Even though the Banting or LCHF diet is in the spotlight due to the “trial” of Tim Noakes for advice given by him about the feeding of an infant, this is definitely not at the forefront of dietary research. I have only recently become aware of this research last week on the BBC Science Program on BBC Earth hosted by Dara ‘o Briain where scientists at the cutting edge of research are invited to discuss the latest breakthroughs in various fields. This interview dealt with the effects of our gut bacteria, one of which related to dieting. As if to endorse these findings, this week’s online edition on Time Magazine covers the same topic. [Note: The printed version did not carry this story as the two editions carry different articles]
Main picture: Is this still on your menu?
Maybe it’s a “female thing”, but I can positively confirm that none of my male friends would ever count calories whilst on diet. Partly this female fixation with calorie counting is a consequence of their doing the Weight Watchers diet whereas males would rather adopt a less stringent “wing it” approach. Normally that is the well-known Starvation Method. Which approach is preferable or is it neither?
Imagine measuring and weighing every morsel of food that passes one’s lips. I could not imagine Nigella Lawson measuring anything as she takes cooking to the other extreme: a dab of this, a glob of that. No two meals can possibly be the same.
Main picture: Why are the verboten foods so tempting while the good foods are so bland
The Metabolic Model of Cancer has recently been resurrected after lying dormant for slightly less than a century. This 1924 model is predicated upon the work of a physiologist, medical doctor and Nobel Laureate by the name of Otto Warburg who espoused the eponymous Warburg Effect. What has re-ignited interest in this theory is that contemporaneously with the rise in sugar/carbohydrate consumption since the 1970s, the rate of cancers has increased in tandem. Unknown in traditional and primitive societies such as the Inuits some 100 years ago, with the change in their diet to a western style diet, cancer has become one of the leading causes of death in these societies. In the light of this correlation, does the Metabolic Model of Cancer deserve another investigation?
The rate at which the prevalence of cancer is affecting society – already one in every two men and one in every three women will suffer from it. With the current rate of increase being 3%, shortly almost everybody will be afflicted.
Main picture: Dr Otto Warburg, the Nobel Laureate who discovered aerobic glycolysis
For some apparently unfathomable reason, in the Western world since the 1970s the average BMI of the population has spiralled upwards while simultaneously the level of dieting, consumption of diet food and amount of exercise performed, whether in the form of gyming or running, has skyrocketed. How is this possible? Was this sheer co-incidence or happenstance or are there, within the current dieting regime, prospective candidates as the culprit.
The current suspect is sugar. Like a rabbit trapped in a car’s headlights its apologists and defenders such as the sugar water industry – read Coke – are supine but not immobile. With sugar taxes looming after New York City’s courageous imposition of this punitive measure recently, their muted rational response is quite credible.
Main picture: Will sugar take the mantle as the new tobacco over the next decade or is it being unfairly cast as the villain in the piece?
To use an overused word, human life is priceless but on the obverse side, there is the small matter of cost. Simply put: With the whole slew of new & innovative medical treatments and medicines coming onto the market where does one draw the line in providing all these potentially life-saving treatments?
Lest anyone is under the misapprehension that this conundrum is not pervasive today let us consider the dilemmas that doctors and medical aid schemes face today when confronted by such quandaries.
Amongst the most promising lines of research currently generating all the hype relates to stem cells. Stem cell research and therapies are undoubtedly at the cutting edge of science, with regular breakthroughs being announced in the field but the subject provokes fear and anticipation in equal measure. Whilst in the long term, this line of research will result in spectacular progress, what can we expect in the short term which will have an equally profound impact?
Alzheimer’s or similar senile dementias
The one area which is, in my opinion, not receiving sufficient funding – I have no bias in this viewpoint – is that relating to dementia especially those experienced in one’s dotage such as Alzheimer’s.
Main picture: Olive oil – does it prevent heart disease?
Change to deeply ingrained ideas is never like a switch. It meanders through the societal consciousness igniting controversy at it proceeds and gathers momentum. The Banting or LCHF diet is no different. From the mid-1970s when the eminent Dr Ancel Keyes convinced the US Department of Health that fats were injurious to one’s health, as fat correlated with cholesterol, the received wisdom has been that fats except in extreme moderation were to be avoided. Now scientific evidence is inexorably negating this flawed thinking.
The case of the elusive cure for ulcers is illustrative of all the prevailing forces that hobble the forces of change: these are the existing dogma, entrenched industries and supposed scientific evidence buttressing the existing ingrained ideas. This requires the abandonment of a set of well entrenched beliefs that conflict with the new ideas.
Main picture: The British Medical Journal now condones the consumption of fatty food except that the sales assistant must be sternly informed to hold the chips and the bun but to put a few dollops of cream on it.
With the eminent Professor Tim Noakes facing the wrath of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for advocating the LCHF diet for all people, this issue has again been dragged into the public domain. What particularly irked the Professional Board for Dietetics and Nutrition in South Africa was his assertion that his diet was suitable for infants. What is the significance of this decision and what are the long-term implications of general adoption of this diet?
A Personal Odyssey
Of the few struggles in my life which I have lost convincingly, by a knockout and not on points, has been my weight. At periodic intervals I would yet again attempt to lose 8 to 10kgs. After six months of excruciating hunger, lassitude and enervation, I would have attained my desired weight level only to regain it within one month thereafter as I resumed my normal eating habits.
Last weeks’ Time Magazine has a series of articles on how science can retard the rate of aging and possibly even halt it completely. Of more significance to me – which was unstated – was what would the social & societal consequences of such a process be? Does this even bode well for humankind in terms of the quality of those additional years? For instance would one then be senile for fifty years instead of ten?
Main picture: I bet that Bridgette Bardot has many regrets about her life but probably her main misgiving was about getting old and more importantly, looking decrepit. Continue reading
Like all generalisations, the exceptions disprove the rule. In this case does smoking, snorting cocaine or injecting heroin in moderation apply? Certainly not. It probably applies with eating and drinking but what about exercise? Is strenuous exercise good for one’s health?
This maxim is often bandied about as a justification for behaviour that is clearly suspect or injurious to one’s health. Yet those protagonists of its use would never use this saying in other contexts where they disbelieve its veracity.