By Marika Sboros
Low-carb books are not yet a dime a dozen but they are weighing down shelves in bookstores and in cyberspace. The Low-Carb Companion should fly off those shelves.
The author is reason enough to buy it. Zimbabwean Dr Austin Jeans is a specialist sport, exercise and lifestyle medicine physician in Harare.
He has been involved in lifestyle aspects of orthodox medicine for over 25 years. However, it took his own deteriorating health and family history of type 2 diabetes to drive him in new directions.
It set him on the journey of discovery that he documents in this book. Like many doctors, he swallowed whole the dogma on diet and disease that he learned at medical school. And when he came across compelling evidence to the contrary, he did the decent scientific thing. He admitted that he had it all wrong. If something about his story sounds familiar that’s because it is.
Back home in Zimbabwe, Jeans started his medical career in the military and emergency medicine. Thereafter, he did a postgraduate degree in sports medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
One of his lecturers at UCT was Zimbabwe-born South African scientist Prof Tim Noakes. Noakes has written the foreword to The Low-Carb Companion. It explains just what he and Jeans have in common.
“Austin wrote this book because, like me, he believes that the condition of carbohydrate intolerance is the missing link that no doctors are taught at medical school,” Noakes writes.
“Our personal experiences have taught us that carbohydrate intolerance cannot be cured by expensive life-long medications that do nothing more than ineffectively treat its symptoms.
“Rather, if we wish to reverse the current obesity/diabetes epidemic that is spreading, uncontrolled, across the globe, we have to understand that the root cause is a high-carbohydrate diet in those with carbohydrate intolerance.
“It really is that simple. No more, no less. Not rocket science.”
And there, in a nutshell, you have the power of The Low-Carb Companion.
One chapter starts with one of my favourite quotes by British economist Lord Keynes: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?“
It signals Jeans’ mission: to educate himself as a doctor first before dishing out dietary advice to his patients. He, therefore, writes from personal, scientific and purely practical perspectives on benefits of low-carb, higher-healthy-fat diets.
Jeans has been Zimbabwe’s Chief Medical Officer to four Olympic teams, three Africa Games teams, and National Cricket, Rugby, Judo and Hockey teams. He is a member of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission and sits on World Rugby’s Developing Nations Medical Subcommittee.
Click here to read: Why it’s ‘unethical for dietitians not to offer LCHF as option to clients
Jeans also consults to several National Sports Federations. He is currently medical director of the Rolf Valley Sports Medicine Centre, the Innovate High Performance Centre and the Low-Carb Companion Lifestyle Program. Jeans writes media articles and lectures on LCHF. He is also an active age-group athlete in triathlon, swimming and eco-adventure racing.
That gives him locus standi to make the case for a constant “companion” on the journey towards better health. One of the strengths of The Low-Carb Companion is the Knowledge Companion in Part One and the fact that robust science that beats at its heart. Jeans quotes one of his former professors of medicine: “The secret to knowledge is not necessarily having all the required information in one’s head, but knowing where to find it.”
Jeans helps the reader to find it with well-researched and well-documented references. He gives a detailed section explaining bodily biochemistry. He also looks at why anyone who is carb-intolerant should avoid carb foods. And he shows benefits of an LCHF lifestyle for those with insulin resistance, full-blown diabetes or other serious diseases.
He also takes an in-depth look at just what constitutes healthy fats and thoroughly eviscerates fat-phobia. Most importantly, Jeans makes it crystal clear why sugar and other carbs, not fat, in the diet cause heart disease.
Along the way, he makes a strong case for carb intolerance and insulin resistance as the metabolic basis of obesity
He also dispels many of the myths that many doctors and dietitians still peddle about nutrition. One is that you should be eating 5-a-day fruit and veg.
Click here to read: You need 5-a-day fruit and veg: No you don’t!
Jeans gives a table showing that of the 13 most important vitamins required for good health, the best sources of 11 animal rather than plant foods. He says that the same holds true for the required minerals.
And he looks at “special populations”. These include low-carb during pregnancy, for babies, children, teens and athletes. He also looks at nutrition and cancer.
Part Two of this book is the tasty “meat”. He styles it the Food Companion. It has a wide range of delicious low-carb recipes to support the new lifestyle. On the menu is just about anything you could want – soups, snacks, main meals, low-carb bread, desserts and even ice cream.
There’s not much for vegetarians as the book is premised on animal foods as the most nutrient-dense on the planet. However, there are some recipes that vegetarians can use or adapt.
In the foreword, Noakes has the highest praise. “What strikes me about his book is just how good and complete it is. (It) is as good an introduction to the LCHF lifestyle as has been published anywhere in the world.”
With this book, Austin introduces the LCHF eating plan to the heart of Africa and beyond, Noakes says. It is therefore a “key moment” in an important battle, Noakes says. That is to raise awareness of Africa to the damaging health consequences of high-carb diets for those with carbohydrate intolerance.
Samuel Richardson, the18th-century English writer and printer, said that “the companion of an evening and the companion for life require very different qualifications”. Thus, as one of the best investments you can make in your health, The Low Carb Companion qualifies as a companion for life.