Dietitians: health hazards or mainstream LCHF healers in 2020?

Picture: Stuart Dawes

By Marika Sboros

Will 2020 be the year that low-carb finally goes medical mainstream to treat and prevent a wide range of life-threatening diseases? Will dietitians be the main movers and shakers who achieve that magic by dispensing cutting-edge, 21st Century, evidence-based dietary advice?

Is 2020 the year they become healers who use food as medicine?  Or will many of them just carry on dishing up unscientific, industry-led dietary dogma that researchers say makes them dinosaurs – and a public-health hazard?

The signs are auspicious for positive change. One sign is the recent launch of the Cape-based Nutrition Network’s world-first, internationally curated, low-carb, high-healthy-fat (LCHF) online training course for dietitians and Certified Nutrition Specialists (CNS).



Harcombe v Harvard: top holiday health, weightloss tips

By Marika Sboros

For many people, end-of-year holiday season is a time of excess, indulgence and expanding waistlines and waste. Not forgetting unscientific tips on how best to keep all those in check.

Fortunately for many, it is also a time of mindful, healthy eating and top tips based on robust scientific evidence. Which side of the weighty fence you’ll be on this holiday season depends on your favourite sources of diet and nutrition advice.

Take, for example, top tips from Harvard researchers in the US on one hand and British public health researcher Dr Zoë Harcombe on the other.

Scientific chalk and cheese doesn’t even begin to describe their different approaches.



Cholesterol fears, fake news and the age game: who plays?

By Marika Sboros

Many people have asked Scottish GP Malcolm Kendrick to comment on a controversial new study about cholesterol that is making headlines around the world.

Or rather, as Kendrick says, making the wrong headlines.

He has written a blog that isn’t so much a commentary on the study as an evisceration of it.  For robust scientific reason.

The authors of the study, published in the Lancet journal, say that doctors should start checking cholesterol levels in people in their mid-20s. And if certain levels are high, get them to make dietary changes and take drugs to lower their cholesterol.

In other words, they push for more use of statins from age 25 upwards.



REAL FOOD ON TRIAL: SIT BACK, HEAR THE FULL STORY!

By Marika Sboros

Real Food On Trial is now available on audio from US-based Tantor Media. The sub-title speaks volumes: How The Diet Dictators Tried To Destroy A Distinguished Scientist

I’m the book’s co-author with South African scientist Prof Tim Noakes. Real Food On Trial (Columbus 2018) is an update of the original, Lore Of Nutrition, Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs (Penguin 2017) with new content.

That  includes the resolution of a remarkable journey: One man’s victory over powerful, entrenched, vested interests in medical and dietetic establishments and food and drug industries.

It is the multi-million trial and academic mobbing in South Africa of Noakes, a University of Cape Town (UCT) emeritus professor and medical doctor.



ISRAEL WAKES UP TO LOW-CARB AND KETO!

By Marika Sboros

Dr Mariela Glandt is the brains behind Israel’s first keto, low-carb, high-healthy-fat (LCHF) conference. The event draws leading LCHF and nutrition experts from around the world.

It takes place at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv on November 7 and 8, 2019. There’s still time to book a place.

Glandt hopes it will bring LCHF and keto into the medical mainstream. She is founder and director of the Glandt Center for Diabetes Care in Tel Aviv. The clinic specializes in optimization of diabetes care through very low-carb (ketogenic) diets.

Glandt trained as an internist at Harvard and an endocrinologist at Columbia University. She has more than two decades of experience in treating diabetes. And the many related conditions that significantly increase the risk of life-threatening diseases.



Ketosis for kids: is mother’s milk really a danger?

By Marika Sboros

Mention the “k” word (ketosis) for kids and many, if not most, paediatricians and paediatric dietitians recoil.

Ketogenic diets are very low in carbs and very high in healthy fats (VLCHF). The very idea of putting kids on keto diets scares paediatricians and dietitians.  Especially for infants.

It’s as if paediatricians and dietitians consider it close child abuse, not far from infanticide. They pass on those fears to parents.

Yet babies are born in ketosis and mother’s milk is very high-fat – and low-carb, relatively. This keeps newborns in ketosis all through nursing, says US neuroscientist Dr Angela Stanton.



Nutritional psychiatry: the future of mental health treatment?

By Marika Sboros

Nutritional psychiatry is an idea whose time has come. That raises a question: What took the medical profession so long to embrace it?

Among global leaders of nutritional psychiatry is US psychiatrist Dr Georgia Ede. In a recent article in Psychology Today, Ede explores optimum nutrition for mental health. She looks at why we humans can’t thrive on plants alone and why our brains must have animal fats for optimum functioning.

Dietary fat is not just for insulation and energy storage, Ede writes. It’s also for “nutrient absorption, cell signalling, immune function, and many other critical processes”.



ACADEMIC MOBBING AT UCT: SHOCKING, NEVERENDING STORY?

By Marika Sboros

Academic bullying or mobbing as it has become known is an ugly phenomenon. It’s a scourge, endemic in even the best universities in countries across the globe.

South Africa is no exception, as the extent of academic mobbing at the University of Cape Town (UCT) reveals.

A series of articles in the Cape Doctor magazine covers two egregious examples of academic mobbing at UCT. (Scroll down for a link to the online version.)

In a scorching editorial, editor Dr John Steer hits out at UCT for what many see as an entrenched culture of mobbing.



Heikkilä: Finland’s Noakes, Fettke, Baker, Dahlqvist or Bourdua-Roy?

By Marika Sboros

Is it most correct to call Dr Antti Heikkilä Finland’s Tim Noakes, Gary Fettke, Shawn Baker, Annika Dahlqvist or Èvelyne Bourdua-Roy?

You’d be most correct to say he’s a mix of all five medical doctors from around the globe. Or even a precursor of most of them.

He has much in common with Noakes in South Africa, Fettke in Australia, Baker in the US, Dahlqvist in Sweden and Bourdua-Roy in Canada. Like them all, Heikkilä has incurred establishment wrath. And for the same “crime”:  for daring to challenge medical and dietary orthodoxy for obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses.



Vaccines – Kendrick on benefit, risk and moral hazard

By Marika Sboros

Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick wades once more into the murky, stormy waters of vaccines. He targets the drug industry, medical profession and researchers that enthusiastically promote vaccines – without robust evidence on safety.

He opens with a quote from John Locke’s A letter concerning Toleration: “No man can be forced to be healthful, whether he will or not. In a free society, individuals must judge for themselves what information they choose to heed and what they ignore.” 

That sets the tone for a topic not liberally endowed with free-speech options.

This is Kendrick’s second blog on vaccination and he thought just as long and hard about the first as this one. He says that vaccination is the most brutal area for discussion that he has ever seen. He calls it a “reputation shredder”.



Vaccination: Kendrick dares to inject challenge to dogma

By Marika Sboros

Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick is a brave man. He dares not just to write about the great vaccination debate but to be even braver. Or foolhardy, depending on your point of view.

He dares to look at the official history of vaccination with a jaundiced eye. He questions the medical profession’s “unquestioned faith in vaccination”.

Before you read further, Kendrick, like many MDs who share his views, is no “anti-vaxxer”. (Neither am I – my most devoted, relentless MD Twitter troll notwithstanding – but that’s for another time.)

Vaccination remains one of the ugliest, most controversial and illogical of medico-scientific debate. Enter on the supposedly “wrong side” and you will get many (most?) MDs’ knickers in self-righteous knots.



Noakes celebrates anniversary: victory over diet mobsters

Prof Tim Noakes receives a  standing ovation in London in 2018, with Dr Aseem Malhotra (centre) and Dr Peter Brukner (right)

By Marika Sboros

Prof Tim Noakes celebrated a remarkable anniversary recently. It was June 8, 2018, a year since he became a free man, legally speaking.

On that day, the legal sword of Damocles that the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) had dangled over his head for more than four years, disappeared.

Given its behaviour so far, the HPCSA did what many thought it wouldn’t do on that day. It dismissed its prosecution lawyers’ appeal against its comprehensive not-guilty verdict for Noakes in April 2017.

The HPCSA’s own appeal committee confirmed the not-guilty ruling in its entirety. It found Noakes not guilty on all 10 aspects of a charge of unprofessional conduct. Click here to read a report and the full decision. That decision reverberates to this day through medical, dietetic and scientific fraternities globally.

Noakes and I have included a chapter on the appeal in our new book, Real Food On Trial. The subtitle says it all: How the diet dictators tried to destroy a top scientist (Columbus, 2019). It’s an update of Lore of Nutrition, Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs (Penguin 2017).



Shawn Baker: heavyweight medicine man in praise of meat

BakerVITAL SIGNS

By Marika Sboros

US physician and orthopaedic surgeon Dr Shawn Baker once dreamt of owning a cheesecake factory. He also dreamt of being able to eat all the cheese and sweets he wanted.

He has come a long way since his birth in Hof, a small West German town on the Czech border to an American father in the US Air Force and a South African mother. Ironically, given Baker’s vigorously anti-sugar stance these days, his mother hailed from a family with links to Hullett’s. The company remains dominant in South Africa’s powerful sugar industry.

In a Q&A Vital Signs profile, Baker tells how he conquered his chronically sweet tooth on his medical journey. He also tells how fought off establishment attacks after he advised his obese, diabetic patients to change their diets – and eat more meat – to reduce the needs for drugs and invasive surgery.



Facebook: real reason for take-down of top low-carb group?

By Marika Sboros

What’s really behind Facebook’s deletion of one of its biggest low-carb groups, the Banting 7 Day Meal Plans? The social media titan’s responses leave more questions than answers.

Did interests opposed to low-carb therapies sabotage the group? Did Facebook assist that agenda without checking for conflicts of interest?

Facebook claims that a “user” hacked and deleted the group. That made the deletion “voluntary” from within, it says. If so, what does that mean for the personal data of the group’s more than 1,6million users?

There are 1.1 million South African “Banters” – as supporters of low-carb, high-healthy-fat (LCHF) therapies are known in that country. The rest are scattered across the planet. Could the hack have compromised their data? Could the user have hacked Facebook as well?

Facebook has gone to great lengths to suggest otherwise. It reinstated the group on May 17 but not before its sudden removal on May 14 went viral. That precipitated a tsunami of protest from users and supporters around the world on Facebook and Twitter.



Why won’t UCT just say sorry to Noakes for academic ‘mobbing’?

UPDATED with UCT response received after publication today. Scroll down below.

By Marika Sboros

Extensive, uncontested evidence on public record shows that staff of the University of Cape Town and its Faculty of Health Science participated in what many see as the academic bullying of Prof Tim Noakes.

Will UCT and the Faculty ever apologise for that academic bullying – or “mobbing” as it is now popularly known? The signs are not auspicious, says Noakes.

Academic mobbing is a global phenomenon. In South Africa, the uncontested evidence suggests that it’s a scourge. It has affected not just UCT but also other top universities: Stellenbosch, North-West (formerly Potchefstroom) and my alma mater, the University of the Witwatersrand.

Don’t mistake academic mobbing for academic politics.



Statins: attacks on doctors reveal ‘smoking guns’ on side effects?

UPDATED 17/03 WITH COMMENT AND BACKGROUND

By Marika Sboros

Is there really “a special place in hell for doctors who claim statins don’t work“? The UK Mail on Sunday health editor Barney Calman believes so. Or at least, that’s the headline to his opinion piece the newspaper published in March.

Calman also believes that some eminent medical doctors and researchers are “statin deniers” who peddle “deadly propaganda”. They are “putting patients at risk”, he writes.

Prof Sherif Sultan, president of the International Vascular Institute, vigorously disagrees. Sultan is also professor of vascular and endovascular surgery at the National University of Ireland Galway. Sultan joins other experts who see “smoking guns”  in media attacks on statin critics. They see these attacks as industry and medical establishment attempts to downplay growing evidence on seriousness of statins side effects.

He has said that Calman’s articles are defamatory and propaganda – and the Mail on Sunday acted “negligently” in publishing them. Sultan has called for an investigation into publication of the articles.

“Calman must declare his conflict of interest and publish who instructed him to write such unscientific articles and after what editorial meeting,” Sultan has written.

 



Fasting: quick ways to get rid of unwanted side effects

By Marika Sboros

Fasting really is as old as the hills of ancient Greece. It’s a bedrock that sages created for ancient traditional healing systems across the globe. Those sages intuitively saw fasting as a natural way to boost and protect health.

Yet many doctors and dietitians dismiss fasting as “dangerous”. They call it “trendy” and a “fad”, even in its “intermittent fasting” (IF) incarnation. Fortunately, growing numbers of doctors and dietitians disagree. Even formerly diehard foes of fasting now see it in a new and positive light. But even staunch supporters of fasting don’t promote it as a panacea for all ills. They also acknowledge that fasts may cause unwanted, short-term side effects.

Canadian clinical nutrition researcher Megan Ramos says it’s easy enough to resolve these side effects.

Ramos is a specialist in therapeutic fasting and co-founder of the Intensive Dietary Management (IDM) program with nephrologist Dr Jason Fung. Fung is author of, among others, The Complete Guide to Fasting. Ramos has worked alongside Fung since 2003. She helped to co-found IDM in 2012 after doctors diagnosed her with type 2 diabetes. She was the program’s first guinea pig.



Malhotra takes aim at heart of media statin support

By Marika Sboros

The Guardian newspaper in the UK has been haemorrhaging readers for years.

The newspaper’s recent uncritical support for medical orthodoxy and dogma around diet, nutrition, drugs and cardiovascular disease hasn’t helped. Its treatment of ongoing controversy around cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins is raising red ethical flags.

Britain’s leading cardiologists, Dr Aseem Malhotra, is demanding that The Guardian retract its online article by health editor Sarah Boseley. Under the headline Butter nonsense: rise of the cholesterol deniers, it aims right at the heart of Malhotra’s credibility and professional integrity.

Malhotra has lodged a written complaint with The Guardian’s editor in chief, Katharine Viner. He has included the UK’s Independent Press Standards Organisation’s Board and Complaints Committee.



PCRM: FLAGGING VEGANISM, JUNK SCIENCE, ANIMAL RIGHTS?

By Marika Sboros

They call themselves the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Critics say they should call themselves the Physicians Committee for Irresponsible Medicine (PCIM).

They say that the PCRM’s latest study with Czech scientists, published in the journal, Nutrients, is irresponsible. And misleading.

The authors conclude that plant-based, vegan meals may be a “more effective tool” to prevent type 2 diabetes (T2D) than meat-based meals. They say that they’ve used a “randomized crossover design”. And that they’ve compared effects of two different meals on gastrointestinal hormones, and satiety (feeling of fullness) on healthy, obese and diabetic men.

The meals: a processed-meat and cheese meal and a vegan meal with tofu.

US psychiatrist Dr Georgia Ede calls the study misleading. Whoever designed it “has some explaining to do”, she says. US physician Dr Tro Kalayjian is more forthright and calls it “biased bullshit”.



Exercise: you’re never too busy for its magic!

44th US President Barack Obama gets incidental exercise with his dog, Bo.

By Marika Sboros

I’m a big fan of exercise – as we all should be. It makes, or should make, intuitive sense that exercise is good for overall health. Exercise builds endurance and keeps you supple and strong as you age

It also makes, or should make, sense that exercise is not the best weight loss tool. Despite what many MDs and dietitians still say.

They want you to believe that obesity the result of gluttony and sloth. That all you have to do to lose weight is eat less and move more.  That’s just food and drug industry propaganda.

It is not possible to outrun or outexercise bad diet.

And like many of us, you might think you are too busy to exercise. You’ve got that wrong. It’s dead easy to fit regular, incidental exercise. Take a leaf out of 44th US president Barack Obama’s lifestyle book, for starters.