Tim Noakes

Cape Town - If Banting were a drug, people would be signing up to give us a Nobel Prize, Professor Tim Noakes has told the committee investigating his professional conduct.

Monday began what is expected to be the final chapter in the Noakes versus the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) saga, which began with a tweet in February 2014.

The inquiry set out to determine whether Noakes acted professionally by tweeting dietary advice to a breastfeeding mother.

It has ended up putting the low-carb, high-fat diet Noakes advocates on trial.

Noakes presented one study supporting his dietary advice and tore holes in research critical of it.

He presented an article he co-authored as evidence of the benefits of the Banting diet, which studied a group of 372 Canadians.

The group contained a number of people suffering from metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess fat around the waist and high cholesterol, and puts one at risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

After six months on a low-carb, high-fat diet, the number of participants with metabolic syndrome had dropped from 58 percent to 19 percent.

“This is an irreversible condition, and we reversed it by putting people on a diet we are told is dangerous,” Noakes said.

He pulled no punches in lambasting what is considered to be standard modern medical practice, saying drug companies paid millions of dollars to hospitals in the US each year so that doctors would prescribe a particular brand of insulin.

“Insulin is one of the biggest-selling drugs; I’m going to show you it has no effect on the outcome of diabetes.”

Noakes reminded those in the room that diabetes is one of the world’s foremost health problems, costing billions in government health spending every year.

He is flying in a dream team of expert witnesses to give evidence within the next eight days of hearings in Cape Town.

He dubbed his team of three female expert witnesses “#Charlie’sDietAngels”, which his supporters changed to “Tim’s Angels”.

They are 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.

The HPCSA’s legal team took issue with their participation yesterday, citing the fact that they were announced as witnesses only last month and that their expert testimonies are irrelevant to the charges.

But the committee’s chairperson, advocate Joan Adams, dismissed the objections.

Noakes was expected to continue giving evidence on Tuesday.