Mikhaila Peterson's all-beef strategy for arthritis & depression
Mikhaila Peterson only eats beef.
No vegetables, no fruit, no grains, no nothing - and yes, she knows it’s strange, describing it to me as “ridiculous sounding”.
But the 26-year-old mum of one, and daughter of famous psychologist Jordan Peterson, sees the the all-beef way of eating as a necessity after crediting it with the elimination of her severe arthritis, depression, chronic fatigue and skin problems.
To most healthy people, the idea of such a restrictive diet sounds miserable, but when you listen to Mikhaila outlining her medical history of autoimmune issues, you quickly realise she’s suffered worse.
In #HealthHackers episode 17, Mikhaila told me she was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis aged seven and had to have hip and ankle replacements at the age of 17.
She was diagnosed with depression in the fifth grade (that’s the last year of junior school for you UK readers), and also later developed fatigue, skin rashes and cystic acne into her early twenties.
“The arthritis was bad, the depression was bad, but as soon as it got to my skin I was like, ‘Oh now whatever’s wrong with me is visible and that’s just so much worse.’ ”
Mikhaila decided to experiment with diet; cutting out various foods and reintroducing them to see the effects on her symptoms, eventually concluding she was having bad reactions to most of what she was eating.
One day in December 2017, she typed into Google: “Being allergic to everything except from meat” and read about a couple of people who had been eating only meat long-term.
“I thought, ‘Well ok, if it doesn’t kill you I’m just going to give it a try,’ ” she told me.
Within weeks she says her symptoms started to lift and “things have just been getting better since then”.
She’s now quit all of her medication - although she never recommends her followers do this.
Throughout the process of experimenting with different foods, Mikhaila became pregnant and had a baby girl.
However, she is raising her daughter, who at the time of recording the podcast had just stopped breastfeeding, on a more varied diet than hers.
“We’ve given her carrots and parsnips and sweet potatoes.
“I’m always going to keep her diet high in meat.
“We’re probably going to do something that’s kind of Paleo-ketogenic.
“But I’m not going to keep her on all beef.”
Nutritionists have denounced diets that claim to cure medical conditions and have warned about potentially harmful effects of a restricted eating plan that could be lacking in essential nutrients.
Mikhaila said she’s sympathetic to those views but defended her decision to sell dietary consultations online.
“Most of it’s pretty simple, like, ‘How to cook meat without oil.’ ”
“I think a lot of them [clients] are people who were sick and just want to talk to somebody who was also sick.”
She says none of her views should be considered nutritional advice and has no plans to get qualifications in dietetics, saying current nutrition guidelines are “upside down.”
After nine months on her all-beef diet, Mikhaila posted her blood test markers on her Don’t Eat That blog.
The results were normal, with a raised ferritin level (arguably to be expected in a diet high in iron).
I’ve interviewed figures from all kinds of dietary backgrounds on HealthHackers; vegan, ketogenic, Mediterranean, LCHF, gut-friendly, flexitarian and more. Mikhaila is the first all-beef eater.
A lifestyle that works for one person may never work for another, but it makes me happy to see someone find a method that works for them, even if it does raise eyebrows.
As long as that individual remains healthy, I wish them the best.
After all, each of us is trying to achieve the same thing, right? A life free from illness and suffering.
Mikhaila’s full story is an extraordinary one and very much worth a listen.