Following a March World Health Organisation draft recommendation that daily sugar intake be reduced to 50gm from 100gm, Taimex Uganda’s Dr Ismail Tamale, is asking Ugandans to “forget about sugar altogether”.
Tamale, a personalised nutritionist, says not only have natural and artificial sugar substitutes been linked to obesity and tooth decay, some artificial sugar substitutes such as aspartame and sucrose have been linked to cancer.
“Those artificial sugar substitutes, the ones made from laboratories, are very dangerous. They have been said to result in cancer,” Tamale says.
Natural sugar substitutes consist of sugars made from sugarcane such as table sugar, molasses and jaggery. Honey and maple syrup are the other natural sugar substitutes. Natural sugars are found in fruits such as oranges, pineapples and pawpaw among others.
Tamale says that table sugar is weaned of nutrients such as magnesium and calcium, making it a poor substitute for natural sugars. He says the poor situation is exacerbated by many of us exceeding the recommended daily sugar intake by “so many” grammes.
“Fifty grammes of sugar translate into eight teaspoonfuls of sugar [or 12 ½ teaspoons as one teaspoon is equal to four grammes of sugar, according www.webmd.com] . Some of these soft drinks have 35 grammes. If you take two, you exceed the daily recommended intake,” Tamale says.
He adds that in addition to the sugar we add to our tea, we eat cakes, bread, chocolate and other candies such that we end up exceeding the draft recommendation.
“Sugar is an empty calorie; this means that in order to be absorbed, it takes calcium and magnesium from the body. That is why you will see that a child who eats candy, even if he brushes 100 times a day, will get tooth decay,” Tamale says.