Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Taking Care to Present Quality Information

I've not written here for 14 days. As mentioned in the previous post the Noakes Foundation released many more videos in late January and the beginning of February. I've take the time to view it all, more than 11 hours. I have written 64 pages of notes, and taken 454 screen shots of data being presented at the trial. Enough material to write an interesting blog every day for more than a year. That's not my intention.

I do intend to present the most useful and practical knowledge revealed by the "trial." I'll try to make it understandable and I'll link it to other sources, as we go.

The big picture

Dr Timothy Noakes, is accused by the Health Professions Council of South Africa, of two offenses. Of giving professional advice on social media. And of giving advice that is not supported by evidence based standards, and is therefore unprofessional. Dr Noakes' professional reputation is being attacked.

In fact the trial is about other things entirely. Which other things is not clear, because the powers driving this court case are not named and are not present in court. Dr Noakes tries several times during his evidence to identify the source of the court action. At the end of his professional career, several things happened. Firstly, Noakes himself was diagnosed as type two diabetic. That was a wake up call, it led him to examine closely his own medical understanding (he had believed that his marathon running would protect him) and to consult with his professional colleagues. Eventually that led him to completely change his own diet. That was made public in an interview online, in February 2012. (Listen from 27.30 to about 40min.)

Noakes Trial
The Public Gallery at the Trial of Dr Tim Noakes.

Dr Noakes writes about his own diabetes and personal experiment with a low carbohydrate diet in his book "Challenging Beliefs: Memoirs of a Career" which was written but not yet published. (March 2012) In that book he accuses the food industry of manipulating science and creating public environment full of "health messages" that are both untrue and unhealthy. The tobacco industry did this, and the industrial food giants today, continue the practice.

In November 2013, "The Real Meal Revolution" was published (Only in South Africa). The book was highly successful, with 160,000 copies being sold in the first 6 months. There was wide public interest in the Banting Diet, apparently much to the displeasure of Stellenbosch University, The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Global Health, Division of Human Nutrition, which is "Striving to be innovative and transformative leaders excelling in Nutrition." They see themselves as the leading nutritional authority in South Africa, aligning themselves with Harvard in the USA, Cambridge in the UK, or Otago in New Zealand. These "elite" universities align themselves with the "gold standard" in nutrition, the USA's Dietary Guidelines, supported by Harvard.

These institutions don't take kindly to being told that their "gold standard" healthy diet is tarnished. Therefore it's not gold at all, but some fake, an imitation of what the human diet should be. That sort of talk will not be tolerated. Too many people in high places are affected. Too much money is at stake. The reputation of established institutions is essential to their funding and survival.

In addition, heart specialists in South Africa have taken exception to Dr Noakes questioning the Heart Diet Hypothesis, and concluding that it's nonsense. Besides he believes that the focus on cholesterol has been unhelpful, and that statins are vastly over prescribed.

Finally, Dr Noakes has claimed that the symptoms of type two diabetes can be reversed by simple low carbohydrate dietary practice. Diabetes is a very important and growing public health problem, and by conventional treatment is both progressive and incurable. The Noakes view that insulin use is the cause of worse diabetes and not the best treatment for diabetics, ruffles a lot of feathers. Noakes has never claimed that the diet "cures" type two diabetes, although it's possible that "no symptoms" and "cured" are the same thing.

So that's one side of what's happening in the trial. There are many possible reason why various health professionals in South Africa, are unhappy with Dr Noakes, and would like to see his views discredited. I will write some more tomorrow.

John Stephen Veitch                     Printable Version Printer of this Essay
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