A monotrophic diet (also known as the mono diet or single-food diet) is a type of fad diet that involves eating only one food item (such as potatoes or apples) or one type of food (such as fruits or meats).
There are examples throughout history of eccentrics living on monotrophic diets. For example, George Sitwell ate only roasted chicken. Howard Hughes would sometimes spend weeks eating nothing but canned soup and at other times only steak sandwiches.
The carnivore diet involves eating only animal products. People following a carnivore diet consume large amounts of meat, such as beef, pork and poultry and some may include dairy products and eggs. The diet can be traced to the German writer Bernard Moncriff, author of The Philosophy of the Stomach: Or, An Exclusively Animal Diet, in 1856.
There is no clinical evidence that the carnivore diet is safe or provides any health benefits and the diet has attracted criticism from physicians and nutritionists as being potentially dangerous to health. Medical experts have warned that the diet can cause vitamin deficiencies and followers run the risk of raising their LDL cholesterol, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Criticism also derives from concerns about greenhouse gas emissions associated with large-scale livestock farming required to produce meats commercially, and the potential for such emissions to worsen climate change.
In the 1920s the milk diet fad was popularized by physical culturist Bernarr Macfadden. He advertised the diet as a remedy for diverse ailments such as eczema, hay fever and impotence. Macfadden's milk only regime was excessive and recommended 28 cups of milk a day.
In 2010, Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, ate twenty potatoes a day for two months. He accepted that the diet is not sustainable in the long term but said his experiment had revealed how "truly healthy" potatoes are.
In 2016, comedian and magician Penn Jillette began his weight loss regimen with a mono diet, eating only potatoes for two weeks, then adding in other healthy foods to change his eating habits.
Nutritionist Helen Andrews Guthrie has written:
Food patterns that restrict intake to a single item or a limited number of foods lead to nutritional inadequacies. Even a food that is recognized as an important source of a nutrient should not be used as the sole source of nourishment. Spinach, with its high oxalic acid content, may prove toxic; orange juice, devoid of protein, will not support growth; and milk, low in iron, leads to anemia. All these foods, if used alone, will have severe health consequences. However, they make significant contributions as part of a balanced diet.
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