fistBy Marika Sboros

UPDATE, October 16, 2017: Over 700 doctors and allied practitioners have now signed. 

This is big: nearly 200 doctors and allied health practitioners in Canada have signed an Open Letter to their government calling for urgent, radical reform of nutrition guidelines to include low-carb diets.

They say that authorities told Canadians to follow guidelines for nearly 40 years. During that time, nutrition-related diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, increased sharply. The doctors are also concerned about sharp increases in childhood obesity and diabetes rates.

They say that the evidence does not support conventional low-fat dietary advice. In fact, they say it worsens heart-disease risk factors. They say that those responsible must be free to compile dietary guidelines without food and drug industry influence. They want the guidelines to promote low-carb diets as “at least one safe, effective intervention” for people with obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

At heart, the letter’s signatories call for mainstream medical advice to include low-carb, healthy-natural-fat. Here’s more of these doctors’ powerful challenge to orthodoxy.

It’s a daring initiative given that some signatories have already faced ridicule and attack from establishment quarters for their views on low-carb. There are also salutary examples in other countries of doctors who dared to challenge dogma and go up against powerful vested interests. In this case, there’s probably safety in numbers.

The letter’s drivers are anesthesiologist Dr Carol Loffelmann and anatomical pathologist Dr Barbra Allen Bradshaw. They have addressed the letter to Health Canada, the Federal Health Minister, and all Provincial Health Ministers. Click here to read  the Open Letter.

In it, they knock the most enduring pillars on which official dietary advice rests. One pillar is the diet-heart hypothesis that saturated fat causes heart disease. Another is the CICO (calories-in, calories-out) theory of obesity. That’s the one that says obesity is the result of gluttony and sloth.

The letter includes a Points for Change “manifesto” that draws from the work of the US Nutrition Coalition (click here to read the Coalition’s work) and the UK Public Health Collaboration. Among these are that the guidelines should:

  • Clearly communicate to the public and health-care professionals that the evidence no longer supports the low-fat diet and that it can worsen heart-disease risk factors;
  • Eliminate caps on saturated fats and stop advising people to replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated vegetable oils to prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Favour “real” food, that is, whole, unprocessed foods that include full-fat dairy and regular red meat;
  • Recognise controversy on salt and avoid a blanket “lower is better” recommendation;
  • Not emphasise aerobic exercise as a weight-loss tool. In other words, language should not suggest that people can manage their weight sustainably just by creating a caloric deficit;
  • Involve a complete, comprehensive review of the most rigorous data available;
  • Promote low-carb diets as at least one safe and effective intervention for people struggling with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and
  • Offer “a true range of diets” that responds to the population’s diverse needs;

Interestingly, the letter advances Brazil as a good example. Loffelmann says that’s because Brazil’s dietary guide is “as close to perfect as we can expect to get”.



“Every corner of the world, every cuisine can adapt it,” she says. “It puts food and eating back into the centre of the guideline and requires no numbers, servings, or math.”

As well, eliminating modern processed foods is most important, she says, followed by eating “within your carb tolerance”.

Big Fat SurpriseLoffelmann and Bradshaw devised the letter after the Canadian Senate meeting and report into obesity in the country last year. Among those the Senate invited to give presentations were US investigative science journalist Nina Teicholz. Teicholz gave an hour-long presentation based on 10 years’ research for her groundbreaking book, The BIg Fat Surprise. Click here to listen to Teicholz’s testimony to the Senate that begins at1:03:40.

The Senate report made “some very sane recommendations about future food guidelines”, says Loffelmann.

“It excited us,” says Bradshaw, “because they were proposing the very things that will turn the health of Canada around.”

Among the report’s conclusions: “Canada’s dated food guide is no longer effective in providing nutritional guidance to Canadians.”  By way of example, the report said that authorities often present fruit juice as healthy but it is “little more than a soft drink without the bubbles”.

That prompted Loffelmann and Bradshaw to organise a social community that started small – with just three members – but has grown quickly beyond their expectations.

The community now consists of approximately 1600 physicians and allied health professionals. These are people across Canada who are eating real food or low-carb or learning about it. As a result, many are now teaching whole-food, low-carb ways of eating to their families, friends and patients.

Success stories have been extraordinary: Family members and colleagues have overcome type 2 diabetes and obesity complications with simple dietary changes. Better still, they have done so without feeling hungry all the time.

The stories “touched us deeply”, says Bradshaw. “We realised that we have built a strong powerful community that wishes to impact change at a greater level.”



The aim of the letter is simple, say Loffelmann and Bradshaw: the guidelines must change to change the health of Canadians.

Another signatory is diagnostic and non-vascular interventional radiologist Dr Vajid Khan, who works at Bluewater Health and is an adjunct professor at Western University.

He says that many physicians are aware of the need for change. “They know that prevention really is the best form of medicine,” Khan says. They also know that prevention of disease is the only way to avoid the impending collapse of Canada’s healthcare system and related economic deterioration.

Click here to read: YOU NEED 5-A-DAY FRUIT AND VEG? NO YOU DON’T! 


“Unless we do something about it collectively, our loved ones, our patients and ourselves will continue to suffer disease and diminishing health quality,” Khan says. “They will also die prematurely of countless afflictions brought about by harmful or inadequate nutrition.”

The letter’s recommendations are brief and easy to understand, he says. It also gives the scientific evidence to back up recommendations.

“If you are looking to make a positive change in your health, this is an excellent place to start,” Khan says. “Start today.”

Jason Fung

In a best-case scenario, Loffelmann and Bradshaw hope that those responsible for Canada’s next dietary guidelines will read the  letter carefully; that they will take to heart the real crisis facing the nation: escalating health care costs and population suffering; and that they will accept that these crises are in large part due to the guidelines as they are currently written.

“They hopefully will agree that this is the time for drastic action,” says Bradshaw.

Loffelmann says: “I hope everyone reads them and takes them to heart.”

Both hope that the letter will be “a stepping stone to changing the face of medical education in Canada”. They hope that the curriculum will focus on prevention, not just treatment, of chronic dietary diseases. Practicing physicians also need education in dietary treatment of diseases as it is poorly lacking in the current system.

Loffelmann hopes that everyone will read Canadian nephrologist Dr Jason Fung’s book The Obesity Code. In particular, she hopes that it will become required reading for medical students.

Along with their hopes, Bradshaw and Loffelmann have not-so-secret fears. In a worst-case scenario, they say it’s possible the letter could vanish into the medical establishment’s ether. Consequently, those in positions of power and influence could simply ignore it.  Sufficient numbers in the medical community could block the point of change, perhaps enough to maintain the status quo.

There is always the possibility that low-fat, high-carb guidelines could remain the dominant paradigm. Bradshaw says that this will result in continued exposure to sugar, highly processed and refined food “and an even sicker population”. Loffelmann says that they have turned many skeptics around. However, they still face “a large bureaucracy that the old, failed paradigm still governs”.

Cognitive dissonance among doctors is another obstacle. That’s the psychological term for the extreme discomfort that happens when someone has to face compelling evidence that contradicts a deeply held belief. As a consequence, the belief usually wins over the evidence.

“We must get it right this time around,” say Bradshaw and Loffelmann,” because if we don’t, it will cause unnecessary suffering and death.”



  1. I have done a green diet from Dr Cousens raw foods and it worked in reversing my type 2 diabetes, but it lacked in the basic science, Vitamin B12 and complete protein. The green diet also had the high starches in root vegetables. I have been diabetic for over 20 years and I recently was placed on insulin once a day 75 units. I couldn’t give in to this disease so I continued to do research until I came across Dr Jason Fung. I watched all his info via Youtube and the minute I finished, I knew he was right. I stopped taking the insulin and began to fast immediately. I’m four months into it, and wow! The results speak for themselves.

    I am 59 and I have posted pictures of what my body looks like now to friends. All my markers are in normal range all without meds of any sort. This diet of low-carbs and high-fats is very easy to follow and helps in accelerating the reversal of my diabetes without any cravings. My energy has come back to where I can go to the gym and do physical chores without depletion of energy.

    I’m also doing this with my wife, who was overweight and has lost over 80 pounds in the last two years, and 30 of those from these last four months. She has controlled her fibromyalgia, IBS and migraines. I have done what most doctors recommend to control type 2 diabetes but it was not possible to keep up as I grew older. The right answer here is a combination of greens minus starchy foods and animal proteins with fats. There are healthier choices of fats if you don’t think the animal fats are good. You can have fish fats, avocados, coconut oil and organic butter. They are all good. So if you really want to push a green diet, it can be done but it’s not complete without the fats and proteins with B12.

    • Well done you!

      From your name I feared you might be another of the Vegan Attack Horde. Obviously not! Yes the numbers of people improving their health by eating the exact opposite of what they were told are now legion. People ARE starting to notice.

  2. This must be a joke.

    In the letter itself ( half the examples of sources of fats & proteins are from animals, showing that many Canadians associate a low-fat diet with a meat-based diet. But then you have the audacity to conclude the article with this:

    “We must get it right this time around,” say Bradshaw and Loffelmann, ”because if we don’t, it will cause unnecessary suffering and death.”

    Promoting a diet based on eating dead animals will help to reduce unnecessary suffering and death? Is this for real?

    Don’t get me wrong – we absolutely should stop promoting the high-carb/low-fat diet. However, the main point should be to tell people to eat whole foods: fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I’m all for that! Any diet focusing on whole foods will lead to an improvement of the population’s general well being. But if in your definition of “whole foods” you include whole-fat dairy products and meat, oh please don’t say that it’s going to reduce unnecessary suffering and death. That’s some real cognitive dissonance right there.

    • “Promoting a diet based on eating dead animals”. Do you think we should eat live ones? Only half joking. I call myself a meat-eating vegetarian. The animals I eat have a good life followed by a good death, more than nature often provides. Sometimes, I wonder about the vegetables, though. How do you think they like being sprayed with toxins to slaughter the innocent hordes of aphids and other pests?

      Once, I ate an Ornish-style high-carb, low-fat, grain-based vegan diet. It made me ill. It wrecked my blood glucose, I passed my first gallstone and had my first attack of gout. Sorry, not doing that again.

  3. I did not sign your petition. I agree with all its content except item #12:
    “12.Include a cap on added sugar, in accordance with the updated WHO guidelines, ideally
    no greater than 5% of total calories”

    The distinction between added sugar and natural carbs is irrational and non-scientific. Fruit juices are sugar-rich drinks. A plate of pasta is a carb-rich meal. Carb is carb is carb.

  4. I invite all interested parties to join the facebook group: Healthy School Food Advocacy Group. The page is administered by PPULS Inc. a non-profit aiming to establish universal school-based lunch programming. All foodies welcome!!

  5. Ridiculous! Low-carb, high-fat and animal protein. Animal protein causes cancer. Science over advertising. Who paid for this article? Dairy Canada, Meat Producers of Canada or the egg board? Or all three! Sorry, but we’ve got a lot more signatures, letters and surveys filled out advocating for whole-food plant-based nutrition. 2017 is the year for WFPB and the truth.

    • Okay, Dan, lots of signatures from your friends but any evidence that doesn’t involve mice fed sugar-laden junk with a bit of added meat. Are any of these doctors really linked to vested interests? It is very dificult to see what these people have to gain by crossing the big food producers that you support. Is everyone who disagrees with you dishonest?

      Clearly you believe that eating glucose is good for us? Things have gone so well since we adopted that diet, haven’t they? Only a 10-fold rise in obesity and a nine-fold rise in diabetes.

      Why do three-quarters of vegetarians give up for health reasons? Where were cancer and diabetes in, say, the 1960s when we ate much more meat and less carbohydrate?

      • Stephen have you ever raised an animal that you’re going to consume? Do you know how most of our meat is raised? If you do, are you ok with eating that sort of meat? Does it make sense to eat foods that require so much energy?

        I’m all for a veg-centric diet based around whole foods, however, I question whether we should be promoting an animal protein heavy diet. I think everyone could be satisfied with we gave the Michael Pollan approach: eat, not too much, mostly plants.

        • The most consistent change reported by people who change to a low-carb diet is eating more vegetables. However, I don’t believe humans evolved eating grass (wheat and grains) and my health has improved significantly since I eliminated them.

          I can meet you half way because I do care how meat and fish are produced. The meat I eat has come from animals that spend their lives wondering around open fields in the countryside eating grass on land that would otherwise be useless. My butcher lists the farms the animals come from on his notice board, which is common practice.

          I support improved standards of production but not propaganda. Vegetarians should be consistent and care a little more about how crops are produced. Do you know how many animals are killed in mono-culture crop production? There are LCHF vegetarians who have realised that eating “mostly plants” often means “mostly gluclose”. I try to spend my money encouraging higher standards, but I’m not eating grass, grains or other rubbish that is unhealthy and ethically questionable.

          • The farmer’s wife was driving the combine in a field of rape. She rang in to say the machine was malfunctioning and she couldn’t readjust it. Farmer went out to take a look (you do NOT inspect the workings of farm machines without a second person being present!) They found the entire inside of the machine was gummed up with the squished bodies of millions of slugs and snails and had to take it back to the yard and steam clean it.

            They died to bring you your “heart healthy” veg(etari)an margarine.

  6. Having just watched Nina’s evidence at to the Canadian Senate it certainly indicates the challenges but also clear some members had read her book, were listening and supportive. I encourage any who can make the time to watch.

    Thank you Marika for your amazing reporting and insight on this battle between truth and science vs big food and big pharma.

    When discussing the resources issue how much less do we consume per day when eating nutrient dense animal source foods vs
    – vegetable based foods and ensuring we also consume sufficient complete proteins?
    – consuming processed fake foods that provide limited nutrients and drive appetite?

    Nina mentioned that cattle can graze where crops cannot be produced – one can add goats and sheep to that list. Alan Savory provides another explanation of just how important grazing animals are to preventing desetification of land:

    • You can also add things like pheasants and partridges, grouse and deer which graze the field margins if farmers leave them unsown or sown with seed crops which also helps the wildlife. This gives the farmers a second crop which does not require 400hp tractors or 600hp combines or constant spraying with various pesticides, and people something healthy and nutritious to eat to counteract the nutritionally bankrupt grains and margarine grown in the main part of the field. Many of the best farmers around here rely on animal dung to fertilise the fields – and also human dung sufficiently processed, and even composted kitchen/garden waste instead of expensive synthetic fertilisers. The Wheel Of Life requires animals and plants and permits cropping at numerous levels. Jeol Salatin (Polyface Farm) is another who comprehends the Big Picture.

  7. I certainly hope they are successful in changing the current dietary guidelines that are keeping our nation sick.if more people used their diet to gain health benifits they would have much less need for prescription drugs.having medical students that are required to read the obesity code would be a good start to change the attitude of new doctors regarding’s time we used our brains and not be taken in by the bs of advertising.

  8. I certainly agree that it is no bad thing to get the dietary advice that governments give correct, and so I certainly approve of the letter and its tenets. However I wonder really how much of the epidemic is down to poor government advice, and how much to the over-availability of food in general, and the wrong-sort-of-food in particular. Are those overweight people we see waddling down our pavements really that way because they have assiduously followed incorrect government guidelines? I think not! So, an acceptance of these guidelines is a very good first step. But how the heck you persuade the masses, who wouldn’t know a dietary guideline if it came up and bit them on the bottom, to stop overeating, start fasting and generally get themselves healthy remains a very difficult question!

    • The shake-the-finger condescending approach has never worked too well either. Insulin spikes then drops to trigger hunger. Making fat the villain when sugary/ high carb foods trigger the insulin response is the problem. People are better off with the extra bun-free burger than with the supersize Coke or apple pie. And many people don’t know that because guidelines equate red meat with calorie-equivalent sugary snacks or desserts.

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