healthy with nicole
A mother-of-two ditched the vegan diet she followed for fifteen years after she claims it caused her immune system to crash - and now only eats meat.

Nicole Carter, 44, of California, went vegan when she was 18, thinking it was the best thing to do for her health and to protect the environment.

Her diet was packed with whole foods, leafy greens, berries and freshly squeezed juices. She grew her own vegetables and cut out sugar and alcohol.

But her health flopped, suffering with joint pain, anxiety, depression, low energy, insomnia, constipation and digestive problems.

She was eventually diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in September 2012, a painful condition in which the bowels are inflamed.

Then, a year ago, Ms Carter came across the controversial carnivore diet after reading positive ways it had improved others' health.

Since switching to a diet of a pound-and-a-half (468 grams) of red meat a day, Ms Carter claims her ulcerative colitis symptoms have been relieved, and she has gone from 9st 4lb (59kg) when she was vegan to 8st 6lb (54kg) without a change in exercise regime.

Ms Carter believes she was malnourished as a vegan - but experts say a high-meat and low-vegetable diet lacks vital vitamins and minerals and is linked to cancers, digestive problems and heart disease.

Comment: Nonsense. Never listen to 'experts'.

Speaking of her days as a vegan, Ms Carter, who works as a health coach, said: 'I felt good at first, then very tired.

'My immune system crashed and my hormones were not functioning properly and I had all sorts of health problems.'

She added: 'I no longer have any of the annoying symptoms or problems I had before... I am so grateful for what I have learned that got me here.'

As well as the symptoms listed above, Ms Carter said she suffered with hair loss, fatigue and the overgrowth of candida - a fungi in the body which can lead to various health issues when out of control, such as thrush in the vagina.

'I had raging candida overgrowth, hair loss, joint pain, fatigue and insomnia.

Ms Carter had pancreatitis caused by gallstones - a common complication when a gallstone blocks the opening duct of the pancreas - leading to the removal of her gall bladder in 2006.

She added: 'My blood tests showed almost non-existent levels of iron and Vitamin D... . I was hypoglycaemic [when you have low blood sugar]. I had chronic constipation, gas, bloating and eventually ulcerative colitis.

'I had insomnia at night and no energy all day - I didn't drink coffee, only organic green tea. I was depressed, had anxiety and felt lost as to how to improve my health.'

Desperate, Ms Carter tried everything to try to improve her health and took natural supplements to give herself a boost - but nothing worked.

Although a specific diet is not thought to play a role in causing ulcerative colitis, some people with the condition identify triggers of a flare-up.

She read about a carnivore diet proponent called Amber O'Hearn who had been following a strictly meat-only diet for ten years to help a mood disorder - although it is not clear what the disorder was.

'I was curious if it would cure my autoimmune disease, ulcerative colitis,' Ms Carter said. 'My health is better, my gut, my energy and my mood.

'It is the elimination of all plant and non-animal foods. There are varying degrees, but most carnivores focus on beef and ruminant animals and add in pork, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy to some degree.'

It was a stark contrast from what Ms Carter was used to. Before, she would start her day with a green spinach smoothie with almond milk and then eat salad or steamed vegetables for the rest of the day.

Ms Carter said: 'I roasted my sweet potatoes, rinsed my quinoa to remove saponins. I made dehydrated crackers out of flaxseeds, my own veggie burgers and nut milks.'

'I ate brown rice instead of white to get more fibre, mostly leafy greens such as kale, chard and rocket and I cooked greens as well. I avoided wheat. I consumed juices made freshly daily. I ate fresh berries.

'I ate as much as I could organic or grown from my yard and spent most of my days preparing all this stuff, growing it in my garden, or shopping at farm stands and natural markets.

'I took vitamins, I never ate sugar and I didn't drink alcohol.'

Now, Ms Carter, who still doesn't have sugar or alcohol, typically starts her day with coffee with cream. She waits until lunch for her first meal, having a pound of meat such as steak.

She has half a pound of meat for dinner, sometimes adding bacon and eggs, and drinks coffee, water and sparkling water.

Ms Carter described the carnivore diet as extremely nutritious and also claims it eliminates foods that affect the human gut, such as fibre.

However, fibre is recommended for a healthy digestive system and to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

Ms Carter said her favourite meal to prepare is roast lamb - but eating like this constantly does come with a constant battle of 'misconceptions'.

She said: 'The hard thing for most is eating enough. The other hard thing is the social aspect.

'Most people can't wrap their head around it because of being told their entire lives that they need vegetables.

'My life is entirely better... I also have a lot more time for other things now that I don't spend all my time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up. I also save a lot of money this way.'

Sharing advice about her diet on Instagram, Ms Carter even suggests people cut down on their vegetables.

However, based on evidence, it is recommended to eat a balanced diet incorporating the five main food groups and five portions of both fruit and vegetables to get a wide range of nutrients.

She said: 'Simply start reducing the amount of plant foods you eat. Don't do it cold turkey, especially if you are coming from a heavy plant-based diet. Take it slow.

'Be open minded. If you have unresolved health issues of any kind, try it.'

For more information see Ms Carter's Instagram under the handle @healthy-with-nicole.