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Low carb Paleo diet helps MS and weight loss: Dr. Perlmutter explains benefits

Include healthy fats such as avocado on your Paleo diet.
Include healthy fats such as avocado on your Paleo diet.
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

When it comes to the newest weight loss research, more experts are advising dieters to shift to low carb diets and sugar-free, grain-free Paleo plans. But replacing sugar and grains with protein and healthy fats can provide benefits beyond weight loss. For Jack Osbourne and singer Chad Vaccarino, a Paleo low carb diet has become the key to managing multiple sclerosis, reported the International Business Times on August 13.

Diagnosed with MS when he was 28, Chad sought help from traditional Western medicine. But when he learned about Dr. Terry Wahls' high fat low carb Paleo protocol for MS, Chad decided to try her alternative therapy approach. The improvement was dramatic.

With symptoms such as lack of coordination, extreme fatigue and speech problems, MS could have sidelined Chad. But he said his symptoms "went away completely. It was all the diet."

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Wahls explained that her version of the Paleo diet is a high fat ketogenic approach. It involves moderate amounts of protein, high amounts of healthy fats and generous servings of vegetables.

"There is considerable research showing that ketosis increases the nerve growth factors that are important to repairing damaged brain cells. Studies are underway of ketogenic diets for seizures, Parkinson's, ALS, and MS," Dr. Wahls revealed. She noted that many of her patients also benefit from weight loss after following the ketogenic diet.

Jack Osbourne also has been candid about his choice of a Paleo high fat low carb diet to battle his own MS. He appeared on Dr. Mehmet Oz's talk show and cited the anti-inflammation benefits of Paleo diets.

"At its core, I look at MS as inflammation, so I try and eliminate foods that cause inflammation. Dairy, gluten, grains," explained Jack. He was diagnosed with the condition soon after his daughter Pearl was born.

Paleo-style high fat low carb diets also can help with conditions ranging from dementia to depression, says Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the "Grain Brain" weight loss and diet program. A neurologist, Dr. Perlmutter completely eliminating all grains as well as sugar and boosting fat intake, reported 620 WTMJ News on August 12.

"We're desperate for fat, our immune systems require fat, every cell in your body is made up of a lot of fat, and your brain is more than 60 percent fat," Dr. Perlmutter declared. He's helped patients achieve their weight loss goals as well as cured them of conditions such as migraines.

"It is a high fat diet that will only work if you cut the carbs," added the physician. "So as long as you're eating high fat and still have a lot of carbs in your diet, you're going to stimulate insulin which signals your body to retain fat, and generate new fat and locks up your current fat and doesn't allow you break it down to use as calories."

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Perlmutter clarified the optimal amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat. "For most people, keeping total carbohydrates to around 60 to 80 g per day offers up the best in terms of keeping blood sugar in check and allowing weight loss and ultimately weight stabilization," he said.

How much fat should you consume? "I'd like to see at least 70% of calories coming from fat, including olive oil, nuts, seeds, grass fed beef, fish, and pasture raised eggs," Dr. Perlmutter told me. And the benefits of this type of plan encompass all ages.

"As far as children are concerned, when their diets are changed as described in Grain Brain, their results are really quite remarkable as positive changes happen so much more quickly compared to us older adults," he said. Dr. Perlmutter has been impressed with the benefits of the "Grain Brain" diet in his patients.

"I continue to practice medicine. I treat patients each day with things like depression and Alzheimer's disease and watching patients respond to a low carbohydrate higher fat diet in terms of these and other issues has been incredibly exciting," he said.

For these diets, quality counts, Dr. Perlmutter and other experts emphasize. Choose whole foods, such as avocado and grass-fed beef, rather than processed such as frozen beef patties.