Monday, 21 July 2014

LCHF Diets - Who do you trust?

In the pub the other evening I was struck by an interesting dilemma.

A good friend of mine who has worked in the NHS all of his life contested the value of the LCHF diet that I have been advocating for all of the last 6 months.

He is convinced that the knowledge of the dieticians that advise him at work is stronger than my flimsy base of knowledge supporting low carbohydrate diets as a cure for obesity or diabetes.

He quoted the years of research behind their advice; and he referred to their dedication and career-long commitment to public health.  I care about the same issues, but who am I (a computer science graduate with a perhaps faddish interest in public health) to suggest that they might be so badly wrong? I knew that my friend was unaware of the time that I have spent researching the latest science on this subject, and there were more interesting things for the boys and I to chat about.

It would have been just plain rude of me to suggest in the local pub that my friend and his advisors might be wrong. So obviously I shut up about the diet thing and got my round in.

This situation reminded me of a video of a presentation by Jeff Volek that I watched he other night.

This was a fascinating talk from the man who really got the whole LCHF movement rolling with solid research and wrote (with Stephen Phinney) The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, this is perhaps the holy bible of the LCHF movement.

The presentation was quite simply the best introduction to the subject that I have ever seen; I would encourage all parents, teachers, dieticians, doctors and ministers to watch this video.

A great observation near the start of the presentation was this:

New theories have 4 stages of acceptance:
1: This is worthless nonsense.
2) This is an interesting, but perverse point of view.
3) This is true, but quit unimportant.
4) I always said so.

The greatest challenge is not to convince one person that they could change their live with a change of diet; this has been done thousands of times and Jane is doing this with her clients regularly. No, the big challenge is to find a way of helping trusted clinicians, advisors and even governments to change the beliefs that they have held though their careers. It is a much greater dilemma than mine for a GP to change the advice that she gives to her patients , even when she suspects that the new advice is right.

This is referred to by Volek and Phinney as the Warren and Marshall Syndrome (after two Australian scientists who proved that ulcers were created by bacterial infection rather than too much stomach acid. Despite the glaring truth doctors continued to prescribe antacid drugs for several years. They were later given a Nobel prize).  Faced with undeniable proof that a better cause of treatment exists, doctors (just like anyone else) will be very slow to ditch the habits of a lifetime, to in effect admit that they and the medical establishment were wrong.

Now multiply my dilemma to the huge responsibility faced by governments and their advisors when it comes to advising us as to as what we should eat.
  • We know that the current advice is not working.
  • We are only in power for the next 4 years
  • We have heard that there is a much better and safer course to steer.
  • No one likes to be told that they are wrong.
  • Who do we trust?
 Here is my advice. Trust what works. Ignore the lack of full double-blind randomised controlled trials; only the drug companies sponsor this kind of research nowadays and they are simply not interested in proving that they are wrong, it would probably lead to costly law suits. There is no good science either to justify the current nutritional advice that has led to the obesity epidemic.

Trust the diabetics who are no longer reliant on drugs. Trust the obese patients who have their lives back. Eat Real Food, not synthetic crap made of sugar. Trust Tim Noakes! And then when we are older and this is all in the past, make sure that he is given a Nobel prize.

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