Controversial Banting diet ‘can cause cancer’

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

The controversial eat-more-fat Banting diet could lead to cancer in one’s intestine, says UK nutritionist and author Patrick Holford, recently in Cape Town for a series of health talks.

Holford says the low carbohydrate and high fat diet does lead to weight loss but is “not sustainable”.

UK nutritionist and author Patrick Holford. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

UK nutritionist and author Patrick Holford. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

This diet is named after Londoner William Banting who prescribed it in 1861.

Cape Town-based Professor Tim Noakes, who has written extensively on exercise and diet, caused an outcry earlier this year when he promoted this diet in his new book. Medical and health professionals slammed it.

Holford said in an interview last week that this diet is a “short-term fix” to weight loss.

“Studies have shown that people on the Banting diet don’t stay on it. The compliance is poor. It came and went. Some people like it. If you’re a meat eater you would prefer it,” he said.

“There are dangers with it. It stresses the kidneys. This is concerning for diabetics as they often have kidney problems. A study last month showed all the measures of kidney stress were raised in people with a high meat and dairy diet.”

He added: “There is a more concerning problem that is long term. If you look at what increases the risk of colorectal cancer, it’s a high red meat diet.”

“If you eat a lot of meat, you’re more constipated. It increases the time you have food in your gut. That increases the cancer risk.”

Colorectal cancer develops in parts of the large intestine.

Holford said there was nothing wrong though with having fat in one’s diet, as “sugar makes you fat, not fat”.

His talks in Cape Town this weekend will focus on how proper nutrition and not drugs ensures one a healthy life.

“I spend most of my time turning people on to healthy eating. Most of us are getting sicker from diseases that are preventable, because of what we eat,” he said.

“It’s terrible to see how many drugs people are on. And they’re just getting fatter and sicker and sicker.”

Holford will also talk about his latest book, Good Medicine, and share his research on how to “burn fat fast”. He said this diet plan was focused on eating less some days and not trying to speedily losing fat.

“If you have three days in a week where you eat either much less calories or eat in a way where you produce much less insulin it switches on anti-ageing genes and speeds up your metabolism,” said Holford.

“If you can cut your calories by 20% and eat that way for two or three days a week then you lose even more weight. It’s a proven effective way to lose weight.”

Holford said he hoped his talks would “help people reverse the health problems they have now”.

“People are struggling. Sometimes people just need support,” he said.


About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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