By Tracie Aylmer
Recently I had an interesting conversation with a friend about fruit juice in the major shopping chains. He suggested that there should be fruit stalls for which fruit bought instore could be juiced for a nominal amount. This would reduce the amount of sugar (which is in most packaged fruit juices) and thus be a far more healthier alternative.
It’s a fantastic idea. I wish it could come to fruition.
However, the reality is that these major shopping chains most likely won’t take up the idea. They would probably prefer for sugar – known for its addictive qualities – to remain in fruit juices. And big sellers can provide good profits.
The conversation then turned to sugar. My friend told me that the highest selling product in the major shopping chains was Coca Cola: a product well-known for its sugar content.
Many years ago, I worked on a contract basis for Coca Cola. It is public knowledge the amount of sugar that goes into the products made by Coca Cola. Where I worked, one would just have to hang around on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday. On Mondays and Wednesdays a sugar truck as large as an oil tanker offloaded the sugar at the factory. On Fridays, it would be one half the size of an oil tanker.
There has been some talk about sugar the past couple of years. Parliament started talking about finding ways to reduce sugar intake by taxing sugar. For many, it sounded like (and still sounds like) a good idea.
While many know and understand the health risks of sugared products, less is known about the effects of sugar on mental health. Large corporations do not care about the health of their consumers. If they did, they wouldn’t be in business.
What are the health effects on excessive amount of sugar in the diet? An examination of medical and mental health effects become necessary.
Research has noted a number of detrimental effects on quality of life. Some conditions include heart conditions, increased weight gain, diabetes, and tooth decay to name a few. Research that has been conducted over a 15 year period has noted that even a 10% increase in added sugars can increase conditions such as heart disease even with someone who doesn’t appear overweight.
Mental health effects
Not much is noted in today’s media about the psychological effects of increased sugar in one’s diet. It must be confronting to know that one’s diet can cause the types of health effects that could put someone into deep emotional trouble. However, this is exactly what happens.
Added sugar in the diet can cause an increase in anxiety and depression. Sugar is so utterly addictive that it can cause withdrawal symptoms to leave it cold turkey. Turning off added sugar products can cause intense pain for many trying it. Mood swings can happen.
In order for us to counteract the detrimental effects of high sugar products there would need to be education surrounding those products. Of course, many people swear off it, but with the high intake of sugar, it’s obvious that most people simply can’t. Weaning someone off Coca Cola would be like weaning someone off Ice (although Coca Cola is much cheaper and much more readily available, and of course legal). Also, corporations like Coca Cola would prefer to keep people within this status quo. The health of the consumer will never be their concern. Their own profits are their only concern, so pushing the product into the market and advertising the product will be their only agenda. It’s the same with all high sugar products.
The media is, of course, no help at all. Trying to explain to the general population that their high sugar intake – and their love of Coca Cola – is killing them, can be quite difficult.
For me, I have noticed at least two people who used to be in my life that were addicted to Coca Cola. Both had depression. Neither could stop drinking it. Both had medical issues. Both behaved in a similar manner towards the product. They had to buy it, no matter what.
Here the government has a ‘war on drugs’, or ‘terrorist’, or whatever. If they actually wanted a war, perhaps they should be serious about their sugar tax, or whatever other objective they could find in order to reduce sugar intake with our population. As I see it, the corporations are too massive for the government to actually try anything seriously.
We therefore have a major problem. If only the supermarkets were willing to listen to my friend. He could be one of many able to find a solution.
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