The amount of sugar one takes should depend on one’s level of activity because if not utilised, the body converts excess sugars into fats, which may lead to unnecessary weight gain.
Sharon Naluwende, a nutritionist from Mulago Hospital, says consumption of sugar leads to inadequate energy for the body, hence a breakdown in its functions.
Excess consumption of sugar leads to weight gain, eventually leading to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity. The other dangers of excessive sugar include damaged dental system, kidney and liver failure as well as insulin resistance syndrome.
Halima Namutebi, a nutritionist in Kampala, explains that the danger of excess calories is that they are stored as fats and some get deposited in the veins and arteries. This makes the blood vessels smaller and eventually one suffers from a heart attack.
And as for diabetes, the cells are occupied by the excess fat, which blocks the insulin receptors and therefore, sugar regulation in the body fails. More glucose continues to saturate the blood, therefore, leading to diabetes.
Recommended sugar intake
Alhough nutritionists recommend a daily intake of about 2.4 calories, this depends on how much exercise one does, because the higher the exercise level, the more the calories needed.
Namutebi says people with a weak immune system such as those living with HIV/AIDS need to take more sugars as their bodies need extra energy.
Sources of sugars
Sugars can be found in cereals (rice, sorghums, millet, barley, maize), root tubers (cassava, sweet potatoes), fruits and sugarcane. These natural sources, according to nutritionists, are safer sources of sugar unlike the refined sugar that is just added to most foods and drinks.
Refined sugars are usually found in products such as cake, sodas, beer, processed juice, chocolate and candy.
Naluwende explains that refined sugar are ‘empty calories’ because they only offer the body calories and no other nutrient. So as you consume more sugar, you take in just more calories.
Namutebi says there is a need for more sensitisation so that people can know how much or the sugar or salt they need to take and the dangers associated with having an excess of these two in the body.