Sugar—which often reminds us of sweetness and happiness—has gotten very bad reputation in recent years. So is it true that it is not good for our body? And if it is not good for us, then why do we crave it? Why are we addicted to it? And why is sugar the one substance that can always give us happiness?
To understand, let’s trace our history back to our evolution.
We have evolved from primates that were herbivores—mainly “fructivores” for about 20 million years. We evolved meat and fat-adaptive genes only about 2 million year ago, when we evolved into hominids. We still had this fructose-adaptive gene for about 18 million years before we acquired our meat and fat adaptive genes. Sugar has been part of our genetic diet for millions of years!
This sweetness, this fructose, has given us survival advantage. When our ancient ancestors were faced with “flight or fight” situations for physical survival, the immediate source of energy was sugar. The fructose they consumed from sweet fruits and plants gave their muscles an instant energy reserve to run or to fight. It’s no wonder our brain has evolved to like sweet taste. It’s no wonder our brain has reward center for sugar: sugar has always been part of our “survival instinct kit.”
So how and when did we turn this very sweet relationship into a bitter one? The problem arose when we started to refine and manufacture these amazing sources of energy that nature has wonderfully mixed with fibers for an optimum steady supply of energy.
We pat ourselves on the back for our ingenious ability to manipulate nature’s food, but the reality is that our body is not designed to use refined carbohydrates for optimum health. Glucose is an essential nutrient for our body. If our blood sugar goes below the normal range we may die from it in few minutes. No other nutrient is as vital to our survival as glucose.