Viva: Escherichia Coli

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), June 20, 2006 | Go to article overview

Viva: Escherichia Coli


Byline: By KAREN JOHNSON Medical Nutritionist

Q Are sweeteners good or bad for us and what damage can they cause? I hear so much conflicting advice.

A There are lots of different sweeteners and they are added by food manufacturers to many foods like ready meals, puddings, yoghurts, jars of sauces and drinks such as lemonade and colas. They are 300-600 times sweeter than sugar so less is used and compared to sugar the calorie content is much lower.

Sugar has almost 20 calories per teaspoon and a sweetener such as Canderel has only 2 calories.

There are five sweeteners permitted for use in the UK because they are known to be safe. The most widely used sweeteners are Sucralose which is 60% sweeter than sugar and is used in most drinks. Sorbitol (E420) is 50% sweeter. Saccharin (E954) is used in baking and is 40% sweeter. It is unlikely that you will use large amounts of sweeteners as they are so sweet.

Most people ask me about aspartame (E951). The European Commission have stated that this sweetener is very safe.

However, if you suffer with the condition phenylke-tonuria or PKU, which stops you from metabolizing the amino acid phenylalanine, you should avoid aspartame.

Studies from scientists have shown that most sweeteners are safe and not harmful to health at all.

You are at higher risk of becoming ill from environmental pollutions. For example, we know that cancer develops when there is damage to genetic material in cells caused by smoking cigarettes, exposure to ultra violet light from sunbeds, sunbathing and certain chemicals.

We all need to limit sugar intake as it causes fluctuating blood sugar levels, decays teeth and depresses the immune system. Sweet foods suppress the appetite therefore if you eat a lot of them you are less likely eat nutritious foods. Sugar doesn't have any nutrition like vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein etc.

So for those reasons sweeteners in small amounts are more beneficial.

Q I give my eight-month-old baby blended mixed seafood like prawns and my sister said I shouldn't. …

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