Red Meat for Your Depression

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It’s been a little over 3 weeks since we last met, and I wanted to send you an update.

I started eating red meat daily to address the reactive hypoglycemia. I am feeling so much better! I am a lot less hungry, can fall asleep more easily and stay asleep! (I can’t believe this works.)”

This was a message from one of my patients who reluctantly incorporated more red meat into her diet with near immediate results in symptoms that we would never imagine could be helped by such an intervention.

For years, I have observed that conscious inclusion of red meat into the therapeutic diets of my patients – women coming to me for labels of depression, chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia, ADHD, autoimmunity, and chemical sensitivity – is an essential part of the alchemy of healing. This observation has been extended now to the hundreds who have participated in our online healing program Vital Mind Reset. It simply works.

Confessions of a female physician who inspires people to eat red meat

At this point in my practice, if a prospective patient is vehemently opposed to eating red meat on principal, we let them know that there is likely a better clinical fit out there. I feel that way because of the radical transformations I have seen through a carnivorous dietary framework and my conviction that food is medicine.

The truth is that once I hold space for the potential healing nature of animal foods like beef, lamb, and pork, the women I work with begin to open up to this possibility. They meditate on it, they mindfully consider it, and they venture into a culinary land they may have sworn off for decades.

Often there is a necessary break down of a dietary identity that had supported a life framework that limits their ability to evolve into the next phase of self-hood. Sometimes this identity is one of the elements of a belief system that needs to be deconstructed in order for them for be further born to themselves.

We eat the food that heals us

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, in my time working with him, helped me to make sense out of all that I had observed about the potential for a red meat inclusive diet to heal my patients. As parasympathetic dominants, by and large, my patients could ONLY get better through inclusion of these animal foods.

Dr. Gonzalez helped me to see past the marketplace orthodoxy of vegetarian and vegan diets as cure-alls. He confirmed my held belief that there are different diets for different types of patients (learn more in our online program) and that “getting clean and clear” didn’t mean fasting, it meant supporting the autonomic nervous system through detox and therapeutic nutrition.

He always said that patients want to eat the diets that will heal them.

I have found that with a structured Reset, we can clear the slate, and connect to our own healing instincts, desires, and cravings. One of the most important studies ever conducted, in my opinion, was by Dr. Clara Davis who watched 15 orphans keep themselves robustly healthy on a traditional menu of self-selected items including bone marrow, sweetbreads, and beets. But this instinct is pulled and pushed by a steady infiltration of processed foods that are literally designed to addict us.

My patients who explore the dietary template I recommend for 30 days invariably LOVE eating this way. Once they can clear the pop science, the blogs, the latest nutrition guru from their minds, they can feel that they actually love eating this way, sometimes despite their assumptions about their own preferences.

The latest science that supports this approach

There is so much dogma that surrounds the issue of nutrition. We are encouraged, culturally to pick a camp and raise our pitchforks at any trespassers. I imagine that part of this cultural phenomenon is related to the fact that we don’t have, most of us, a connection to our heritage, lineage, or tribes to help guide us. We don’t have a connection to our own intuition. And so when we use our minds to “figure out” how to relate to our food in a way that feels right, we end up adopting the associated righteousness, tendency toward quantification, and reduction of the near mystical informational properties of food into units that fuel us.

Because we are flesh robots than run on high fructose corn syrup, chemical colorants, wheat processed beyond recognition, all washed down with pesticide-saturated coffee!

The trouble is that the controlled trial is not set up to reveal the optimal healing diet for an individual. In fact, research scientists rarely consider the synergistic effects of a dietary profile and instead focus on single dietary interventions or a macronutrient like fat (often hydrogenated GMO soybean oil!).

Amazingly, however, Jacka et al have corroborated findings from two of their previous studies which, to the team’s surprise, demonstrate a health-promoting role for red meat with regard to depression and anxiety.

In a study entitled Red Meat Consumption and Mood and Anxiety Disorders, they looked at a sample from a cohort of 1,046 women aged 20-93 and found that those who ate less than 3-4 servings of beef or lamb a week were TWICE as likely to be diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety. Australian meat is by and large grassfed, a highly relevant variable in this type of study. They controlled for variables including the “healthy user bias” as well, finding that demographic and lifestyle differences could not have accounted for the finding.

A sacred relationship

As someone who mindlessly threw processed food into my gas tank for 3 decades of my life, the notion of a sacred relationship with food was completely anathema to me at the start of my healing journey. Now, it has become clear – every bite you put in your mouth was destined just for you. It grew, developed, and traveled to your mouth. Not his, not hers, not mine. Yours. The relationship to our food is highly personal and deeply meaningful.

That’s why we have to open ourselves up to receive our own intuitive messages. We have to move beyond dogma and even cultural expectations. In order to do this, you need to get clear – eliminate addictive substances like processed wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and coffee. Practice daily meditation, conscious consumerism, and in some cases, active detox.

Then you will be able to discern whether or not a therapeutic model that includes pastured animal foods and red meat is part of a healing relationship for you.

If this video makes your mouth water, it’s certainly possible that steaks, stews, and bunless burgers may very well liberate you from an experience of depression you thought you were destined to be shackled to for life.

Interested in more insights and tools to help you Own Your Self?

My newest book, Own Your Self, helps you discover the meaning behind your symptoms and your struggle as a way to reclaim your health and your Self. Click below to claim your copy today.

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About Dr. Kelly Brogan

KELLY BROGAN, MD, is a holistic psychiatrist, author of the New York Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your OwnOwn Your Self, the children’s book, A Time For Rain, and co-editor of the landmark textbook Integrative Therapies for Depression. She is the founder of the online healing program Vital Mind Reset, and the membership community, Vital Life Project. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from M.I.T. in Systems Neuroscience. She is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. Learn More