Sunday, October 23, 2016

What Tim Noakes Is Teaching Doctors and Dietitians About Social Media

When my first grandchild turned five months, my daughter told me she was not going to start her on baby food rice cereal as the pediatrician suggested.

As a low-carb high-fat aficionado, I was pleased to hear this, since baby food rice cereal is virtually void of nutritional value (other than spray painted iron) and contains a potentially dangerous level of arsenic that could impair cognitive development.
Why does this baby look so horrified?

True confessions time: when my own children were infants, I fed them complementary food-like substances in the exact order my pediatrician prescribed as if there were dietary commandments every good parent must obey without question. (In my own defense, that was back in the day when my other main source of infant dietary information was Parent's Magazine, whose pages were filled with ads of -- you guessed it . . . commercial baby food!)

So what has changed in the past three decades? The emergence of social media has provided modern parents with a plethora of information heretofore hidden in medical journals and discussed only by maverick researchers, doctors and dietitians who dared to question the status quo.

Fast forward to 2016 . . . one of the biggest movements in the mommy world is baby led weaning ("weaning" in the British sense of complementary feeding of solid foods while still breast feeding), which advocates allowing babies to feed themselves real foods like avocado, squash and chicken that have not been pulsed, pureed or otherwise processed. The babies are allowed to eat with their hands or a spoon they maneuver themselves instead of being force fed like miniature invalids.

Like many mothers of today, my daughter learned about this strategy of complementary feeding from wide reading, digesting various points of view until she formed her own opinion.

Which brings me to the absurd hearing now being held by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) against Real Meal Revolution co-author and internationally renowned scientist Prof. Tim Noakes, MD, based on a single -- one, uno, eins -- tweet in response to a question posed by a possible human plant named Pippa Leenstra:

In case you missed it, here was Leenstra's tweet and the response by Noakes:
After Noakes posted his response, then president of the Association for Dietetics in South African (ASDA) Claire Julsing Strydom screamed at him on Twitter
and followed through on her threat by lodging a complaint with HPCSA claiming that Noakes was violating professional ethics by giving Leenstra unconventional and potentially harmful medical advice as if there were a doctor-patient relationship.

Of course, what was really at issue is the growing popularity of Banting (as the low-carb high-fat diet is known in South Africa) which is destroying the credibility and depleting the bank accounts of dietitians such as Strydrom who still spout conventional commercially-funded advice to eat copious amounts of carbohydrates based on dubious governmental dietary guidelines.

The HPCSA ran (or, more accurately, crawled) with Strydrom's ball and is still hearing evidence (after almost three years) that could potentially result in stripping Noakes of his medical license. The A1 scientist, meanwhile, has used this mock trial as a means of educating the medical community about the new reality of how health information is disbursed in the age of social media.

As reported by Marika Sboros on her FoodMed blog, which is performing a huge public service by covering this nutritional Scopes Trial in detail, the wide availability of divergent dietary advice seems to be doing far more good than harm.
(Noakes) argued that a lack of information, not access to information, was the real danger. He said Twitter’s “natural democracy” means that “what works percolates to the top. What does not work falls to the bottom”.
As an interesting side note, Noakes has 78,000 Twitter followers as of today, whereas the South African dietetics society has only 1,251. If people vote with their social media Follows, more people want to read what Noakes has to say about health and nutrition than the official organization of registered dietitians in his own country.

Like most social media savvy moms of today, Pippa Leenstra and my daughter are lucky to have such a wealth of health and nutrition information available on their iPads and no longer have to rely on industry-funded dietary guidelines parroted by pediatricians, many of whom lack in-depth knowledge about nutrition.

Leenstra did not use Noakes' tweet as her sole source of information on how to feed her child just as my daughter did not read just one blog post or article to formulate her feeding strategy. But neither relied solely on their baby's doctor's advice either.

What Prof. Noakes knows and today's doctors are finding out is that health and nutrition research can no longer be suppressed by a small cadre of so-called experts. Thanks to social media and "the wisdom of the crowd," today's parents are making choices based on multiple sources of information.

See also:

Tim Noakes Hearing: Dietitians Vs. #LCHF Doctor in South Africa

Ralph Waldo Noakes:Why Tim Noakes Changing His Mind About Carbohydrates and Fat Was an Act of Courage

Low-carb book recommendations:

Low Carb, High Fat Food Revolution: Advice and Recipes to Improve Your Health and Reduce Your Weight

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet

What the Fat?: Fat's IN: Sugar's OUT Practical guide and recipes

The Real Meal Revolution: The Radical, Sustainable Approach to Healthy Eating (Age of Legends)

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers

The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it?

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars

Eat Fat, Get Thin: Why the Fat We Eat Is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health

New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great

The Harcombe Diet: Stop Counting Calories & Start Losing Weight

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