Published in the Sunday Times
Lore of Nutrition: Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs
Tim Noakes and Marika Sboros
Penguin Random House, R290
In July 2015, I became one of few scientists in history to be publicly prosecuted for expressing my opinion.
The “hearing” (more accurately, a full-on legal trial) that the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) and Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) brought against me lasted 25 days over more than three years. It concluded in April 2017 when the independent panel found me innocent of all charges.
But, despite the massive costs on all sides, the HPCSA has chosen to appeal the verdict. The “hearing” reconvenes in February 2018.
Lore of Nutrition: Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs, co-written with investigative journalist Marika Sboros, explains how the hearing came about. It had nothing to do with my tweet. That was just a pretext. It was the inevitable outcome of my decision in December 2010 to change my diet from the high-carbohydrate, low-fat one I had advocated and followed for 33 years, to one high in fat.
In so doing, I turned my back on all I had been taught about optimum human nutrition. I have learned much from my Damascene moment, as I call it. In particular, that the 1977 US Dietary Guidelines, which encouraged us to “make starchy foods the basis of most meals”, are the direct cause of the obesity and diabetes pandemics that now threaten the financial sustainability of medical services globally. The evidence we present (and on which I built my defence in the HPCSA “hearing”) establishes beyond doubt that excessive dietary carbohydrate, not fat, is the real nutrition villain.
The book explains how the publication of The Real Meal Revolution in November 2013 spawned the HPCSA trial. It initiated a debate across all segments of the South African community, which had never before happened in this country, and perhaps in few other countries, if any. And when the public started questioning what they should be eating to be properly healthy, they began to threaten diet orthodoxy. One solution was to silence the messenger – hence the HPCSA hearing.
The first third of the book details actions of colleagues and organisations as they sought to discredit me and my “Banting” diet after my Damascene moment. I have included every single published criticism over six years, in the authors’ own words. I also provide the science to show that all are without foundation. I answer all criticisms fully and transparently.
Sboros writes the middle third of the book, summarising key details of the 25 days in court: The prosecution’s case and their expert witnesses, including their cross-examination; my testimony and cross-examination and that of the “Three Angels” – Nina Teicholz, Dr Zoe Harcombe and Dr Caryn Zinn; leading to the comprehensive not-guilty judgment by Advocate Joan Adams and her committee.
In the book’s final third, I present the evidence that until very recently, perhaps as recently as 60 years ago, humans were much healthier than we are today. I show the key driver of our ill-health: the adoption of the high-carbohydrate diet, which the 1977 US Dietary Guidelines promoted, by persons intolerant to carbohydrates – which turns out to be the majority of humans.
In the final chapter, Sboros summarises the many and glaring “imponderables” that should have prevented this “hearing” from ever happening.
The book is about the distortion and corruption of science that has led to our current state of global ill-health. It provides clear scientific evidence of what we need to do to regain our formerly healthy state.