A Physician’s Story: Dr Hassina Kajee
Hassina Kajee is a specialist physician at hospital in Cape Town, mom to a 1 yr old who was fed high fat breast milk till 6 months and then weaned onto whole foods. She, her husband, 3 year old and 1 year old have been on an LCHF lifestyle for 1 year and have never eaten more delicious food.
“In the classical version of the Hippocratic Oath, the second paragraph reads as follows:
“ With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage.”
Herein, in my humble opinion, lies the crux of the heated medical debate surrounding the ‘controversial’ LCHF diet.
On the one hand stands a man, an A1 rated scientist, a newly diagnosed diabetic, who after struggling to control his diabetes with conventional advice, found the solution in the LCHF diet. With the backing of an international community of LCHF researchers and practitioners but perhaps more importantly, the ongoing support from tens of thousands of people who have benefitted from this lifestyle change- people whose last resort would have been gastric bypass surgery.
On the other hand, are well meaning doctors convinced that a diet higher in fats than the outdated low-fat model would have scores of people dying from strokes and heart disease.
I must admit that I was apprehensive when I first heard of the LCHF diet. I too immediately rubbished it, especially when I read that fruit should also be limited. I could not understand why legumes were not allowed at all and why fruit and certain vegetables were restricted.
Thankfully, my curiosity got the better of me. It took three attempts at Banting and reading countless research papers, books and watching videos and lectures to finally convince me that ‘eating everything in moderation’ is not the answer for everyone. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to diets. Obese people are not fat simply because they overeat! It is not just too many calories in and too few calories burned that makes you fat! I realized that obesity occurs when a carbohydrate sensitive person eats a diet too high in that macronutrient.
Just as a person with a peanut allergy or lactose intolerance CANNOT eat peanuts or dairy in moderation without having symptoms, so too this is true for people with carbohydrate sensitivity who manifest with obesity and diabetes as symptoms.
It is clear that the current low-fat advice does not work. Ask any obese person who has tried to lose weight on a calorie restricted low fat diet.
It is also no surprise that South Africa is the most obese country in Sub-Saharan Africa and that we are the 3rd most obese country world wide !
More than 2.6 million people in our country are diabetic – this figure is estimated to rise by 55% in 2035. An estimated 227 people die daily in SA from diabetes related diseases.
As a doctor, I simply cannot and will not continue to work in a system where it is the norm to diagnose the next lifestyle related complication without any attempt to prevent illness. This to me is not progress.
Later on in the Hippocratic Oath, it reads: ‘I will prevent disease wherever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.’
It is this aspect of the LCHF lifestyle that resonates with me so strongly! For the first time, the forgotten obese patient can and IS losing weight, lots and lots of weight- AND keeping it off. This was completely unheard of before Banting became a household name! People are coming off their insulin and even their diabetes pills! Entire families have reduced sugar intake and are finding improved symptoms of asthma, eczema, arthritis among other illnesses.
Though it is true that long-term studies to show that there is no increase in coronary artery disease and strokes are still required, in the short term (2 years), the results show that time and again, an LCHF diet is superior to a low-fat diet in improving diabetes control, weight loss and as effective if not superior in increasing good cholesterol and reducing bad cholesterol.
More and more people have become interested in their health and diet and are educating themselves! There is a lot more awareness in the general public about sugar consumption than there was 2 years ago and hopefully this momentum will continue.
None of this would be possible without the dogmatic search for truth undertaken by Professor Tim Noakes. He has painstakingly stood up for his beliefs day after day.
For me this is also very personal! Without Prof Noakes, my husband would still be 15kg overweight in spite of a ‘very healthy low-fat diet’ and regular exercise and he would not be able to do one arms push-ups! My son and daughter would have ongoing eczema flares. My children would most likely have developed diabetes and heart disease as they aged following our in family trend. I would NOT have job satisfaction!!! I would have continued to treat heart attack after heart attack without a hope for the future of my patients offspring. My career path has changed thanks to Professor Noakes! I finally feel like I can make a difference. I
Thank you Professor Noakes for your contribution to science and medical history and to my life.”