Dr Zara Quail MBChB (UCT)
Health News

Ask not which diet is best, BUT which diet is best for YOU!

The fact is, all metabolisms are not equal. Each one of us are individuals and our individual bodies will respond to nutrients, protein and carbohydrates in a different way.

All the criticism and hype about high fat-low carb (HFLC) diet vs balanced diets is a bit tedious. Prof Tim Noakes has time and again pointed out that he is not recommending high fat-low carb eating for everyone. It has shown benefits for people whose bodies do not deal with glucose efficiently (insulin-resistant). Ketogenic diets similar to this have also proven to be beneficial to people with certain types of epilepsy and in early Alzheimer’s, which is starting to be recognised as Type 3 diabetes, a type of insulin-resistance of the brain.

The fact is everyone is different, and each person should work out what nutrients will best support their body type, genetic predispositions and current functioning. Functional Medicine focuses on helping individuals find key clinical imbalances in the body’s physiology and functioning and practitioners help to direct them to the correct nutrition and lifestyle measures to improve their functional health and prevent disease.

The recent University of Stellenbosch study on low carbohydrate versus balanced diets assesses “pooled the results of 19 clinical trials”, which of course is a systematic review, the stuff of which evidence-based medicine is made. But while any implemented evidence-based treatment will be beneficial to most participants in a trial, it will harm some and even sometimes kill others.

So, before you jump on, or off, a particular dietary bandwagon, be it the HFLC, Paleo, Atkins, Low GI, Plant-based or the nutrient deficient SAD (Standard South African Diet / Standard American Diet), ask yourself, perhaps with the help of a trained functional medicine practitioner, "Which is the best food plan for ME?"