Professor Tim Noakes appears in an HSPCA hearing for recommending over Twitter that a baby be weaned on to his controversial diet. Picture: Tracey Adams

Cape Town - Professor Tim Noakes says Twitter is a good place to dispense advice because there are always people on it who will correct others.

Noakes, who has 77 000 Twitter followers, is defending himself at the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) inquiry into his professional conduct.

He is accused of acting unprofessionally by advising Pippa Leenstra to wean her baby onto a low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF).

Leenstra had tweeted him and nutritional therapist Sally-Ann Creed, The Real Meal Revolution co-author, to ask if the LCHF Banting diet was safe for babies of breastfeeding 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.”

Under cross-examination by HPCSA advocate Ajay Bhoopchand, who asked if Twitter was the right place to give advice, he said the platform was self-correcting.

“If I were to tweet something wrong, people would criticise me - 77 000 people follow me.

“If I say something that is contradictory they will say, ‘How could you say such a stupid thing’, and I will instantly acknowledge and apologise. Does that happen in other ways?”

He said with the advances in social media there was no longer the notion of the “anointed one”.

“The wisdom of crowds, driven by information on social media and blogs, are where people get information.

“Having access to all this information from different people is not a danger, but an advantage. The danger was instead to those people who believed they had all the power. They will be destroyed,” Noakes said.

He added he had not responded to Leenstra about the impact cauliflower and dairy products eaten by breastfeeding mothers would have on the infants.

He said he had left that up to Creed to respond to because she was the nutritionist.

“The weaning onto a LCHF diet is entirely compatible with the dietary guidelines of the ADSA (Association of Dieticians of SA),” he said.

He conceded that he should maybe have used the words real food and not LCHF, but he said in his defence one was allowed limited characters in a tweet.

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Cape Times