Evolution and Our Love of Sugar
As humans, it seems we are hard-wired to love anything sweet. In fact, we may be able to draw a distinct parallel between our love of sugar and our primitive ancestors.
Was Sweetness Tied to Our Ancestors’ Survival?
According to Daniel Lieberman, the Harvard Biologist who wrote “The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease”, sugar is a very ancient craving. Sugar not only provides needed energy but also enables us to store fat. This may have been necessary for the caveman, but in our abundant modern society, it is more of a hindrance than a help.
Sugar: A Recent Phenomenon
“For millions of years, our cravings and digestive systems were exquisitely balanced because sugar was rare,” says Lieberman. “Apart from honey, most of the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate were no sweeter than a carrot. The invention of farming made starchy foods more abundant, but it wasn’t until very recently that technology made pure sugar bountiful.”
Sugar also stimulates dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the reward and pleasure center in the brain. This may explain what made our ancestors seek out sweeter foods and, consequently, have a better chance for survival. But it also may explain why modern humans have become virtually addicted to it. Today, our sugar consumption is nearly four times what the World Health Organization suggests is a healthy amount.
So, what do we experience as consequences to our current sugar addiction? For one thing, studies have shown that an overconsumption of sugar leads to leptin resistance in lab rats. Leptin is the hormone produced by the body’s fat cells responsible for telling the brain that enough fat has been stored and that we don’t need to eat more. It is often called the satiety hormone.
High sugar consumption can increase the body’s need for insulin. When these levels are high, the body’s sensitivity is reduced. This builds up glucose in the blood and can lead to diabetes. Diabetes currently affects approximately 30 million people in the United States alone and has reached epidemic proportions around the world.
Obesity has increased over the last three decades and now affects approximately 13 percent of the global adult population. What once was merely an adult problem, is now a childhood problem affecting over thirteen million children and adolescents in the United States alone.
The list of public health issues goes on and on when looking at our addiction to sugar. At MiraBurst®, we believe the miracle berry or miracle fruit may hold future promise as a natural sweetener to remedy our current reliance on and overuse of sugar. To learn more about this amazing superfood, visit our website today.