SA may be Banting itself to bowel cancer, warns Holford

2014-10-16 00:00

COULD it become the battle of the dinner plate as a top UK nutrition expert visits the land of the Banting diet?

Patrick Holford, the popular British nutritionist probably best known for his promotion of the “optimum nutrition” low glycaemic loading (GL) diet, is currently in South Africa presenting a series of workshops, one of which is based on his new book Good Medicine — Safe, natural ways to solve over 75 common health problems.

Holford has arrived in a South Africa obsessed with Tim Noakes and his low-carb high-fat diet — the so-called Banting diet — promoted in the book The Real Meal Revolution.

Holford agrees with Noakes on identifying sugar as a major factor in terms of disease and obesity, adding that his own recommended diet — a balance of protein, carbohydrate and fibre — achieves similar results when it comes to weight loss, “pretty much equally”.

But Holford said he was worried about the long-term effects of a high-fat diet with a lack of fibre and a diet with an emphasis on meat and dairy products, though he agreed with Noakes in pinpointing insulin.

“Insulin makes cancer cells grow. And it’s stimulated by meat and dairy products,” said Holford adding that the real culprit was Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) contained in a variety of milk-based dairy products.

“The purpose of milk is to make cells grow,” he said. “But after 40 we don’t need a lot of IGF-1. Animal and human trials show that IGF-1 levels are promoted by dairy and red meat.”

Holford said he had “a genuine fear” that those who adopt the Banting diet long term will “respond with colorectal cancer”.

“The link of milk to prostate cancer is undeniable,” said Holford. “You can predict a country’s cancer rates by two things: milk consumption and bean consumption. More beans and less milk, means less cancer.”

Holford also disagrees with Noakes’s claim that all grains are bad for you. Acknowledging gluten was a problem, he said not all grains contain it. “Oats are not a gluten grain.”

But he agreed with Noakes that a spotlight needs to be turned on wheat. “Though the wheat we are eating is not genetically modified it has become so hybridised over the years that our digestive system doesn’t see it as a friend.”

Holford said carbohydrates are historically the “preferred food” of human beings and that our ancestors lived in tropical jungles and lived on fruit.

Holford also emphasised the importance of regular exercise. “Everyone talks about the Mediterranean diet, but they mean a Greek who lives in a village and walks about seven miles a day. We are eating too much and not burning off calories.”

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