Bad breath can be good for us!

By Annet Nazziwa(Student at Nateete Muslim High School)

Many people in Uganda detest the near pungent smell and taking of garlic, associating them mainly with the Indian and generally Asian communities. I personally know many who would vow to starve if the only option was garlic staffed food!

Health researchers however, have found that people who eat a lot of garlic have a lower chance of getting stomach cancer, suffering from heart disease or getting a stroke than people who eat little or no garlic. Although these findings point to health benefits, from garlic they do not indicate what in garlic causes the benefits. It has been the job of chemists to find out.

The chemistry of garlic is not simple. Garlic contains more than 200 different compounds, many of which change when the cloves are cut or crushed. Cutting or crushing a garlic clove releases enzymes that cause a chain of complex chemical reactions to take place. Some of the products last only a few minutes or a few hours before they change into more stable compounds.

Chemists have focused their attention on the compounds in garlic that contain sulphur. These compounds seem to be garlic’s active ingredients. One of the most important of these is ‘allicin’, a product of the reactions that begin when garlic clove is cut or crushed.

Allicin,which is what gives crushed garlic its strong odor, is easily converted into the more stable sulphur containing compounds “ajoene”and dithin.

Chemists and health researchers have investigated the properties of allicin, ajoene and dithin and their chemical cousins.

One of the properties they all share is their ability to kill microorganisms. In other words, they are antibiotics, namely, they kill stomach bacteria that generate carcinogens. It is through this mechanism that scientists believe that garlic reduces the risk of stomach cancer.

Certain garlic compounds seem to fight cancer in other ways too. In laboratory experiments, the compounds have been shown to reduce the size of tumors in cancer of the colon, lung, skin prostate and breast.

Scientists believe that these sulphur containing compounds somehow interfere with the growth process in cancer cells but have no effect on normal cells. Garlic compounds can also prevent blood clots, which help reduce the chance of stroke. They also affect the digestion and absorption of fats therefore help lower tee level of cholesterol and fat in the blood, which is important in preventing heart disease.

Although garlic’s sulphur containing compounds are responsible for its benefits,theyare also the cause of its major drawbacks. These compounds are broken down in the body into simpler sulphur compounds with potent and unpleasant smells which are exhaled through the lungs to create “garlic breath” as we know it. What better way to draw a parallel from our “pot-snake” proverb?


Why a Nsenene dish would be the best for Christmas

By Lawrence Kaggwa (Student at Nateete Muslim High School)

Also published by New Vision on December 17th 2015

Uganda is blessed with a holiday season that also doubles as the nsenene season, a fact that may not even have crossed the late British Prime Minister Heath‘s mind when he called Uganda the “Pearl of Africa”. Nsenene a delicacy for many Ugandans is only rivaled by legendary red meat, however medical research abound that almost demonizes meat consumption. The commonly cited dangers range from gout to increasing the risk of heart diseases because of its supposedly high cholesterol (bad fat) content. Furthermore, as human population increases our appetite for meat is growing but very soon demand will outstrip supply.

On the other hand, nsenene or in general insect or worm consumption has potential to offer much better dietary benefits, for example, , worms contain a whopping 64% protein.

We use 70% of our farmland for animals. The only way to increase space is deforestation. To get 1 kg of beef a cow needs 10 kg of food. The food that cows eat could feed humans instead. Growing1 kg of meat requires 70 m2 of land while

growing 1 kg of worms requires 25 m2 land, insects reproduce quickly and take up little space. With 10 kg of feed you get 9 kg of cricket meat for example. Processing insects makes less rubbish. You can eat 80% of a cricket, 100% of a worm but only 55% of a cow. Furthermore, Insects can eat waste which we can’t use.

18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from farming animals. These gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are responsible for climate change. The farming of insects produces less carbon dioxide while most species produce no methane at all. Animals produce ammonia in their waste, a pollutant that can enter water supplies. On the other hand, insects don’t produce much ammonia, in particular, grasshoppers produce 10 times less ammonia than pigs and locusts release 0.7 kg CO2 per kg



Farming uses around 70% of worldwide water supplies. A cow drinks a lot of water and you also need to water the plants they eat. Growing 1 kg of meat uses 3000 litres of water conversely, insects need very little water because, they get most of what they need from their food.

Have a great xmas!