies), pregnancy, and silicone breast implants. Emotional stress and trauma are also believed to contribute to the risk of autoimmunity. There is also an association between low vitamin D levels and autoimmune conditions, however, it’s unclear if this could factor into causation or correlation. Obesity is another risk factor for autoimmune disorders as fat tissue can make substances that encourage inflammation.

 The Most Common Autoimmune Conditions


Most Common Autoimmune Conditions


Even though there may be over 100 known autoimmune diseases, there are more prevalent conditions with many remaining rare. Here are the most common autoimmune conditions worldwide:



Also known as SLE, lupus is an inflammatory autoimmune condition that attacks the joints, skin, blood cells, kidneys, lungs, brain, and heart. These attacks cause serious inflammation which can lead to permanent tissue damage throughout these areas. Symptoms typically include butterfly-shaped rash, fatigue, joint pain, kidney disease, skin rashes, swollen ankles, and more. 


This autoimmune condition causes the immune system to attack the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis leads to inflammation that can damage other parts of the body including blood vessels, eyes, lungs, skin, and the heart. Over extended periods of time, it can lead to physical disabilities, bone erosion, and joint deformity. The symptoms often include pain, swelling, stiffness, weakness, fatigue, and more.


Type 1 Diabetes

The immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, creating a blood sugar imbalance. The subsequent chronic high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and organs. Type 1 diabetes symptoms can include frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, and hunger.       


Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis causes the immune system to eat away at the protective covering of nerves. This nerve damage disrupts the communications between the body and the brain and can lead to a wide host of symptoms which differs from person to person. Some of these common symptoms include pain, fatigue, vision loss, impaired coordination, tremors, anxiety, depression, and more. 


Myasthenia Gravis

The chronic autoimmune condition is caused by the breakdown in communication between the muscle and nerves, subsequently leading to skeletal muscle weakness. It is characterized by the weakness and rapid fatigue of any muscles that are under voluntary control. Eye muscles are often the first impacted, causing drooping eyelids and double vision. Symptoms can also include weakness as well as difficulty speaking and chewing.


Inflammatory Bowel Disease

IBDs include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and microscopic colitis. This group of disorders causes chronic inflammation in the intestines and also impacts the digestive system. IBD is different than IBS– IBD is a disease while IBS is a syndrome or group of symptoms. IBS is a type of functional gastrointestinal disease and is not considered an autoimmune disorder, however, certain autoimmune conditions including IBD can produce similar symptoms and individuals can have both at the same time.  


  • Crohn’s disease: Swelling and pain are experienced in the digestive tract. The condition can impact anything from the mouth to the anus but commonly affects the small intestine and upper area of the large intestine.
  • Ulcerative colitis: This condition causes swelling and sores throughout the large intestine.
  • Microscopic colitis: The IBD leads to intestinal inflammation that can only be detected through a microscope.


Addison’s Disease

This autoimmune condition develops when the immune system starts attacking the adrenal glands, severally damaging the adrenal cortex. Once approximately 90% of the adrenal cortex is damaged, the adrenal glands aren’t able to produce enough steroid hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone. The deficiency can lead to a life-threatening Addisonian crisis through the mechanism of low blood pressure. The general symptoms include dizziness, nausea, fatigue, mood imbalance, muscle weakness, and more. 


Sjögren’s Syndrome

When the immune system attacks its own healthy cells that produce tears and saliva, this is characterized as Sjögren’s syndrome. Other parts of the body can be impacted as well, resulting in fatigue, joint stiffness, muscle pain, as well as dry eyes and mouth. The condition often develops alongside other autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. 


Grave’s Disease

Also known as Basedow’s disease, the autoimmune disorder can cause hyperthyroidism which refers to an overactive thyroid. The overproduction of thyroid hormones leads to a number of different symptoms including anxiety, heat sensitivity, hand tremors, puffy eyes, weight loss, fatigue, high blood pressure, fast or irregular heart rate, nervousness, bulging eyes, and more.   


Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

In contrast to Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is characterized by an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism. When the condition first develops, inflammation of the thyroid leads to a leak resulting in hyperthyroidism. As the inflammation persists, it prevents the thyroid from producing enough hormones which is the hallmark trait of this autoimmune disorder. Symptoms can include fatigue, unexplained weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, depression, joint stiffness, muscle weakness, and more.



Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that’s caused by the inflammation of the skin leading to skin cell build-up which forms itchy, dry patches and thick red skin. There are certain triggers that can exacerbate this including stress, the cold, and infections. The most common symptoms of psoriasis are rashes, painful joints, dry skin, redness, depression, inflamed tendons, itching, and plaque. Individuals with psoriasis can also be at risk for psoriatic arthritis, a form of autoimmune arthritis.      


A comprehensive list of all the known autoimmune conditions can be found here.  

common autoimmune symptoms

Commonalities Among Autoimmune Conditions

Aside from the parent characterization of the immune system attacking its own healthy cells, what else do all autoimmune conditions have in common? For one, this immune system dysfunction leads to the loss of tolerance to self-antigens, the presence of increased levels of autoantibodies, as well as inflammatory and mediatory cells, resulting in chronic inflammation throughout the body. That’s why many autoimmune treatments rely on decreasing inflammation, however, they don’t work for all patients when it comes to symptom management, don’t offer proper root-cause treatment, and can also have serious side effects.        


Another commonality found among the different types of autoimmune diseases is shared symptomology. The common symptoms of autoimmunity include:


  • Pain and swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive issues or abdominal pain
  • Skin problems
  • Swollen glands
  • Anxiety, depression, or other mood imbalances
autoimmune disease root cause healing

Treating Autoimmune Disease

There are currently no known cures for autoimmune disease, however, there are many modalities available for promoting remission and symptom management. In Western medicine, treatments include: 


  • Anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • Painkillers
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressant drugs
  • Deficiency treatment (i.e., insulin injections for type 1 diabetes)
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery
  • High dose immunosuppression


As mentioned above, these treatments won’t work for everyone and have many adverse side effects that are important to consider. Luckily, there are natural approaches through diet and lifestyle that can be very powerful interventions for supporting autoimmunity. Targeting the root cause is critical here.

carnivore diet for autoimmune disease

Diet Intervention for Autoimmunity

One of the most powerful interventions available for relieving autoimmune symptoms is through diet. There have been many protocols and elimination diets created and recommended for autoimmune conditions such as the autoimmune protocol diet (AIP), the anti-inflammatory diet, and the gluten-free diet. The purpose of these different diets is to offer an elimination protocol while aiming to support the gut lining and reduce symptoms by avoiding inflammatory foods. 

Why Plant-Based Diets Aren’t Ideal for Autoimmunity


negatives of plant based diet autoimmune


In addition to the diets above which focus strongly on fruits and vegetables, mainstream science also promotes plant-based diets for benefiting individuals with autoimmune conditions. This isn’t surprising considering all of the misinformation propagated around the health benefits of eating plant-based. Let’s break down why plant-based diets aren’t ideal for overall wellness, and why they’re especially not ideal for supporting individuals with autoimmune conditions.



  • Plant anti-nutrients: The plant kingdom is full of different plant anti-nutrients such as lectins, phytic acid, and oxalates. While metabolically healthy individuals often tolerate these anti-nutrients in small to moderate amounts, compromised individuals can experience health issues and challenges by keeping these in their diet. Lectins are believed to play a direct role in autoimmunity by contributing to leaky gut and digestive issues. Foods high in lectin include beans, nuts, certain nightshades, and grains. Oxalate accumulation can impair biotin-dependent enzymes, leading to candida overgrowth and gut dysbiosis. Since approximately 70% to 80% of the immune system is in the gut, any impairment can further weaken the immune system. There are also several common nutrient deficiencies that have been linked to autoimmunity including zinc and magnesium. Phytic acid binds to minerals, making them unabsorbable by the body, furthering mineral deficiencies. Phytic acid is commonly found in seeds, grains, legumes, and nuts. 
  • Mycotoxins and aflatoxins: Certain strains of mold can produce toxic particles called mycotoxins. Plant foods such as grains, coffee beans, nuts, dried fruit, spices, and others commonly contain mycotoxins due to farming and storage conditions. Mycotoxins have been linked to immune system dysregulation and autoimmunity, especially for those with certain genetic haplotypes. One of the more well-known mycotoxins is called aflatoxin. It’s a family of carcinogenic, poisonous toxins often found in grains, nuts, processed pet foods, legumes, and seeds. Overexposure to aflatoxin can lead to aflatoxin toxicity which can present as autoimmune hepatitis of the liver.
  • Glyphosate and pesticides: The dangerous herbicide has been recently established as a significant contributor to cancer through recent studies and lawsuits. Glyphosate is abundantly found throughout 56% of non-organic conventionally raised plants and grains, genetically modified crops, as well as many processed foods. Emerging studies are also linking glyphosate exposure to certain autoimmune conditions such as Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s. Experimental, epidemiological, and other scientific data all support that many commonly used pesticides are immunosuppressive. The organochlorine pesticide has also been linked to exacerbating existing autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.     
  • Carbohydrates and sugar: Since the effector functions of immune cells rely primarily on glucose, high carbohydrate intake can exacerbate the hyperactivation of immune cells in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions. Individuals that consume excess sugar and carbohydrates have a higher risk of developing autoimmunity. Not only does sugar suppress the immune system, but it can also be a gut irritant and impacts the important functions needed for controlling the inflammatory process leading to further inflammation. Carbohydrates may also affect the intestinal barrier function, playing a role in developing leaky gut syndrome. High sugar intake has also been linked to worsening autoimmune symptoms by activating inflammatory immune cells. Elevated blood glucose leads to inflammation and alteration of intestinal cells which can also create intestinal barrier dysfunction.


plant based diet autoimmune


  • Fiber: Dietary fiber has been touted as a miracle ingredient from gut health support to colon cancer prevention and even autoimmune disease suppression. However, fiber is a subset of carbohydrates the body is incapable of breaking down and all carbohydrates are nonessential. Many anecdotal accounts and some studies show that fiber intake for IBD patients can actually worsen symptoms. Fiber has been shown to cause symptoms in those with IBS and SIBO as well and can add unnecessary roughage that’s difficult for compromised guts to break down. The high fiber content in raw vegetables and fruits can cause stomach cramps, bloating, and flatulence.     
  • Processed foods and seed oils: Many processed foods and seed oils are considered either plant-based or vegan. As mentioned above, processed foods have also been linked to autoimmunity and are believed to play a role in the development and exacerbation of existing symptoms. Vegetable and seed oils such as soybean, corn, sunflower, and canola (rapeseed) are all highly processed and inflammatory. These vegetable oils are commonly found in processed foods and are also included in plant-based diets. The inflammatory nature can worsen the chronic inflammation already experienced by autoimmune patients.
  • Plant nutrient deficiencies: The most common nutrient deficiencies found in autoimmune patients include vitamin D, omega-3s, B vitamins, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. Two of the main omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), vitamin D, and vitamin B12 in addition to taurine and creatine, aren’t found in plant foods. Vitamins A, E, iron, and zinc are very low in plant foods; some can be bound by phytic acid, making them unabsorbable. All of these nutrients are critical for fueling the immune system– nutrient deficiencies are an important concern to address for anyone, especially those with autoimmunity. Plant protein and amino acids are also less digestible and significantly less bioavailable compared to animal sources. 


plant based diet nutrient deficiency autoimmune


Based on the available science, the history of evolutionary nutrition, and our clinical practice, plant-based diets are not ideal for optimal health much less for those healing from complex chronic illnesses including autoimmune disease. Since plants can include so many potential harmful factors, this explains why certain elimination diets including AIP, paleo, and anti-inflammatory don’t work or only offer minimal relief for some autoimmune patients. So, what is the ideal diet for supporting autoimmune conditions and relieving symptoms? Learn more about the carnivore diet for autoimmune disease and all the powerful benefits it can offer. 

carnivore diet for autoimmune disorders

What Is the Carnivore Diet?

The carnivore diet consists of only animal products while avoiding all plants and grains. It is a true zero-cab or nearly zero-carb way of eating that focuses solely on animal proteins and fats. There are many variations of the carnivore diet defined by different restrictions and inclusions of certain foods. However, not all of these diet variations are recommended especially when it comes to supporting autoimmunity. Learn more about the basics of the carnivore diet here.

carnivore diet food pyramid

Carnivore Cure: The Ultimate Elimination Diet

All elimination diets include meat but what if one of the inflammatory culprits is plant-based foods? The Carnivore Cure’s all-meat diet is the ultimate elimination diet. A more intentional, stricter initial approach detailed in the book is ideal for those interested in using diet intervention for managing symptoms and helping put their autoimmune conditions into remission. The Carnivore Cure offers evidence-based support in addition to a comprehensive elimination diet and reintroduction protocol:


  • Safest animal foods to start the ultimate elimination carnivore diet
  • Safest plant foods to try during the reintroduction phase
  • Step-by-step approach for discovering your personalized “safe” baseline of foods
  • Weekly protocol and detoxification  
carnivore diet for autoimmune conditions

Why Utilize the Carnivore Diet for Autoimmune Disease?

While all elimination diets can provide some relief since they eliminate significant culprits including processed foods, refined foods, and well-known inflammatory foods, individuals experiencing autoimmunity can’t achieve symptom reversal simply by removing these guilty food groups. One of the most important pitfalls of elimination diets is that they focus on which foods to remove and maintain depending on the person’s sensitivities without any priority paid to essential nutrients. 


Even though several of these elimination diets show healing potential and promise for certain autoimmune patients, they often aren’t capable of providing the deeper support needed for root cause discovery and healing. One thing all of these popular elimination diets have in common is the inclusion of most fruits and vegetables. As we’ve learned, these plant foods aren’t ideal for those with metabolic and immune dysfunction. That’s why a carnivore diet elimination approach begins with only the most essential foods and is even more restrictive to help rule out any potentially problematic plant foods. A carnivore diet is also the most anti-inflammatory diet available, helping optimize healing through the most bioavailable nutrient-dense foods while managing autoimmune symptoms. 

The Benefits of the Carnivore Diet for Autoimmune Conditions

The carnivore diet has proved to be a powerful intervention for autoimmune conditions. Backed by scientific data and our extensive clinical practice, here are the benefits of the carnivore diet for autoimmunity:


carnivore diet for autoimmune benefits


  • Gut healing: Gut health has a direct correlation with autoimmune conditions, the immune system, and mental health making gu tsupport an important priority for anyone looking to accomplish root-cause healing. Poor gut health can contribute to a significant list of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The gut houses 70% to 80% of the immune system, making gut healing a critical first step for addressing any chronic condition including autoimmunity. The carnivore diet is ideal for gut healing as it eliminates gut irritants, is optimal for compromised digestive systems, provides nutrient-dense healing, helps heal leaky gut syndrome, supports existing gut disease, and reduces gut inflammation. It also addresses mental health, hormone health, and skin health which are all closely tied to the gut. Learn more about how the carnivore diet promotes gut healing here.


carnivore diet for autoimmune inflammation

  • Anti-inflammatory: As the most anti-inflammatory diet available, eliminating all potential culprits provides a temporary bridge that helps to minimize the chronic inflammation experienced throughout the body. It’s considered the most anti-inflammatory diet since meat is well tolerated by most and reduces plant toxins and most pesticide use from plant-based foods. Since chronic inflammation is often a hallmark of autoimmunity due to immune system dysfunction, reducing the body’s inflammatory load through a carnivore diet can promote better symptom management by damping the body’s immune response to triggering foods. Patients utilizing this approach report significant reductions in chronic pain, discomfort, mood disorders, brain fog, frequent illness, allergies, fatigue, low energy, digestive issues, and other symptoms caused by inflammation. Based on our clinical practice, we find that our patients on a carnivore diet tend to have lower antibody levels when blood work is taken. Markers such as TPOab are generally reduced. We theorize that this is due to fewer initial attacks in the immune system that triggers the body to attack itself in cases of autoimmunity. Additionally, improved gut permeability is another benefit of a carnivore diet which may be another reason behind lower antibody counts with this way of eating.  


carnivore diet for autoimmune symptoms


  • Symptom management: In addition to its anti-inflammatory and gut-healing properties, the carnivore diet is celebrated for better mental clarity, mood stability, improved energy and sleep, cardiovascular health benefits, weight loss, food addiction recovery support, clearer skin, and more. All of these advantages offer additional support for those undergoing healing and treatment, helping provide a better foundational base of health while searching for the root cause.    
  • Eliminates potential culprits: Since gut health and food choices play such a foundational role in developing and progressing autoimmune conditions, utilizing a strict elimination diet like this one allows you to completely eliminate potential culprits without the risk of nutrient deficiency. The key here is that once diet is addressed, individuals with autoimmune issues are one step closer to finding their root cause. For some, dietary changes may be enough to put their autoimmune condition in remission with the ability of more foods being introduced back as the gut heals. For others, this helps establish if there are other factors at play that require resolution, such as environmental factors (mold toxicity), infections (chronic Lyme), and endocrine disruptors (personal care and cleaning products). While the carnivore diet can be an incredibly powerful healing modality, it certainly isn’t a miracle cure-all. 


Important Note: There is no one size fits all diet, even when it comes to carnivore. Especially for sensitive individuals with autoimmune conditions, it’s always important to work with your trusted provider when making any diet changes. There’s a potential for a lot of fine-tuning around the diet to make it optimal for your specific needs so expert guidance can be invaluable. Our experienced carnivore nutritionists are always available to support you.  

The Carnivore Diet for Autoimmunity


carnivore diet foods gut health


There are many variations when it comes to the carnivore diet. For those approaching this intervention for autoimmune purposes, it’s ideal to start as clean and restrictive as possible. The two best starting points are:


Beef-Only Carnivore Diet

The beef-only carnivore diet includes only unprocessed beef, salt, and water. It’s the most restrictive version of this diet but serves as the ultimate elimination tool, allowing individuals to reintroduce foods one at a time. Most individuals don’t have food sensitivities to meat, especially when it comes to beef. There are always exceptions but some individuals find beef more tolerable when compared to other ruminants. Beef-only is only recommended as a short-term elimination protocol but can also be used in certain cases long-term for ultra-sensitive individuals during healing. 


The Lion Diet

The lion diet is the next most restrictive variation of Carnivore, consisting of only ruminant animals, salt, and water. Beef is a type of ruminant meat but this diet includes other options including bison, deer, elk, moose, lamb, goats, and sheep. Ruminants are ideal for individuals with autoimmunity because these animals are able to break down plant nutrients through a specialized microbial process through their multiple-chambered stomachs. This in turn removes more plant anti-nutrients from the meat while providing essential bioavailable nutrients. Lamb can be easier to digest compared to other ruminant meats for some, which can make this diet a great option as well for sensitive individuals.  


Other Considerations

While some carnivores eat only beef or only ruminants for years and do well, we believe that this way of eating should be out of choice not necessity. We always advocate for root cause healing so that individuals can eventually introduce plant foods back into their diet. We also believe in eating a variety of meats in the long term for optimal nutrient intake.


Starting with these more restrictive, ruminant-only diets is foundational for autoimmunity since animals with single-chambered stomachs (i.e., chicken and pork) aren’t able to break down plant anti-nutrients as well, which can lead to sensitivities in this population. Eggs and dairy should also be eliminated to begin with as these can cause sensitivities as well. 


Meat-Only Carnivore Diet

While the beef-only carnivore diet and lion diet are generally the ideal starting place for individuals with autoimmunity, some individuals may be able to try the meat-only carnivore diet variation as well.


We generally recommend starting with one of the variations above before trying non-ruminant meats. However, if you know you tolerate poultry, pork, or fish, you may opt for including more variety. Always take a personalized approach when it comes to finding the right carnivore diet for autoimmune issues.


Reintroduction Phases

Beef-only diet and the lion diet are the initial starting points for individuals embarking on the Carnivore Cure protocol. To learn more about how to properly reintroduce foods, read through the extensive, step-by-step protocol here.


Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed Meat for Autoimmunity


grain fed vs grass fed meat autoimmune


Generally, we recommend starting with the highest-quality meats that are accessible to you in terms of preference and affordability. However, individuals with autoimmune conditions may need to focus on sourcing higher-quality meats, to begin with.


Some sensitive patients can have initial sensitivities when eating grain-fed meat. Sourcing grass-finished ruminants can help lower any potential immune responses in order to avoid the minimal plant anti-nutrients, mycotoxins, and other potentially problematic compounds found in conventionally raised, grain-finished meat.


Grass-finished meat is also slightly higher in omega-3s, which is beneficial for autoimmune patients since omega-3s are believed to have considerable anti-inflammatory properties.


In our experience, individuals who require grass-finished ruminant meat generally eventually begin to tolerate grain-fed meat once a certain level of healing has been completed.


Low Histamine Considerations for Autoimmunity


histamine intolerance autoimmune carnivore diet


Histamine intolerance and histamine issues can be common in individuals with autoimmune conditions. Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) and histamine intolerance are generally a symptom of a deeper root cause issue such as gut dysbiosis or CIRS.


In these cases, low histamine meat will need to be a consideration. Depending on your sensitivity level, fresh cuts from your local butcher may be enough. For others, sourcing unaged meat directly from specialty farms will be important as you heal. 


Histamine considerations will need to be taken for how you store and prepare your meat. Keeping meat frozen, cooking from frozen, minimizing cook times, and freezing any leftovers are other methods to keep histamine content minimal.


Some cuts including roasts and certain steaks will also have higher connective tissue and collagen content which may need to be avoided temporarily. While bone broth has so many health benefits that promote gut healing, those with histamine intolerance generally can’t tolerate this and will need to avoid it while healing.

Carnivore Diet Nutrition for Autoimmune Disease


carnivore diet for autoimmune disease

As mentioned above, the most common nutrient deficiencies found in autoimmune patients include vitamin D, omega-3s, B vitamins, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. Ruminant meat offers the most bioavailable, nutrient-dense source for all of these nutrients, providing individuals with essential nutrients that power various physiological functions in addition to fueling the immune system.


  • Vitamin D is believed to reduce the risk of autoimmune disease. The carnivore diet helps support healthy levels of cholesterol which is required in skin cells in order to make vitamin D from sunlight. There are also naturally occurring low levels of vitamin D in ruminant meats with higher levels found in eggs, salmon, salmon roe, and pork.
  • Omega-3s have been shown in studies to have beneficial properties for lowering symptoms, relapse rates, and inflammatory markers for autoimmune disease. These essential fatty acids are also believed to lower the risk of developing certain autoimmune conditions including psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.     
  • B vitamins, most abundantly found in beef, are essential for the optimal function of many physiological symptoms including the immune system. They are also believed to offer neuroprotective effects which are being explored for potential therapeutic value in certain autoimmune conditions. Many autoimmune patients have mutations with the MTHFR gene, which can inhibit proper conversion and absorption of B vitamins, making bioavailable B vitamins from diet an important priority.
  • Selenium at sufficient levels has been shown to contribute to the management of complications of autoimmunity and is even linked to better survival outcomes in autoimmune patients. The essential trace element is currently being explored as a potential treatment for autoimmune thyroiditis.
  • Zinc is critical for white blood cell production and helps regulate gut permeability. Zinc deficiencies have been linked to a higher risk of autoimmunity and an increased risk of infections. It is also believed to prevent chronic inflammation and helps the immune system with optimal function.        
  • Magnesium is another important mineral for supporting immune function along with other essential physiological functions. Magnesium deficiency may increase the production of inflammatory chemicals throughout the body, exacerbating chronic inflammation in those with autoimmunity and putting others at risk for developing an autoimmune condition.


carnivore diet for autoimmunity

Supports for Autoimmunity On a Carnivore Diet


carnivore diet supplements gut health


Most people transitioning to a carnivore diet typically only need temporary supplements and electrolytes while their bodies adjust to this new way of eating. In our clinical practice, it can be really common for autoimmune patients to have impaired gut function, requiring additional gut support in addition to the carnivore diet for optimal gut and autoimmune healing. 


We always recommend working with a trusted practitioner before starting any new supplement protocols or diets. If you’re having trouble adapting to the carnivore diet and are interested in comprehensive support for your autoimmune journey, check out our 3-Month Wellness Package with Symptom Burden Assessment.


You can also learn more about some of the general temporary gut supports we use in our practice here.    

Additional Supports for Autoimmune Conditions

In addition to the carnivore diet and potential temporary gut support supplements, there are other important things you can implement to help support your autoimmune condition and put the disease into remission. Genetics can definitely be an important component in autoimmunity but as the study of epigenetics believes, our lifestyle determines what genes are turned on and off. Eating a carnivore diet can do wonders for autoimmune conditions but the following supports can be just as significant:


Stress Management


chronic stress autoimmune


Stress management is an essential part of any comprehensive autoimmune treatment. Studies have found that not only does stress play a role in developing autoimmunity, but it can also exacerbate symptoms and cause relapses during remission. One study found that individuals with stress-related disorders including PTSD were 30% to 40% more likely to develop an autoimmune disease. Stress is a critical component since it is so closely linked to inflammation and both share the commonality of being beneficial in the short-term but are quite dangerous when they become chronic. Cortisol is one of the hormones released when the body experiences stress– the chronic release of cortisol creates dysfunction, leading to widespread inflammation following the reactivation of an acute pro-inflammatory stress response.  


The body eventually tries to counteract chronic stress by suppressing the immune system. This suppressed immune system function creates a higher risk of latent viral infections such as Epstein-Barr. All of this long-term stress can also damage the gut, which plays a critical role in autoimmunity. When the immune system is in overdrive, the additional inflammation can impact the gut lining, leading to leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut and a suppressed immune system put you at an even higher risk for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and candida overgrowth, which impact inflammation and subsequently worsen autoimmunity. 


Creating a versatile toolbox of stress management tools can be just as important as implementing the right diet when it comes to autoimmunity. 


Sleep Well


sleep autoimmune support


Insomnia and sleep disturbances are very common for autoimmune patients. Sleep deprivation can increase systemic inflammation and pain sensitivity, often worsening autoimmune symptoms. While the carnivore diet can help with better sleep, it’s important to address the root cause since other factors including environmental toxins and infections can impact sleep quality. Finding temporary sleep supports while you heal can provide the essential rest and repair that your body needs. There are a variety of natural supplements to explore such as Alpha-Theta PM, l-theanine, lemon balm, GABA, and even cannabis. In addition to diet and supplementation, there are many biohacks that can also be utilized for better sleep. These biohacks include: 


  • Eat a higher fat ratio for dinner 
  • Stop eating at least 3-4 hours before bed
  • Wear blue-light-blocking glasses after a certain time of day
  • Limit screen time in the evenings 
  • Get direct sunlight exposure first thing in the morning 
  • Practice grounding 
  • Regular exercise 
  • Use a weighted blanket
  • Install blackout curtains
  • Sleep between 60-67 degrees     
  • Mindfulness meditation practice
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule

Move Your Body

Exercising with autoimmunity can be an intricate balancing act but is another important support. While overexercising can worsen symptoms and your normal routine can also be more difficult during an autoimmune flare, research shows that a moderate routine in combination with a healthy diet can work together to help prevent chronic inflammation. One study found that exercise can also help energize autoimmune patients. 


Exercise is essential for everyone but can be particularly powerful for autoimmunity as it regulates the immune system, supports important hormone production, stimulates and strengthens the nervous system, as well as helps regulate insulin levels. With the right exercise routine, autoimmune patients can take advantage of certain anti-inflammatory compounds produced including endorphins and endothelial nitric oxide. Regular exercise can also improve circulation, help oxygenate body tissue, support nutrient delivery to tissues, and facilitate detoxification, which are all important physiological functions, especially during healing.      


Everyone’s exercise endurance levels are different so it’s important to take time to find that appropriate threshold for you. Creating a balanced routine for regular movement can be a really effective support.


Gut Healing


carnivore diet gut healing for autoimmune


While the carnivore diet can be such a compelling intervention for gut healing, in some cases it might not be enough. Severely impacted gut function can require following a trusted gut healing protocol. As we know, gut health and autoimmunity have a complex, direct relationship. Supporting gut health is another foundational step required to aid in healing any chronic condition as well as achieving optimal wellness. It’s crucial to work with your trusted provider or our team of gut health experts in order to create the right personalized protocol for your specific medical history and needs.  


Chemical and Environmental Awareness


is carnivore diet good for autoimmune disease


One of the consequences of the modern world is overexposure to harmful chemicals from tap water to personal care products and everything in between. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can exacerbate autoimmune symptoms and may even play a role in causing autoimmunity. While it’s impossible to live free from toxins and chemicals, being mindful of ingredients in household, cleaning, personal care, beauty, and any other products you purchase can help reduce the chemical body burden for your body. Lessening the toxin load is always ideal for supporting healing and overall wellness. Here are some important things to consider prioritizing:



  • Filter your water and avoid drinking tap water when possible
  • Opt for glass or stainless steel over plastic, especially for eating and drinking
  • Look for clean personal care, cleaning, household, and beauty products
  • Prioritize natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, and silk for clothing
  • Lower EMF exposure    
  • Choose organic, seasonal vegetables and fruits when eating these foods
  • Support indoor air quality with air purifiers and dehumidifiers 

Work With Our Trusted Carnivore Autoimmune Experts

The Nutrition with Judy practice is honored to be a trusted carnivore diet practitioner support serving clients from around the globe. We’re passionate about helping our clients achieve root-cause healing in order to lead the best quality of life possible that’s nearly symptom-free. Our team is dedicated to helping patients get to the root cause of their autoimmunity by utilizing the carnivore diet as a powerful tool. We welcome you to explore our free resources and are always available to support you through personalized protocols. Our Symptom Burden Assessment (SBA) is the perfect starting point for discovering your root cause and is required to work with our team— you can learn more in-depth about this powerful tool here.

Start your root-cause healing journey today and contact us any time with any questions or concerns.


DISCLAIMER: This content is for educational purposes only. While we are board-certified in holistic nutrition and are nutritional therapy practitioners, we are not providing medical advice. Whenever you start a new diet or protocol, always consult with your trusted practitioner first.