THE results of a lifestyle intervention in a Canadian community is proof that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet can reverse metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions which includes heart disease and diabetes, Professor Tim Noakes said yesterday.
Noakes said no one took notice because no one makes money from putting people on a high-fat diet.
He was back on the stand at the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) inquiry into his professional conduct.
Noakes is accused of acting unprofessionally by advising Pippa Leenstra to wean her baby on to a low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF).
Leenstra had tweeted him and nutritional therapist Sally-Ann Creed to ask if the LCHF Banting diet was safe for babies of breast-feeding mothers.
Noakes had replied on Twitter: “Baby doesn’t eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high-fat breast milk. Key is to wean baby on to LCHF.”
Giving evidence, he pointed to a paper published in the South African Medical Journal last year, written by him and Dr Stefan du Toit.
Du Toit was working in a Canadian community in 2011 which had high levels of obesity. He introduced an LCHF diet as one component of an intervention.
Noakes said it wasn’t a clinical trial. They discovered what worked and amplified it. As participants’ health improved, their need for medication decreased.
“Metabolic syndrome is seen to be irreversible and you need medication. They were initially put on a low-fat diet and then moved to a high-fat diet.
“When you’re initially losing weight you are burning your own fat stores, so it is high-fat diet. But then fat is reintroduced to make sure they are not hungry. You have to increase fat consumption to take away hunger. The consequence is that people eat less,” he said.
Of the 139 patients, more than 57.6 percent had metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure. The population was profoundly diabetic, he said.
Six months later, most of the 57 percent had lost weight and reversed their metabolic syndrome. Only 20 percent still had metabolic syndrome.
He said this was absolute evidence an LCHF diet worked.
At the heart of the debate yesterday was whether Noakes stood accused because he tweeted about paediatric nutrition or if it was because an LCHF diet was on trial.
Earlier in the day committee chairperson advocate Joan Adams ruled that Noakes could call Dr Caryn Zinn, a dietitian from New Zealand and author of What the Fat?; Dr Zoe Harcombe from the UK, whose PhD thesis will be used to bolster Noakes’s case; and Nina Teicholz, a science journalist from New York and author of The Big Fat Surprise, as witnesses.
In making her ruling, Adams said it was a serious charge and the hearing had cost millions to date.
She said the outcome would have serious consequences for the HPCSA, Noakes, all health-care professionals, dietitians and all interested in the matter.
Noakes said it was strange that the complainant had not been Leenstra, but that Claire Julsing-Strydom, a past president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), had laid the charge.
“I would argue the reason she complained was because of the effect of the publication of the (Noakes) book, The Real Meal Revolution. The complaint was lodged three months after its publication.
“What fired up the complainant was that we wrote a book and she took exception to that book.
“I provided an opinion on weaning and not breast- feeding. I am being charged for something I did not say,” Noakes said.