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Cape Town - Children should be eating animal organs instead of carbohydrates such as pap and bread, says sport scientist Tim Noakes.
Carbohydrates were not only low in nutrition, they caused a spike in insulin and drove hunger, he said in giving a public lecture at the Baxter Theatre complex at UCT on Tuesday.
Noakes advocates a high fat, low-carbohydrate diet, and his book of guidelines and recipes for such a regime has sold a record 120 000 copies.
He said he was soon to launch an intervention in the Karoo to change the diet of children in under-resourced communities from one high in carbohydrates that were cheap but low in nutrition to one that was equally affordable yet more satisfying and nutritious.
“Carbohydrates drive hunger. They do not satiate us. It is as simple as that.
“Children in the Karoo have access to animal organs, but they are not eating the parts of the animal that will help them. The liver, the marrow and the organs are the healthiest parts of the animal.”
These were far better for a growing child than foods like bread and potatoes that briefly filled the belly, but caused a spike in insulin.
He said the organs and intestines of a sheep cost R40, were nutritious and could easily feed 14 people.
Noakes dismissed claims by detractors at Stellenbosch University that his diet, popularly known as the Banting diet, was not healthier than what they said was “a balanced diet”.
It was difficult for the world to move away from the notion that a diet that included a high percentage of carbohydrates was good for you.
“They falsely claim that such a carb-heavy eating plan is a ‘balanced diet’ when we don’t need carbs at all and carbs are responsible for many diseases.”
Taking the audience on a scientific and historical journey of the lipophobia – a fear of fats – that had gripped parts of the world for several decades, Noakes demonstrated how eating guidelines in the US, which advocated carbs and shunned fats, had brought about an unprecedented obesity epidemic in that country by 1980, just a few years after the guidelines were released.
Many people were genetically prone to Type 2 diabetes and this, combined with a diet high in carbs, was a recipe for disaster. Studies that ascribed a rise in heart disease to foods such as fatty burger patties had not factored in the bun that went with the patty, the cold drink that washed it down, and the potatoes fried in vegetable oil that were also part of the meal.
“Lipophobia is the single most important commercial driver of modern nutritional advice.” Sugar was the most addictive substance, and vegetable oils were also extremely bad for the body.
The Banting diet advocates an intake of less than 25 grams of carbohydrates a day, and favours coconut oil, butter and lard over margarine and vegetable oils.
Noakes said that a recent book, The Big Fat Surprise, by investigative journalist Nina Teicholz, scientifically debunked lipophobic myths that had been around for decades.
Researchers at Stellenbosch University would do well to read its contents, the UCT professor said.
Jonno Proudfoot, the co-author of Noakes’s book The Real Meal Revolution, says: “The book has polarised people and you have to ask why. If you are Banting, you are part of a global revolution. That is why we say it is changing the way people think about food and that we want to change the world ‘one meal at a time’.”
To date, R600 000 in profits from the book have been given to Operation Smile, which provides free surgery to correct cleft palates and other facial defects in children.