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Jack Osbourne manages MS with ketogenic Paleo low carb diet used for weight loss

Jack Osbourne controls multiple sclerosis with Paleo diet.
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez

When Jack Osbourne learned that he had multiple sclerosis, he investigated his options for managing the symptoms that accompany the condition. He chose a Paleo low carb diet because of its anti-inflammation benefits, reported the International Business Times on August 7. A high fat ketogenic diet, it also has become popular for its weight loss benefits.

Jack made the announcement about his decision to use a diet as an alternative therapy for his MS when he was a guest on Dr. Mehmet Oz's talk show. In addition to a Paleo diet, Jack uses a juicing regimen to increase his nutrition.

Although many have contributed to the growing field of knowledge since Paleo diets became popular, much of the credit for detailing why and how to follow a Paleo diet goes to Dr. Loren Cordain, author of "The Paleo Answer." He conducted extensive research to determine precisely in what ways Paleo diets can help with weight loss as well as battling inflammation to help conditions such as MS.

"A Great Big World" singer Chad Vaccarino also uses a Paleo diet to control his MS symptoms. He made the announcement via a video posting, in which he described his symptoms that included "buckling of my legs, vertigo, tingling in my arms and legs."

Diagnosed with MS, Chad first tried injections. However, that treatment resulted in "symptoms worse than the symptoms I was already experiencing." Then he discovered Dr. Terry Wahls, who has created a unique alternative therapy based on the Paleo diet.

Both Chad and Jack follow the protocol developed by Dr. Wahls. It involves a high fat ketogenic version of the Paleo diet, detailed in her book "The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles." Vegetables, meat and healthy fats play key role, while grains and dairy are eliminated completely in this low carb diet.

Paleo-style low carb diets, in particular ketogenic high fat diets, are increasingly used as alternative treatments. In addition to MS, ketogenic diets can help to control epilepsy and certain forms of cancer as well as accelerate weight loss, reported the Daily Health on August 7.

Physicians initially used the ketogenic diet for epilepsy after finding that it can disrupt the neurons resulting in epileptic seizures. For parents with children diagnosed with epilepsy that cannot be treated with medication, a ketogenic diet can be a positive alternative. However, it does require strict adherence to the proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrate.

The ketogenic diet can be modified for different needs. As a result, it can range from 40 percent to 75 percent fat, 20 percent to 30 percent protein and five percent to 30 percent carbohydrate, depending on whether the goal is weight loss through nutritional ketosis or management of a condition such as epilepsy or MS.

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Wahls discussed how she developed her protocol for MS, and why controlling inflammation is so significant. She began by studying the research conducted by "Dr. Cordain and his advocacy of the Paleo diet as a means of treating autoimmune conditions and improving health."

Prior to changing to a Paleo diet, Dr. Wahls had devoted two decades to a vegetarian approach. But she evaluated the scientific studies supporting the Paleo diet and decided to try it.

"I added meat back to my diet and removed grain, dairy and legumes," she said. In addition to those Paleo diet changes, Dr. Wahls investigated research on which vitamins and minerals had been shown to protect laboratory animals from various "neurodegenerative disorders. I translated the mouse doses to human size doses and began the first round of self-experimentation."

But MS continued to attack her body. "By 2007 I was too weak to sit in a regular chair and needed to be fully reclined or in bed. That was when I discovered the Institute for Functional Medicine."

Dr. Wahls learned more about how she could protect her brain. She translated a long list of helpful supplements into specific foods, combined those with the Paleo diet principles and "the magic began to happen."

After three months, she had regained her energy. Dr. Wahls began to discontinue her prescription medication. Within one year, she completed an 18-mile bike tour.

The potential in using food as medicine has no limits. Dr. Wahls believes that as scientists and physicians explore the possibilities, more conditions can be managed or even reversed with diet.

"For nearly every chronic disease today (high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, neurological problems, mental health problems, autoimmunity, and cancer), it is an interaction with our genes and diet, toxin exposure, physical activity level, stress level, sleep quality and prior infections that account for the development of disease. The DNA accounts for five percent or less of the risk and the environment accounts for 95 percent," she said.

Dr. Wahls revealed that current studies include using ketogenic diets to treat "other neurological and psychiatric disorders including brain cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s, MS, dementia, bipolar, depression and schizophrenia." She also supports the research indicating that they can make a dramatic difference for weight loss and diabetes.

Ketogenic diets make weight loss easier because they curb hunger, said Dr. Wahls. By eating fat, protein, non-starchy vegetables and low-glycemic fruits such as berries, you will feel more satisfied for a longer period of time than if you consumed the same number of calories but ate foods such as bread, pasta and candy bars.

"I see this in my clinics and in our clinical trial," noted Dr. Wahls. "Both men and women who are overweight will lose weight. Because insulin resistance is at the heart of obesity, diabetes, infertility, erectile dysfunction, cognitive decline, atherosclerosis – the Wahls diet plans are effective treatments for many health issues – not just autoimmunity."

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