I stayed up last night imagining how Prof Tim Noakes was feeling. Wondering if it still stresses him or affects him and his family as much after these excruciating years of being dredged under the public spotlight in the way that he has. I hoped they have at least found good ways to deal with the drawn-out trauma of the situation he has been put in and cruelly dragged through in what I believe a very unkind and unnecessary way. I wondered how he is coping with the tardiness of the HPCSA in giving him a fair verdict.
The thing about him is that he doesn’t give up or buckle like the rest of us might. He doesn’t get bullied into silence and he doesn’t fault his beliefs or doubt them. He does his research.
Like any true leader and coach, Prof really holds clear in his faith and knows that time and effort pay off. His own health and life is testament to his courage. He is a type 2 diabetic in remission, with an HBA1C of 5,2. This, in itself, is a remarkable feat that deserves extreme respect. He is also one of the true genius minds of our time and a real hero in our country.
He has taught me about how important persistence and perseverance is many times; when I have doubted lagging projects that seem not to be taking off, doubted myself, a team member or almost anything else along the way. He reminds us all that you have to keep believing, fighting for truth and trusting your voice and your inner compass of what is right and it will pay off.
Even if it feels like it never will. Patience and persistence will be rewarded and worth it. Maybe he learned it in his years and years of running marathons by overcoming his own challenges which he later taught to teams and still coaches to many.
And that is just what he has done for years now throughout his enquiry or, as some would call it more accurately, attack, by the Health Professions Council of South Africa. It’s a cruel and disrespectful thing to hold a person on the line for a long extended time I believe. All the more so when it comes to this particular person.
I have never known a human more generous with his voice and knowledge than Prof Noakes. He always says yes to helping charitable causes and there are infinite ways in which he has helped others over the years, in ways few people know of. He doesn’t talk about it much, but I get to see it in my job all the time. There are few places on earth one can go where there are not people whose lives he has impacted and who he has helped through his mind, his generosity of spirit and his incredible knowledge and insight that few on this planet have. He shares it with whoever he can, in as many ways as he can, in the most generous and bigger picture ways that he possibly can. Often selflessly and at a cost to his own health and time with his loved ones.
His legacy and voice in just the last years since his diabetes diagnosis has manifested in the foundation that is recipient to his recent work and published books. We receive the royalties and income of his talks and all the other work he does and he is still the dominant funder of the work we do. His generosity and reach are unlimited.
Yes, it sometimes gets him in trouble – who else tirelessly sits up on weekends and at night answering people’s personal questions on Twitter and emails? He did not reply to the breastfeeding question on Twitter some years ago to be malicious but to help and share his knowledge in ways he can. He is not doing this for the money, to acquire new patients like some of the others who were in that discussion, or for the reputation or to boost his scientific status. He does it simply because he wants to help people. Because he cares. A lot. Cares about the problems in our healthcare system and in our world. Because he chooses to be of service. Because his maverick voice is so needed in our times. He has seen personally and first-hand what the current lacking and poor dietary advice does to the human body. He lost his father to this problem in the cruelest way, but by being brave and bucking convention, he saved himself from what is assumed to be a genetic and irreversible diagnosis. Along with hundreds of thousands of others in a similar metabolic predicament in our country and around the world.
There is nothing more threatening than someone completely overturning a truth that has been ‘known’ and assumed as being the truth. Most especially when it points to a trillion dollar empire that rules the understanding of the medical and metabolic world and shakes its roots.
So, today his ‘verdict’ is meant to be revealed. But I want to say that I don’t really care anymore about this verdict, because of the poor way that the professional body has handled this, it has lost credibility in my mind and I would imagine many of those who fund it as well as many from the world that have watched this mess unravel through days of arduous enquiry.
Rather than a verdict of some kind, what is owed to Prof Noakes is a huge, generous and profound apology for all he has been put through in the last years. To his family for all they were put through for no good reason. What is owed to him is the opportunity or at least invitation to be consulted should he wish, on a review of the current dietary guidelines in South Africa.
As one of the leading minds of our nation and our time, I imagine often how all this time and money put into this never-ending trial could have been used in a way that would have benefitted the dietary debate rather than obfuscate. I imagine if we had all been sitting working through the issues and tackling the real issue here: that our current dietary guidelines have failed us; that we are sicker and are suffering from lifestyle diseases that should be avoidable and were relative non-issues a few generations ago.
So, I would like to extend my gratitude to the HPCSA for having highlighted its shortcomings over these years – in showing up some major issues that need addressing in the dietary debate and for allowing this to become a global debate on the flaws of our dietary guidelines.
I would like to thank the 42,000 brave docs and allied workers that have stood up, signed the petition against the HPCSA, here:
The several hundred medical docs and allied health workers all around the world that have joined our training and are implementing this in their practices through the Nutrition Network.
The millions of South Africans that are changing their health for the better every day through our Eat Better programs and also through this inspiring place on social media here (currently subscribed to by 1,4 million):
The 11,000 public members that signed the Avaaz campaign here:
and the 20,000 that signed here:
Mostly, I would like to thank the man that has been the face of a nation for many decades and who is still showing up bravely and fighting an incredible fight, with energy, passion, humour, and unbelievable grace. And his family who are going through this all with him and not giving up.
We at The Noakes Foundation intend to make you proud. We don’t feel the HPCSA’s ‘ruling’ is relevant. We are with Tim!
COO The Noakes Foundation