By Dean L. Jones, CPM
Back in 2008, a cardiac ultrasound showed severe heart disease for two gorillas who were in their early twenties (average life span is 54 years). These gorillas were living in captivity at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and heart disease was the leading killer for gorillas in North American zoos at that time. To help the gorillas survive, Zoo officials tried human heart drugs, including beta blockers and ACE inhibitors on them, but their respective health did not improve.
In the wild, gorillas and their related species do not develop obesity, diabetes or heart disease. In contrast, Zoo keepers daily fed these captive primates ‘nutritional cookies’ made from grains, starch and processed sugar. A big change came about when animal experts eliminated this starchy, sugary cookie diet and started feeding the gorillas 10-pounds of fresh vegetables a day, including green beans, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, and endive. Also, this high-fiber, low-sugar diet was supplemented with fruits and flaxseeds. This change alone of fresh fruits and vegetables worked to help both gorillas to lower their body weight by 65 pounds each, and more importantly their heart health improved dramatically.
In view of that, as with the gorillas, could eating too much processed sugar be deadly for humans? Humans and gorillas share plenty of similarities, where likewise a poor diet can cause heart disease which is the number one killer of American men and women, claiming 1 in 4 lives each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sodas and other sugary drinks are the main source of added processed sugars, and the CDC seems to believe added sugar may contribute to deadly heart problems. Nevertheless, eating added sugar undeniably increases inflammation, blood pressure and levels of unhealthy cholesterol and triglycerides.
The CDC, Journal of the American Medical Association, American Heart Association and other medical agencies all agree that processed sugar is dangerous to human health. Increasingly, the evidence surrounding the dangers of eating processed sugar is eerily similar to those health dangers disclosed with smoking cigarettes. It took decades to get at the truth, but after punitive lawsuits and creditable scientific evidence, considerably fewer people smoke and contract lung cancer.
Speaking of cigarettes, the CVS Caremark Company recently announced its decision to discontinue selling all tobacco products at its more than 7,600 drugstores. Even though CVS states this offers a better environment for their customers, it also reflects the times that people have stopped mass consumption of tobacco products, thereby minimizing the profit motive to carry and stock it on valuable shelf space. Conscientiously, since fewer tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease occurrences are contributing to lower health care costs, then surely CVS should recognize the dangers of eating processed sugary-filled beverages and foodstuff, whereas by not carrying such items CVS could become a dominant health-conscious enterprise.
Dean Jones, Ethics Advocate, Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), contributes his view on consuming various unwholesome packaged foods and beverages.