National Nutrition Week 2023 Questioning Nutritional Guidelines: Are They Truly Healthy?

As South Africa commemorates National Nutrition Week from October 9 to 15, we’re diving deep into the vital role that nutrition plays in our lives. This year’s theme, “Feel Good with Food“, reminds us that making the right food choices isn’t just about what’s on our plates – it’s about building healthier lives and communities.

At The Noakes Foundation, we are passionate about promoting evidence-based nutrition, and this week gives us the opportunity to reflect on the dietary guidelines that shape choices and impact people’s well-being.  The question is, are these guidelines truly leading us toward better health? For years, we’ve been advised to follow a low-fat, high-carbohydrate (LFHC) diet as the gold standard for health. But is this advice based on the most recent scientific evidence?

Several well-known organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, and various Dietetic Associations across the world, have faced criticism for dietary guidelines that some argue fall short of promoting true health. These organizations have been accused of advocating LFHC diets, discouraging beneficial fats, maintaining ties to the food industry, and sometimes prioritizing industry interests over public health. Critics contend that such recommendations may inadvertently contribute to health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and much more. These concerns highlight the need for constant re-evaluation of dietary advice, greater transparency, and a more personalized approach to nutrition to ensure the well-being of individuals and communities.

Recent studies have shed light on the potential benefits of the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet in promoting general and metabolic health. It has been proven that a well-formulated LCHF diet can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, aid in weight management, and much more.  In addition to this, carbohydrate restriction plays a role in improving markers of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular health.  The benefits of the LCHF diet also include enhancing endurance and performance, indicating its potential to optimize athletic performance. 

The LCHF diet has gained increasing attention for its potential to manage and reverse diabetes effectively. Prominent figures in this field, such as Prof Tim Noakes, have emphasized the positive impact of LCHF diets on glycemic control. In a study conducted by Noakes and Windt (2016), they highlighted the benefits of carbohydrate restriction in improving glucose control and reducing the need for diabetes medications. Furthermore, a comprehensive review by Feinman et al. (2015) proposed that LCHF diets should be the primary approach in diabetes management, stressing the importance of carbohydrate restriction as a key strategy for managing the condition. Emerging evidence indicates that LCHF diets can help stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce insulin resistance, and support better diabetes management, making it an area of growing interest for both researchers and individuals with diabetes.

Eat Better South Africa: 

During National Nutrition Week, it is important to recognize the commendable efforts of Eat Better South Africa. Their commitment to nutrition education and the promotion of wholesome eating perfectly aligns with the week’s theme of “Feel Good with Food”. This organization’s impact goes beyond mere awareness-raising; they actively transform lives. Through educational programs and initiatives that emphasize the consumption of whole, fresh foods, Eat Better South Africa plays a vital role in combating malnutrition and diet-related health concerns. Their devotion to enhancing the nation’s health is both timely and praiseworthy. They serve as an inspiring example of how organizations can genuinely contribute to the well-being of communities, not just during National Nutrition Week, but every single day.

Nutrition Network:

The Nutrition Network is driving significant change in the field of nutrition and well-being. They are dedicated to advancing knowledge about the critical role nutrition plays in health and vitality through their e-learning and community platform. By doing so, they empower both individuals and healthcare professionals to gain a deeper comprehension of evidence-based nutritional concepts. Their vital contribution lies in connecting the divide between nutritional wisdom and its real-world implementation, guiding individuals toward making healthier decisions that enhance their overall quality of life.

The Nutrition Network’s Textbook, Ketogenic: The Science of Therapeutic Carbohydrate Restriction in Human Health 1st Edition, in partnership with Elsevier International, presents the most up-to-date and evidence-based science and research available in the field of Therapeutic Carbohydrate Restriction (TCR), with the purpose of training medical and allied healthcare professionals on the effective therapeutic use of low-carbohydrate and ketogenic nutrition in clinical practice. This Textbook explores the appropriate, safe, and effective use of TCR to improve patient outcomes in a broad range of chronic metabolic conditions and aims to promote health. Get your copy here

The Noakes Foundation is committed to exploring and promoting evidence-based nutrition. We believe in asking the tough questions and seeking answers that contribute to better health for all. As National Nutrition Week draws to a close, we’re reminded that our quest for better health is an ongoing journey. The importance of critical thinking and exploring evidence-based nutrition cannot be overstated. As we move forward, let’s continue to question, explore, and engage in open dialogue. Let’s empower ourselves and our communities to make well-informed choices that enhance our health and vitality. 

Thank you for being a part of this important conversation during National Nutrition Week. Together, we can create a healthier, happier, and more informed South Africa.

Join the Conversation: We invite you to share your thoughts and experiences. Have you questioned the conventional dietary guidelines? What’s your take on the latest scientific insights? Let’s engage in respectful dialogue and continue our journey to better health together.


Ludwig, D. S., Hu, F. B., & Tappy, L. (2018). The ketogenic diet: Evidence for optimism but high-quality research needed. JAMA, 319(3), 215-217.

Feinman, R. D., Pogozelski, W. K., Astrup, A., Bernstein, R. K., Fine, E. J., Westman, E. C., … & Nielsen, J. V. (2015). Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base. Nutrition, 31(1), 1-13.

Noakes, T., & Windt, J. (2016). Evidence that supports the prescription of low-carbohydrate high-fat diets: a narrative review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(2), 133-139.



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