News & Features

Tuesday 15th September 2015

Sugar report catches up with holistic thinking

The government is set to halve the official recommendation of added sugar in people’s diet following a far-reaching report from scientists linking it to a range of health problems.

The news comes as no surprise to International Macrobiotic School (IMS) founder and author Oliver Cowmeadow, who has been promoting the link between food and health for more than 30 years.

He backed the head of the NHS Simon Stevens who has warned that the government could go as far as to tax sugary drinks if food companies did not cut sugar levels.

“Sugar is at last being made an issue,” said Oliver. “This is phenomenal news. In 1980, Western medicine was telling us there was no link between food and health. Sugar is found in just about everything, from bread to sauces to tinned fish – people are eating sugar even when they don’t know it. This is a welcome turnaround.”

In the Macrobiotic approach to diet, which draws on the philosophy of Oriental medicine, refined sugar is never used as it causes many problems in the body, including weakening the immune system and Lung energy, and increasing the risk of a range of infections and illness, including asthma and skin problems.

“Refined sugar has no nutrients to offer ’ explained Oliver. “In fact it strips nutrients from the body and disturbs the balance of gut flora, leading to an overgrowth of candida and other gut infections.”

In macrobiotic cooking, delicious desserts like the lemon pie pictured are sweetened with grain syrups such as barley malt, rice syrup or amazake which is made from fermented brown rice.

Macrobiotic chef Jon Guest, who has led the school's one-day DELICIOUS DESSERTS COURSE said: “By making a few subtle changes you can still enjoy scrumptious desserts such as sticky toffee pudding and bakewell tart. Moderation is the key, but when a little extravagance is called for, it’s possible to conjure up a little pudding magic.”

The report, from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), which advises Public Health England and other government agencies were concerned about link between a high-sugar diet and conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, especially in children.

The report says that no more than five per cent of daily calories should come from added sugar – about seven teaspoons. Most people actually consume at least twice this limit.

The British Dental Association (BDA) is also backing the report, stressing that tooth decay is the biggest cause of hospital admissions among young children.

Oliver said: “A high sugar intake is particularly worrying in children as it slows up the development of the central nervous system, affecting their awareness and learning, as well as leading to health problems later in life.”