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Introduction

Sugar is an organic compound also known as sucrose. It is a white powder which is crystalline and odorless. It is used for human nutrition because of its sweet taste. It is made up of disaccharide molecules which are got from fructose and glucose (Halfrisch et al 740). Excessive sugar consumption can result into health risks such as cancer, damaging the immune system and affecting one's mental health. All these defects are caused by the components of sugar and the processes applied in preparing refined sugar.  This paper seeks to critically analyze the adverse consequences of sugar consumption to human health while putting special emphasis on the components of sugar and how they contribute to these defects.

According to research, averagely an individual an individual consumes two to three pounds of sugar per week. This is due to the fact that refined sugars which are in form of fructose, sucrose and corn syrup are being incorporated in preparing processed foods such as butter, breakfast cereals, spaghetti and ketchup.  Statistics indicate that in the last 20 years America's sugar consumption has surged up from 26 pounds to 135ibs per person annually. Previously (1887-90) this rate was 5ibs per person and diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease were a rare occurrence.  According to the glycemic index which functions to measure how particular foods impact blood glucose levels whereby each food is given a number rating show that the lower the rating the slower the digestion and absorption process. When the rating is low, it enhances gradual infusion of sugars into the blood stream which is regarded as being healthier. When the rating is high, blood glucose level increases very fast hence stimulating the pancreas to produce insulin so as help regulate sugar levels. Such rapid fluctuations of sugar levels impose more stress on the body hence they are not healthy (Halfrisch et al 743).

Sugar causes suppression in the Immune System

One of the negative impacts that come along with sugar consumption is that it increases insulin levels hence inhibiting growth of hormones (Moynihan 2005). This inhibition suppresses the immune system. Sugar influx into the blood stream also affects the body's sugar balance which in turn accelerates release of insulin which the body could have otherwise used to maintain the constant and safe level of blood sugar. Insulin also plays a critical role in fat storage in such a manner that when takes in food with high sugar levels, triglyceride levels are elevated and body weight is also experienced. These two characteristics are associated with cardiovascular disease because complex carbohydrates are now absorbed at a slow rate weakening the impacts of blood sugar levels.

In 1970's scientific scholars noted that white blood cells also needed vitamin C in order to aid them fight bacterial and viruses. For white cells to function appropriately, they require 50 times high concentration of vitamin C both inside and outside the cells. When sugar levels are high in the blood stream both vitamin c and glucose compete upon entering the cells due to the fact that they have same structural composition. Also the chemical that facilitates entry of vitamin C into the cells is the same chemical that facilitates entry of glucose into the cells. This implies the fact that if there is more glucose accumulated around the white cells than the entry of vitamin C into the cells is also limited.

According to Moynihan (2005) a blood sugar with value of 120 is bound to minimize the phagocyte index by 75%. A phagocyte index is the index that is used to rate the level of vitamin C in the white blood cells and how they contribute to fighting bacteria and viruses (Kies). Therefore sugar may have grave impacts in one's immune system by competently weakening it. When the immune system is weakened, the body becomes more prone to diseases as the white blood cells are not in a position to appropriately fight foreign diseases and bacteria. Therefore it is crucial that one observes the level of sugar intake by taking recommended levels and avoiding foods with high quantities of sugar.

Sugar Contributes to Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is inarguably one of the prominent health hazards linked to increased sugar consumption. Bacterial such as Streptococcus Mutans inhibit the dental plaque so as to metabolize any sugars such as glucose, fructose, lactose and starch hence changing them into lactic acid. High concentration of lactic acids on the tooth's surface culminates into tooth demineralization. According to Kies (1992) dental plaque bacterial converts all the six carbon sugars and disaccharides into an acid that demineralizes the teeth.  For instance sucrose is changed into dextran by the streptococcus mutans. This dextan helps the bacterial glue itself to the tooth and it becomes very difficult getting these bacteria out of the teeth. Dextran also acts as a source which supplies food to the bacteria. Therefore it is important that consumption of sugar should be limited or managed within the levels recommended by physicians (Halfrisch et al 749).

According to the United Nations Health Organization reports of 2004, gum diseases, tooth decay and other diseases associated with teeth decay are dominant in industrialized countries and also on the increase in developing countries due to the fact that global sugar consumption is rapidly increasing. The report also indicates that tooth day affects 80 to 90 percent of school going children in developed countries due to the fact that they take a lot of sugary foods. The report predicts that with the increasing changes in people's lifestyles which necessitate more consumption of sugary foods, especially in many African countries, dental problems are likely to surge up in the next decade. The report also indicated that globally, children who are detected with gingivitis normally have a habit of high sugar consumption. Apparently, sugar consumption is pivotal to most tooth decay and therefore individuals should avoid frequent consumption of sugary foods.

Sugar Feeds Cancer

Professor German Otto Warburg discovered in 1942 that cancer calls contain an energy metabolism which is different from other health cells (Halfrisch 1983). He asserted that malignant tumors normally show an increased anaerobic glycolysis.  Anaerobic glycolysis is a process by which cancer cells use both glucose as a fuel and lactic acid as an anaerobic product. Large amounts of lactic acid are produced by this fermentation of glucose which occurs in cancer cells and are then transported to the liver. These conversions of glucose to lactic acid helps generate more cancerous tissues which are more acidic by giving way for a lower pH.  Also accumulation of lactic acid results into physical fatigue. This implies the fact that larger tumors are likely to result into a more acidic pH. 

The acidic pH results into energy metabolisms which yield two moles of adenosine triphosphate energy per one mole of glucose when compared to 38 moles of adenosine triphosphate in the whole process of aerobic glucose oxidation. By extracting only 5 % of the whole energy available in the body's calorie stores and food supply cancer cells waste energy resulting into the patient becoming tired. Continuous repetition of this process results into the patient loosing weight. This is the reason behind cancer patients dying from malnutrition. According to Rodger (1995) cancer therapies should also include blood glucose regulation processes through medication, exercise and diet. Also research carried out in Netherlands; indicate that regulating levels of sugar intake is the pivotal in curbing breast tumors.

10 healthy people were accessed for fasting glucose levels.  The phagocytic index of neutrophils which is used to measure the ability of immune cells to envelope and destroy foreign invaders such as cancer was also measured.  It was realized that high levels of carbohydrate intake such as honey, sucrose and glucose substantially increased the capacity of neutrophils to fight bacteria while starch did not have these effects. A conclusion was made that higher cancer risks are associated with intake of sugars. Also epidemiological studies in 21 modernized countries have shown that increased sugar consumption is a strong risk that is associated with high degrees of breast cancer rates in women (Halfrisch et al 748).

Sugar is also associated with a lot of diseases

Role of sugar in enhancing Diabetes

Diseases such as diabetes, hypoglycemia and gallstones are associated with high levels of sugar intake. Diabetes is caused due to failure of the pancreas to produce enough insulin when the blood sugar levels surge up. The failure to produce insulin results from increased sugar levels that attack the cells producing insulin resulting into the body's cells exhibiting an impaired response to insulin. When insulin is unable to regulate sugar blood levels, glucose piles up in the blood stream resulting into cells being starved of energy due to the fact that they do not have access to glucose. It also results into increased acidity in blood which culminates into damages being caused in body organs such as kidneys, eyes, and the heart. This concentrated amount of sugar which is introduced into the blood system sends the body into a shock resulting into the body's failure to curb diabetes. 

According to a research carried out by Sheri Colberg-Ochs, a science professor in the University of Old Dominion in Norfolk, complete regulation of sugar intake in diabetic patients encompassed with regular is bound to help improve their health conditions (MacDonald 2008). In her research, Dr. Sheri compared two diabetic patients one with diabetic one and the other with diabetic two in regards with their sugar intake levels. She noted that regardless of the type of diabetes, when each patient increased sugar intake through the sort of foods that they were taking, the general body was exposed to a physical shock reflected by fatigue. This clearly indicates the effect of sugar in diabetic persons.

Also when the pancreas reacts into the large amounts of sugar in the body by producing a lot of insulin, it results into Hypoglycemia which leaves the patient tied because the sugar level becomes more reduced than it ought to be (Rodger 267).

The effect of sugar in obesity

According to statistics from the National Health and Examination Survey, while the United States population works hard to decrease that intake of fatty foods obesity is still surging up (Rodger 1984). This implies the fact that obesity is directly related to the levels of sugar intake than fat consumption. Statistics from the report are summarized in the table below based on the various propositions of energy intake from diverse sources of food in adults between 20 to 74 years old. The study carried out concluded that there is a clear link between lvelas of sugar consumption and body mass index.

Year

Sex

Carbohydrate

Fat

Protein

Obesity

1971

Male

42.4%

36.9%

16.5%

12.1%

1971

Female

45.4%

36.1%

16.9%

16.6%

2000

Male

49.0%

32.8%

15.5%

27.7%

2000

Female

51.6%

32.8%

15.1%

34.0%

 






The effect of sugar in the neurological process

Glutamic acid which is mostly found in vegetables is pivotal to accurate functioning of the brain. When increased sugar is absorbed into the blood stream, the bacteria found in the intestines which manufactures vitamin B becomes complex while it begins to die (Moynihan 2005). This results into vitamin B levels declining, when this happens, the glutamic acid which is normally converted into 'go' and 'no-go' enzymes by vitamin B  is not manufactured. This results into one feeling sleepy. It also hinders efficient functioning of short-term memory and other numerical calculative capabilities (McDonald 1351).  Elimination of vitamin B during food manufacturing processes worsens the situation.

Other effects resulting from increased sugar intake (Kies 42)

According to Dr. Nancy Appleton who is a nutritionist, increased consumption of sugar results into high concentration of uric acid (Kies 1992). She explains that after increased sugar intake some significant change is realized in the levels of uric acid in the urine.  This increase of uric acid may be a symptom signifying a heart disease. She also asserts that more fructose ingestion inn human beings can result into increased blood lactic acid more so in patients with a history of acidotic conditions such as uremia and diabetes. Increased elevations can result into diabetic acidosis which can cause death  (Kies 1992).

Excessive consumption of sugar can also result into malabsorption. When mere fructose is absorbed into the liver for conversion into fatty acids, when there is excessive glucose intake, the liver is unable to convert all the fructose into fatty acids. This results into malabsorption whereby the portion that is not absorbed is eliminated to the urine resulting to diarrhea. A study carried out in 25 patients with functional bowel disease in Parklands hospital Texas, revealed that gastrointestinal distress was  resulting from malabsorption of little amounts of  fructose (Fields 530).

According to research Gout is also triggered by high uric acid levels which come as a result of increased sugar consumption. Taking diets with rich sucrose may result into gout due to the fact that such diets increase levels of insulin preventing execration of uric acids from the body. Therefore, as the concentration of uric acid in the body continues to increase, so continues the concentration of this same acid in the joint liquid until it reaches some critical condition where by it begins to precipitate forming crystals resulting to gout (Moynihan 696).

Sugar side effects can also result into glycation which accelerates skin ageing. Glycation occurs when glucose in the bloodstream is attached to proteins leading to formation of harmful molecules referred to as AGEs (McDonald 1378).  According to Dr. Brandt Fredric, who is a dermatologist and author of the book 10 minutes 10 years the more sugar one takes the more AGEs that form (McDonald 1389).  He asserts that these AGEs damage the elastic skin fibers and collagen which play a critical role in keeping the skin firm. When collagen and skin fibers are damaged, they become too brittle and dry resulting to wrinkled and sagging skin (Rodger 291).

As analyzed above, increased sugar consumption can result into severe health defects ranging from brain functioning to Gout. It is therefore crucial for one to necessary precautions which include limiting sugar intake in beverages and processed foods so as to avoid falling prey of this sugar consumption negative effects.  Also food processing industry has a task of limiting sugar in their manufacturing processes to help curb these negative impacts. According to the World Health Organization, in order to regulate the side effects that accrue from sugar consumption, all disaccharides and monosaccharide added to food during processing by manufacturers should only account for 10 or less percentage of the total energy intake in any health diet (Rodger 293).

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