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Friday, 14 November 2014
ABC’s Catalyst program under fire over pushing controversial low carbohydrate diet
EXPERTS have challenged the extreme low carbohydrate diet pushed on the ABCs Catalyst program warning it could be bad for bowel health and does not contain enough nutrients.
Dietician Rosemary Stanton who helped write the NHMRC national dietary guidelines says a lower carbohydrate diet is good if people cut out cakes, biscuits and sugary breakfast cereals.
These junk foods now make up 35 per cent of our diet, she said.
However, she says they should still eat the carbohydrates in wholegrains and fruit.
“I’m not saying the (low carbohydrate diet) will cause bowel cancer but there are plenty of studies showing diets high in wholegrains and fruit reduce the risk of bowel cancer and diabetes,” she said.
“You won’t get all the vitamins you need (on the low carbohydrate diet), you’d have to take supplements,” she said.
She’s also warned the extreme low carbohydrate diets featured on the program will leave you with constipation and bad breath that smells like acetone nail polish remover.
The controversy comes just months after the ABC pulled from its website an earlierCatalyst program which questioned the links between cholesterol and heart disease prompting thousands of Australians to stop taking statin medication.
The Catalyst program last night featured scientists who claim the food pyramid that underpins dietary guidelines should be inverted and instead of eating carbohydrates like bread, cereals and fruit we should eat more fat.
Diabetes Australia was criticised on the program for recommending a high carbohydrate, low fat diet.
A spokeswoman said the organisation was too busy today with World Diabetes Day events to respond to the charge.
Instead, it issued a statement urging Australians with diabetes to discuss individual diets with their healthcare team.
“The Australian Dietary Guidelines released in 2013 are a very good guide to healthy eating for the entire population,” the statement says.
“When it comes to people who are diagnosed with diabetes, or people who may be at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes because they already have impaired glucose tolerance, there is no diet that works for everyone.”
The Heart Foundation says its dietary guidelines were based on National Health and Medical research guidelines based on an analysis of around 55,000 new research publications that have appeared since the last version of the guidelines a decade ago.
“The Heart Foundation does not recommend a high carbohydrates/low fat diet or vice versa. We recommend maintaining a balance between fat (mostly unsaturated) and carbohydrate intakes,” Ms Mary Barry, National Heart Foundation of Australia, CEO said
“The Heart Foundation recommends that a heart healthy diet is one that is plant-based and includes a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains. In addition, we make specific recommendations to include 2-3 serves of oily fish/week, nuts, avocadoes, olives and their oils, choose lean meats and dairy products.”
Sports medicine scientist Professor Tim Noakes pushes the case for the low carbohydrate diet on the Catalyst program with the startling claim that “humans have absolutely no requirement for carbohydrate, not one gram do we require”.
After telling endurance athletes for years to carbohydrate load before marathons he now says they should be fat loading instead.
Noakes tells the program the high carbohydrate diet recommended in dietary guidelines has contributed to the obesity epidemic in developed countries because it stimulates insulin a hormone that increases the body’s fat stores.
“What this diet (low carbohydrate) does is it’s high in fat and protein and that satiates your brain and reduces your hunger,” Noakes says.
Dr Phinney’s books recommend a ketogenic diet that contain just 10-50 grams of carbohydrate a day. Instead people are told to eat fats like avocado, nuts and olive oil and protein like chicken, beef, eggs, pork and turkey and copious amounts of non-starchy vegetables.
The program also features cricketer Shane Watson who says he battled with his weight untiMy Kitchen Rules chef Pete Evans, also a fan of low carbohydrate eating appears on the show.
Deakin University nutritionist Associate Professor Tim Crowe told the program the extreme low carbohydrate diet cuts out really good healthy foods like wholegrains and fruit “that we know reduce the long term risk of disease”.
Rosemary Stanton says there are no large, long term studies of the health effects of low carbohydrate diets.
These studies show this type of diet sets up good bacteria in the bowel and protect against heart disease, diabetes and cancer, she says.
In Japan, where traditionally they ate a high carbohydrate diet of rise, vegetables, fish and fruit there was a very low incidence of diabetes and bowel cancer until the population began eating a western diet, she said.
She warns the extreme low carbohydrate diet is hard to follow.
While it urges eating lots of butter, you can’t put it on bread or crackers or consume it in cakes and biscuits and you can’t eat your cheese with crackers.
The diets also ignore the evidence linking bacon and cured meats to cancer, she says.
Most of the studies involve small groups of less than 20 people and the longest study available follows people for just a single year.
“There are lots of long term studies of the results of diets including legumes and fruit and wholegrains,” she said.
The Heart Foundation (AUS) one of the critics has a vested interest in the food industry so hardly an impartial view from them.
A news.com.au investigation has found extensive links between the Heart Foundation and the food industry; links that involve corporate sponsorship, high-level staff moving between the two and the increasing comercialisation of the influential Healthy Heart Tick certification program.
Supports it even, to the tune of awarding its Healthy Heart Tick in recent years across an increasingly wide range of sugar filled foods, including burgers, pizzas, fruit bars and cereals.