Monday, November 17, 2014

My complete letter to the weekend Argus regarding the Banting diet (Tim Noakes)

Prof Tim Noakes was thinking in a unidirectional way when he wrote his book. Unfortunately the body has more than one system and to only look at the endocrine system is in my view, a mistake. Diabetes is on the increase throughout the Western world because of the shocking western diet - high in processed foods, salt, sugar and fat, and low in fibre, fruits and vegetables. Prof Noakes claims it is genetic. 

In South Africa we have many people blindly and slavishly following the Banting diet without any knowledge of their own physiology. I have patients whose cholesterol levels have soared on the diet, with an increase in LDL and a lowering of HDL, including raised triglycerides. Not a good scenario, any cardiologist would agree. 

Many people on the Banting diet will love the permission to eat more meat (usually from feedlot farms) and fat and not worry too much about vegetables. By doing so they will increase the amounts of veterinary drug residues, like deworming drugs, antibiotics, hormones etc and  other toxins that are stored in animal fat, Omega 6 which occurs in feedlot raised animals and causes increased inflammation, and nitrates from processed meat which predispose one to cancer. At the same time there is a reduction in valuable fibre from grains and root vegetables, a consequent reduction in short chain fatty acids made by gut flora(which act as anti-inflammatories);  a change in gut flora to bacteroides which can predispose one to colon cancer. High fat diets leading to increased amounts of bile acid predispose one to colon cancer, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel disease to mention a few problems. Healthy gut flora play an important role in protecting us against disease; a diet high in fat and low in fibre could do the opposite. 

The Banting diet actually recommends that people cut out refined carbohydrates. This is a good idea. Whole grains and fibrous vegetables like beetroot (which Prof Noakes doesn’t allow) are important dietary elements.  We need plenty of fibre and the micronutrients and phytochemicals from a vast array of colourful (preferably organically grown) grains, fruits and vegetables to have a healthy microbiome which will keep us healthy.





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