Comment: I am trained in Naturopathy,

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I am trained in Naturopathy,

and prior to this, I spent several years on a high (95%) vegetable, amino-rich, protein-combining diet, with little red meat, and the meat I ate was mostly fish. Coupled with that, I avoided ingesting saturated fats.

My health, between the time that I stopped eating red meat and started again, declined drastically.

a) My adrenal glands stopped producing sufficient adrenaline
b) My adrenal glands began over-producing cortisol
c) I showed strong signs of protein deficiency
d) I gained 35 kg (my weight from age 17 to age 29 was 69-71 kg. I hit 105 kg over 9 months. I'm 5'9" and was eating roughly 2200 calories a day over this period)
e) My joints deteriorated, and I developed systemic inflammation; migraines, neck aches, osteoarthritis in my knees, psoriasis on my elbows, knees, scalp, arms.
f) My energy levels fell to rock-bottom lows.
g) Around 28/29, I developed severe kidney damage, with pooling of fluids in the tissues around my ankles.
h) My previously sharp and quick intelligence devolved to the point that I mentally felt like I was swimming in a fog. I could not think properly.
i) My hairline thinned and began to recede
j) I developed permanent 'panda-eyes' (dark circles) and a puffy face
k) My temper degenerated, and I was prone to hot flashes of anger, making my wife and children's lives stressful and negative
l) I began, for the first time in my life, to be extremely susceptible to colds/flus/warts and other pathogens
m) I developed regular migraines (inflammation of the brain)
n) My gall-bladder and liver became clogged with toxic, pasty bile and gallstones
o) My blood was taken, and tested. The lab tech described it as having the 'consistency of glue'
p) I developed a sensitivity to wheat and dairy (extreme inflammation triggered by consumption of even organic dairy food)

First, I'd like to say that the laundry list(!) of symptoms above cannot be blamed entirely on my lack of red meat consumption. But they were related. And here's how:
1) I am blood type O. O-types evolved first in human development, and most efficiently break down meat proteins. My kidneys/adrenals require sufficient amounts of proteins in the right combinations, in order to produce hormones and to maintain their structure and integrity, and require saturated fats to provide the cholesterol framework upon which hormones are produced.
2) Cortisol is produced when the body undergoes a stress condition. Our lives are full of stressors, as compared to previous generations, because we have become more mentally demanding upon ourselves. Previously, we had mainly physical stress, which is known as 'exercise'. Mental stress produces physical changes in the body that can trigger highly abnormal levels of cortisol to be released. An over-abundance of cortisol causes breakdown of tissues in organs, the brain, and muscle. It also displaces adrenaline and testosterone in the body, and, if sustained, can result in long-term hormonal imbalance. My lack of saturated fat intake had reduced my hormone production to rock-bottom levels, and the cortisol had displaced testosterone and adrenaline, to the point where my tissues were literally breaking down. My HPAT-axis (Hypothalamus-adrenal-pituitary-thyroid) was, as a result, heavily under strain, and itself turned to perpetuating the problem.
3) I lost muscle mass. My fingernails developed 'half-moons', which is a sign of protein deficiency. My skin was also pale, showing a lack of (absorbable) iron (spinach doesn't cut it, although it is an awesome food).
4) My hormonal imbalance resulted in this weight gain. It was also influenced by heavy metal toxicity (HMT), which, when present, causes the body to try to store the metals in fats as an emergency measure (as the liver/kidneys cannot effectively remove them without aid). One of the primary dietary recommendations for HMT is sufficient animal protein and saturated fat intake, because the brain needs these proteins and fats to protect its neurons from (primarily, but not solely) the effects of mercury.
5) There are a number of reasons for my inflammation symptoms. Part of it has to do with the gut. Candida features here, and is a result of imbalanced gut flora. Imbalanced gut flora results from an imbalanced diet, mineral imbalances, and lack of HCl in the stomach. During my low-meat years, I had trouble digesting meat when I did eat it. This was due to low HCl levels. This (helped to allow) my gut lining to deteriorate and allow semi-digested foods to enter my bloodstream. My immune system then identified these improperly broken-down as pathogens, and the resulting auto-immune reaction began attacking tissues throughout my body that resembled these same proteins. This was not quite leaky gut syndrome, but I was getting close to it.
6) My low energy levels were the result of a number of factors. First, my lack of adrenaline and overproduction of cortisol placed undue stress on my organs. Also, my toxicity, and lack of required proteins to repair damage and be utilised in toxin removal, caused my liver and kidneys to really strain to do their jobs. This causes fatigue, in a vicious circle kind of way.
7) My kidneys were damaged by lack of protein and overload of stress, as mentioned above.
8) I have had HMT for most of my life. It was sub-clinical (meaning not detected easily) up until the point that I stopped eating decent amounts of meats. Because the brain requires proteins to protect itself from (particularly) mercury and aluminium attack, when I stopped eating meat in abundance, my neurons simply stopped recovering from the damage from these metals. I literally became dumber. I guess it is a testament to my overall intelligence that I still was able to comprehend Ron Paul at this time, and learn Austrian Economics :)
9) My hair thinning and falling out is also a sign of HMT. It is partly the result of mineral imbalance, brought on by heavy metal toxicity. The insight here is that my liver was unable to remove particular heavy metals due to my lack of protein. These proteins aid in producing liver detoxification chemicals that remove toxins.
10) Panda-eyes is the result of kidney and adrenal strain, which, in my case, were predominantly caused by their inability to repair themselves, due to lack of protein. Having a puffy face is a sign of water imbalance, which is predominantly caused by dysfunctional kidneys, and lymphatic insufficiency. (Lymphatic channels become clogged when the blood becomes thick, and so the body has difficulty draining fluids away from the interstitial spaces)
11) Due to lack of protein preventing my brain from repairing itself from the damage by mercury and aluminium, my brain also became laden with copper. If you see someone who is often tense, stressed and is prone to hot flashes of anger, it is highly likely that they have a copper-dominant mineral imbalance, usually due to HMT.
12) The lack of protein, and the presence of heavy metals, resulted in an inability for my body to produce immune cells in sufficient quantities. This made me susceptible to invading pathogens.
13) My migraines are covered by my explanation of inflammation above.
14) Along with the saturated fat myth, has come the recommendation that people ingest large quantities of vegetable oils as replacement. These oils, when heated, easily convert to trans fats. Trans fat intake causes the bile to precipitate out of solution. This causes the pipes in the gall bladder and liver to become clogged with the trans-fat-affected bile. Over time, they form balls of solidified bile, which clog the gallbladder entirely. At this point, it becomes difficult to digest any fats. Vicious circle, again. Beware potato chips, and realise that McDonalds was far more healthy before they were lobbied to stop using animal fats to cook their fries.
15) My blood had become the consistency of glue, thick and pasty. This was primarily due to my gut disorder, and autoimmune condition. But it increased the stress on my liver/kidneys/spleen/pancreas markedly, and damaged most organs in my body. Lack of protein to repair the damage meant I was becoming sicker by the day.
16) As mentioned above, my gut damage is mainly responsible for my allergic conditions.

So what's the point? The point is that, in my condition, I required animal proteins and saturated fats, not only as a dietary requirement, but as a requirement for healing my body.

A poster below has pointed out that everybody needs a different diet. This is very true. There is no one diet that works for everybody. Some people (particularly blood type A's) can do very well on vegetarian diets (they must still carefully protein-combine, in order to stay in good health). Others miss meat dearly, in their health and their palates. Claiming that one diet is good for all is like claiming that all laws should be federal. Or that all power should be centralised because the leaders know what is 'best' for all of us. The insight of individualism/libertarianism is that different situations require different solutions. And we are all nothing, if not different.

EDIT {
I forgot to detail my recovery!
1) Most symptoms are alleviated. I still carry extra weight, though with exercise, the pounds are coming off. I still have inflammation occasionally, as my practitioner adjusts my heavy metal chelation components. I feel great. And I eat meat every day (a variety of red meats, fish etc).
}

Here are my recommendations for health in the modern western world:
1) Get yourself checked for Heavy Metal Toxicity. Don't use a doctor or blood tests for this; they have a very high threshold point for toxicity, and so many cases go untreated. There is no safe level for mercury/aluminium/uranium etc in your body. Find a QRA practitioner who is experienced and/or specialises in Heavy Metal Detox. This point cannot be stressed enough. Heavy Metal contamination is all around us. Nearly everyone in the west is likely to have some level of these metals. And there is no safe level.
2) Eat a diet that makes you feel good. In this, I mean eat what makes you feel good after trying it for a couple of weeks. If you don't thrive on your diet, then you aren't doing it right.You may be a vegetarian, you may be paleo, you may be eating raw fish. And your diet may change over time, as your nutritional needs vary.
3) Get sufficient minerals, in any case. Minerals are active in all body systems. Our biochemical pathways require proper mineral imbalance to perform their functions. All the nutrition in the world will not bring you health if you have a mineral imbalance. CMD (concentrated mineral drops), sourced from the Great Lakes, are an excellent addition to your water, particularly if the water is distilled or filtered. Heavy metals cause constant mineral imbalance, because they chemically mimic the minerals we need. This causes the body to store and excrete the good minerals, while replacing them with the heavy metals. Zinc is particularly compromised. But be careful with zinc. Toxicity is just as bad as deficiency.
4) Exercise!. At your comfort level, in the form that fulfils you, as an individual. Enjoyment is key. You should feel energised after you exercise.
5) De-stress. Learn to recognise your stressors, and reactions to those stressors, and consciously switch off your reactions. This also cannot be stressed(!) enough. Mental and emotional stress puts you in a constant state of shock (fight-or-flight) and it is easy to get stuck in this (another vicious circle). It's called adrenal fatigue. Choose your destiny. Realise that you can be who you want to be, and react how you want to react. Start to discern between what really matters, and what really doesn't.
6) If you have symptoms, find a great practitioner. I went through six practitioners over the last six years. I have been with my current practitioner for the last four years. It takes time and money, but it's worth your life.

And love life, and knowledge, and people, and struggle. Thrive.

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" - Patrick Henry