By Dr Alison Kamffer
Recently there has been some controversy about whether or not children should be included in the low carb fad, with the president of the ASDA Association for dietetics in South Africa even reporting Prof Noakes to the Medical Council!
Is this justified? Is it safe for children to go without carbohydrate in their diet?
Traditional dieticians like this Sydney based one will tell you that “Carbohydrates are essential to the brain function of children at school, as well as maintaining energy levels…while the diets can lead to weight loss in overweight children, they will miss out on essential nutrients such as fibre and other vitamins.” [Since when fibre was a vitamin I’m not sure!] The evidence in fact tells us otherwise, and while no formal studies have been done, anecdotal stories of children being raised on A Low Carb Healthy Fat[LCHF] diet suggest that they benefit from the lack of sugar rather than suffering. Sugar and fast-working carbohydrates tend to give ‘turbo energy’ making children over-active. Of course children react differently, but most react negatively to sugar, finding it difficult to sit still and focus. Additionally if you follow the 65% carbohydrate diet that we are told to give our children, the likelihood is that the child is not going to get essential proteins and fats; and then you run the risk of their brains not developing properly!
What are the advantages of giving children benefit an LCHF diet?
Firstly by increasing the amount of (good) fat in your children’s diet, they will feel fuller for longer. There will be fewer temper tantrums, so often due to low blood sugar levels and hunger after eating excess sugar. These foods also affect sleep, and children who eat fewer carbs and more good fats sleep better. One child psychiatrist says: “I remember doing this for a child who had ADHD, and a couple of days later the teacher asked me if I could give this child an afternoon dose of the drug I had given him in the morning. When all we had done was changed his diet from fruit loops and skim milk to bacon and eggs!”
Prof Tim Noakes says: “I got reported to the Health Professional’s council for saying this, but the facts are: Humans, including children have no requirements for carbohydrates whatsoever. There’s no evidence that you need to eat carbohydrates to be healthy. I am not saying that you want to cut all carbohydrates to children, but that proteins and fats are most essential to the growth of the child.”
Being obese as a child, according to some researchers, has the same effect on quality of life as having cancer as a child. Children now have fatty livers, insulin resistance and diabetes because of the high carbohydrate food they are being fed, the fault of the food industry, poor government regulation, poor nutrition research, and poor public health recommendations. One US physician, Dr Robert Lustig, has made a decision to publicly attack sugar as the demon in childhood obesity. On May 26, 2009, he delivered a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” which was posted on YouTube the following July and “went viral” with some 5.4 million viewings [as of Feb 8, 2015]. In his lecture, Lustig calls fructose a “poison” and equates its metabolic effects with those of ethanol.
While most would agree that nutrient-poor sugary drinks are probably the best place to start,, the obvious next step is to processed and other rapidly absorbed carbohydrates, including those all too popular breakfast cereals, advertised as healthy, whereas in fact there is as much nutrition in the packaging!. [Interestingly enough a recent investigation by the consumer group, Grass Action, shows cereal maker Kellogg’s to be a major sponsor of the [ASDA], as it is of dieticians’ associations worldwide. Other sponsors include Woolworths, the sugar industry, via Equisweet, a sweetener product made by Hulett’s, and at times Nestle, Unilver and even Coca Cola for nutrition education events – which can sound oxymoronic!]
So is a LCHF diet suitable for children? Most definitely! It provides them with essential nutrients and protects them from excessive amounts of nutrient deficient sugary foods which presently make up far too much of the modern child’s diet.
This article was written by SureSlim’s Dr Ali.