Toxicity of sugar
|🍲 Food, Addiction, Disease, Health, Public Health
Table of Contents
The link between excessive sugar consumption and its threat to the public health system continues to grow. In 2011, the UN established non-communicable diseases (diabetes, cancer and heart disease) as the major public health burden and the leading cause of death in the world (Lustig, Schmidt & Brindis, 2012). A link exists between the rise of non-communicable diseases and sugar consumption. The availability of sugar over the fifty years resulted in the tripling of sugar consumption worldwide. Unlike 1900’s sugar became cheaper to produce through increased agricultural investment and development (Lustig, Schmidt & Brindis, 2012). Similarly, its accessibility and affordability increased allowing a larger part of the population to engage in sugar consumption. The overeating culture also ensured that individuals consumed more sugar per day than recommended. Presently, the availability of artificial sugars in processed foods further increased the intake of sugar. High-fructose corn syrup, sucrose and fructose became a major part of the diet on a conscious and unconscious level (Lustig, Schmidt & Brindis, 2012). Furthermore, theories of sugar addiction developed due to the inability of people to reduce and resist sugary diets.
The campaign against sugar replaced the campaign against fat to counter the increase in heart diseases, obesity and other non-communicable diseases. Nonetheless, individuals remained unable to rid themselves of sugar. Consequent research indicated that there is a link between sugar and problematic health behavior dubbed sugar addiction. This is evident in the research done on rats, which indicated that they were willing to risk death in order to access chocolate (Kenny, 2013). This paper explores a program with the potential to resolve the toxicity of sugar in human beings. It approaches the issue from a dietary and addiction perspective by focusing on reducing sugar intake to reduce its negative impacts on the public health system.
Goals and Objectives Feasible to Health Intervention Program Addressing the Toxicity of Sugar
A health intervention program for the toxicity of sugar must focus on three main goals
- To Mitigate the toxicity of sugar in the human body
- To Mitigate the addiction of sugar in individuals
- To improve the impact of sugar on the human body
The program should target individuals aged 18 to 35 years who are obese or over weight. The individuals provide a population sample facing high risks of chronic illnesses related to excessive sugar consumption. The program aims at providing healthcare measures and preventative solutions meant for people. It focuses on lifestyle change about food and nutrition. In the program, individuals must provide a comprehensive breakdown of their food consumption prior to joining the program. The individual’s consumption report ensures that the diet provided in the program rectifies the diet errors occurring in the present consumption patterns. The participants must also fill in a questionnaire to establish a baseline for monitoring their progress. The positive or negative outcome will be determined by the monitored factors that include weight loss, insulin levels, and triglyceride levels in the blood. The questionnaire should consist of the following questions
- Are you joining the program to reduce sugar intake and reduce sugar toxicity?
- Are you joining the program to reduce sugar intake for the purpose of lose weight?
- Do you think that you are addicted to sugar?
- Do you think that reducing sugar intake will be beneficial to your overall (mental, emotional and physical) wellness?
Based on the individual’s consumption report, a nutritionist provides an alternative diet for the individual. The diet should reduce the intake of sugar regardless of the calories available in the new diet. The program’s main goal remains reducing the toxicity of sugar. The harmful impacts of sugar on the human body and brain occur regardless of the calories intake (Lustig, Schmidt & Brindis, 2012). Therefore, the program aims to reduce the intake of sugar and observe the outcome of lower sugar consumption among the participants. While engaging in the health program, the individuals must provide comprehensive reports of the diets impacts on a personal, interpersonal and community level. The weekly individual report aims to monitor health behavior on an intrapersonal, interpersonal and community-based level. For instance, if an individual loses weight due to the program, how does an interaction with other individuals and the community affect the results? Do persistent comments about the individual’s improved physical attributes encourage the individual to continue with the sugar reduction program despite his or her sugar addiction? Does interaction with an individual resigned to obesity or sugar addiction encourage or discourage the individual about continuing with the program? The individual report should be provided in a first person account approximately 200 words long, alongside a questionnaire with yes or No option answers. The yes/no questions should entail questions such as
- Do you think that the program has had a positive or beneficial impact on your overall (mental, emotional, physical) wellness?
- Do you feel a general improvement in health and energy since the start of the program?
- Do you feel the need to continue with the program?
- Do you still think or feel addicted to sugar?
The personal comprehensive account of progress along with the questionnaire ensures that the health experts monitor the impact of program on the participants. Consequently, the results of the program become evident. Each of the goals in the program must consist of specific objectives to ensure that the program works for the participants.
Mitigating the toxicity of sugar in the human body
Sugar, often referred to as empty calories, carries minimal nutritional value for the body. Its excessive intake affects the human health through the metabolic syndrome. The Metabolic syndrome encompasses the change or alteration in the body’s biochemical processes, which increases risk factors involved in developing certain diseases. Obesity affects the metabolic syndrome and is linked to high or excessive sugar consumption (Lustig, Schmidt, & Brindis, 2012). Insulin resistance, for instance, results in metabolic syndrome predisposing the individual to diabetes. Insulin resistance occurs when the body takes in more sugar than the insulin produced in the liver can process. Similarly, fructose (a sugar component) can increase blood pressure due to its metabolic impact the levels of uric acid in the body.
An increase in uric acid translates into an increase in blood pressure (Lustig, Schmidt & Brindis, 2012). Sugar also increases the production of fat in the body resulting in high triglycerides, which also predisposes the individual to heart disease and low cholesterol levels. Consequently, these goals should focus on two main objectives for the program to succeed
Reducing the amount of sugar in the participant’s diet:
In order to reduce the participant’s susceptibility to the metabolic syndrome reducing sugar intake must remain a primary objective. Hence, the individual’s susceptibility to chronic and non-communicable diseases decreases. This is achievable by substituting the sugary foods in the participant’s dietary report with healthier diet options.
Wean individuals of artificial sugars:
While natural sugars also have calories, artificial sugars are more harmful due to their saturation in almost every western diet. Artificial sugars in fizzy drinks, frozen foods, sodas, pastries and other products should be eliminated from the diet. The participants must be taught to identify sugar in consumer products. For instance, some products have fructose or sucrose on the manufacture’s label deceiving the consumer of the presence of sugar. Additionally, the participants must break the habit of purchasing and storing fizzy drinks and sodas in the house or at their desk at work.
Mitigating the addiction of sugar to reduce its toxicity in humans
Research on food addiction remains inconclusive (Lerma-Cabrera, Carvajal & Lopez-Legarrea, 2016). However, compulsive or uncontrollable consumption of food and particularly sugar cannot be ruled out. The basis of food addiction mainly remains hinged to two major analytical concepts. To begin with, an addiction diagnosis must fit at least two of the requirements in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Alonso-Alonso et al, 2015). The manual consists of the following symptoms
- Use of larger quantities over increased periods
- Excessive time invested in the acquisition and use of the substance
- Multiple attempts to quit
- Continued indulgence despite adverse effects
Most individuals attempting weight loss or treating obesity attribute their failure to at least two of the outlined factors. For instance, despite being obese an individual may continue to consume sugar despite being informed that they are at a risk of developing insulin resistance (Lerma-Cabrera, Carvajal & Lopez-Legarrea, 2016). The individual might also meet the requirement entailing multiple attempts to quit and the use of larger quantities over a long period. Consequently, food addiction meets the requirements of an addiction. The second analytical framework entails the brain reward system. In the framework, food addiction stems from the constant dopamine released in the body due to the consumption of desired food like sugar (Alonso-Alonso et al, 2015). Alcohol and drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, have a similar impact on the brain and dopamine secretion. Therefore, if the reward system and the DSM-5 indicate a similarity in the effects of food and drugs on the brain, then, food addiction might be a legitimate disorder (Lerma-Cabrera, Carvajal & Lopez-Legarrea, 2016). Consequently, this goal should focus on eradicating food addiction in individuals. The objectives include
Analyze the individual through the DSM-5:
Not every participant has food addiction. Consequently, the DSM-5 will help identify individuals with the affliction. The individuals require more intervention and attention compared to the other participants.
Develop individualized care for each addict:
The participants hail from diverse culture. The factors causing limiting their triumph over the addiction could be intra-personal, interpersonal or community based. Therefore, each food addict requires an individualized behavioral based strategy to overcome sugar addiction.
Improving the Impact of sugar on the Human body
While sugar is an empty calorie, natural sugars from fruits, vegetables, honey and other plants provide beneficial vitamins and minerals to the body. Weaning the participants of the sugar should entail substituting artificial sugars with natural sugars. A sudden removal of sugar from the diet might fail. Furthermore, the vitamins and minerals in natural sugars remain helpful in curtailing the harmful impacts of excessive sugar and fat consumption. Consequently, the objectives of this goal entail
Substituting healthy sugar with artificial sugar:
The participants should keep a chart of the process of elimination and substitution of sugars. Hence, the monitoring process of progress becomes easier.
Controlling the portion of consumption:
The participants, especially the addicts with obesity and other health issues, might over-consume the natural sugars. While natural sugars have vitamins and minerals, they also consist of high calories. Therefore, individuals with the aim of weight loss and calorie minimization must learn and implement portion control for natural sugars and food.
The main limitation relates to the fact that the process relies on the honesty of the participants. The health experts have no prior records of the individuals’ diets. Additionally, the monitoring process also depends on the discipline and honesty of the participants. Therefore, biases are likely to occur.
Importance of Diversity and Multicultural Perspective in Public Health
Diversity and multicultural perspective relate to public health due to their impact on the health of an individual. Cultural competency remains an essential part of the healthcare system. Consequently, it also affects any approach applied in reducing the toxicity of sugar. The program focuses on the population aged between 18 to 30 years. It includes participants from different cultural, ethnic or racial backgrounds. The concept of cultural competency holds that the healthcare provider must provide healthcare services sufficient for an individual despite his or her cultural background (Truong, Paradies & Priest, 2014). Factors such as etiquette, language barrier, religious belief, personal opinion, and general interactions differ from culture to culture and may affect cultural competency in health. Although the concept of cultural competence exists in public health, no preferred or recommended framework exists (Truong, Paradies & Priest, 2014). The benefits of cultural competency in the healthcare system remain inconclusive (Truong, Paradies & Priest, 2014). Nonetheless, the knowledge of cultural diversity among healthcare providers reduced the gap concerning access of care among minority groups.
Concerning the toxicity of sugar, a multicultural perspective is significant due to the impact of culture on an individual’s health. Culture affects the socioeconomic status, dietary preferences of an individual, accessibility to healthy food and genetic response of sugar consumption (Caprio et al, 2008). For instance, some African-American individuals or families living under the low socioeconomic status engage in high- energy foods consisting of high fat and sugar levels. The individuals prefer high- energy foods because of their affordability compared to low- energy foods (fruits and vegetables) with low levels of fat and sugar (Caprio et al, 2008). Additionally, low-income families living in low-income neighborhoods have minimal access to exercise facilities for physical activity and healthy food stores. Therefore, the individuals continue to rely on poor nutrition with high sugar levels that lead to sugar toxicity.
Each culture consists of a preferred cuisine. For instance, Italian cuisine majorly consists of meat, tomatoes and cheese, Indian cuisine involves many herbs, spices, and vegetables, while Hispanic cuisine consists of many maize- flour based delicacies and spicy vegetable salsa. Some cuisines consist of foods with high sugar levels. Collective cooking and dining are a major part of the minority cultures or ethnic groups. Therefore, an individual might struggle with maintain the routing of the outlined program due to the cultural requirement of collective dining. If the cultural cuisine is based on foods high in sugar, the program will also be difficult to implement (Caprio et al, 2008). Therefore, the program must be culturally competent in order to provide beneficial results for all participants. However, individuals in a collectivistic society seem to encounter fewer health problems due to the attention placed on their feelings which helps focus the nutritional needs and elements of feeding. Individuals in individualistic cultures often engage in eating in the absence of hunger or nutritional needs (Caprio et al, 2008). However, many more factors determine the health of individuals in a collectivistic and individualistic culture.
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Factors such as environment, geographic location, environmental and social stressors, and other biological factors affect ethnicity and genetic differences (Caprio et al, 2008). The differences affect the body’s reaction to health and nutrition. Consequently, the program must consider genetic factors in minimizing the toxicity of sugar. The program should contribute to public health by using the data provided by participants to study the impact of sugar on individuals of different races and similar genetic components. As a result, programs to end sugar toxicity in future can be created with up to date information concerning sugar consumption and culturally sensitive solutions concerning genes (Caprio et al, 2008).
The program developed in this paper provides a solution for sugar toxicity, as well as, an opportunity for research on sugar toxicity. Evidently, the toxicity of sugar affects the body’s metabolism, physical, emotional and mental health. As the portion of the population susceptible to non-communicable diseases increases, preventative measures and programs remain essential in avoiding a public health crisis. Further studies should focus on establishing a conclusive link between sugar and food addiction. Moreover, if the program is effective it will form a basis for successful programs focused on inhibiting sugar intake in order to control metabolic syndrome. The program might also provide a platform for culturally sensitive health programs in regard to weight loss and metabolic syndrome prevention.
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- Lerma-Cabrera, J. M., Carvajal, F., & Lopez-Legarrea, P. (2016). Food addiction as a new piece of the obesity framework. Nutrition Journal, 151-5. doi:10.1186/s12937-016-0124-6
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- Truong, M., Paradies, Y., & Priest, N. (2014). Interventions to improve cultural competency in healthcare: a systematic review of reviews. BMC Health Services Research, 14(1), 1-31. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-99