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Chef manages arthritis, loses weight with low carb high fat ketogenic Paleo diet

Learn how a chef regained his health through diet.
Learn how a chef regained his health through diet.
Photo by Neilson Barnard

Chronic pain can result from a variety of conditions, ranging from arthritis to fibromyalgia to migraines. One problem that sufferers experience: Medication side-effects can be as debilitating as the pain. Now a celebrity chef is revealing how he used the low carb high fat ketogenic diet both for weight loss and to take control of his rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain in a podcast Wednesday.

Celebrity chef Seamus Mullen was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis seven years ago. Because this condition results in chronic inflammation of the immune system, it causes mobility problems and joint pain. And although Seamus did receive some relief from medication, he had to stop exercising.

After gaining 40 pounds and struggling with repeated bouts of pain, Seamus decided to experiment with his diet. His hope: That food could do more than help him lose weight. It could actually improve his qualify of life.

In the podcast with host Ben Greenfield, Seamus revealed that the changes are remarkable since fine-tuning his diet. He achieved his weight loss goals and was able to stop all medications for the first time in more than a decade. Seamus has authored a book that incorporates both his diet and the recipes that he created to complement his food plan: "Seamus Mullen's Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better."

Who are the "heroes" that he celebrates in the title? Real, holistic food, from eggs to eggplant, as well as quality protein such as wild fish. Seamus emphasizes that it's essential to choose unprocessed foods fresh throughout the year, shifting them in each season.

Seamus noted that his journey to reversing his disease was complex. His holistic approach included a systemic cleanse, a protocol designed to heal his gut and a ketogenic low carb high fat (LCHF) diet. He experienced the benefits in how he felt - and they showed up in his blood work as well.

About his diet: In an interview with Men's Journal magazine, Seamus noted that his ketogenic diet includes large amounts of animal fat, fresh vegetables and protein. Off the menu: Grain-based foods and sugar. His body fat is enviable: 14 percent body fat, with perfect cholesterol readings.

And while Seamus uses the ketogenic diet for his health and weight loss, podhost host Been Greenfield utilizes the same guidelines for athleticism. He notes that what he calls the "metabolic superiority of using fats as fuel" has been proven by research showing it provides significant benefits in aerobic power and efficiency. Ben has authored a book that includes his views on ketogenic diets and the proper percentages of carbohydrates, fats and protein: "Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life." As part of his research on the topic, he noted that the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been investigating ketogenic diets to improve soldiers' performance.

As for Seamus' use of LCHF diets for autoimmune diseases, he's joined by an increasing number of LCHF dieters who say that they found relief from their own conditions through dramatic changes to their diets. For example, when she was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, formerly active Dr. Terry Wahls found herself dependent upon a wheelchair. She designed her own protocol that featured a modified Paleo approach with a high fat, low carbohydrate ketogenic diet, documenting it in "The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine."

Paleo diet expert Sarah D. Ballantyne, Ph.D., contends that the Paleo diet on its own can help autoimmune disease sufferers to ease pain and symptoms. She cites research and studies showing that foods highlighted in many suppposed healthy diets (soy, whole grains and low-fat dairy) actually are linked to and exacerbate autoimmune conditions. Sarah has written about her Paleo diet approach in "The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body."

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