It will serve parents well to keep in mind that balance is the key word for any growing child’s diet! An ‘over-dose’ of ANY food type may not be good for us all.

Many parents may know about recent developments in the dietary field – and also about the theory of our own Professor Tim Noakes, one of our leading medical scientists.

Professor Noakes’ views have been well covered in the media – with praise as well as criticism from various sectors. In Brief: Having worked with numerous athletes, etc. he promotes a low carbohydrate, high fat diet. In principle, it is nothing new, having been previously described in diets such as the Atkins and Duken diets decades ago.

He challenges conventional dietary views about a high carbohydrate; low fat diet – believing it appears to be the cause of our obesity problem. The question of what should constitute a healthy diet for long and active lives is inadequately answered by current ‘expert’ opinion.

Fifty years ago, only a small fraction of the world’s population was obese or had diabetes. Something has changed dramatically over this time, as we are more overweight today than ever before; with more than 60% of our adult population overweight or obese.

Our children also are not spared obesity: a recent Discovery Vitality survey showed that 25% of children are overweight / obese. What has changed? Seemingly two factors played a leading role in this: we were told to eat more carbohydrates and less fat, and our consumption of sugar specifically increased – as conventional dietary advice resulted in changed eating patterns. The increase in overweight people seems to mirror increased carbohydrate ingestion and the drastically decreased consumption of butter (38% in the US) – with sugar going up 41% in the last fifty years.

Obesity related diseases such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes, arthritis, liver disease, cancer, and gall bladder disease are thus closely related to these changes in diet.

All parties do agree that we should not ingest a significant load of refined carbohydrates, like sugar, white bread, and rice – which are rapidly digested and absorbed. This causes a spike in insulin and drives glucose into the muscle and liver, converting excess blood sugar into fat. This continuous spiking of insulin levels ultimately leads to heart disease and diabetes.

If you want your children to grow up to be healthy adults, cut out the fizzy drinks, sports drinks, breakfast cereals, potato crisps, biscuits and sweets. Give them more protein like fish, meat, chicken, and eggs with plenty of vegetables, and importantly, unsaturated fat in the form of nuts, olive oil, and avos.

Don’t burn Professor Noakes at the stakes just yet, as the more I research this topic, the more I believe that our eating habits are going to change significantly over the next decade or so – despite us still needing much solid research to find the solution.

 

Dr Glen Hagemann – practising sports medicine practitioner – Sharks Medical Centre, Kings Park Stadium

 

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