Dr. Johnson on “An Evolutionary Explanation For Why We Crave Sugar”

Apr 26, 2014  |  Post by: Comments Off on Dr. Johnson on “An Evolutionary Explanation For Why We Crave Sugar”

An Evolutionary Explanation For Why We Crave Sugar


An Evolutionary Explanation For Why We Crave Sugar

APR. 25, 2014, 10:01 AM 2,462

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BI Answers: Why do humans love sugar?

We can blame our sweet tooth on our primate ancestors.

Millions and millions of years ago, apes survived on sugar-rich fruit. These animals evolved to like riper fruit because it had a higher sugar content than unripe fruit and therefore supplied more energy.

“Sugar is a deep, deep ancient craving,” said Daniel Lieberman, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University and author of “The Story the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease.”

And sugar offers more than just energy — it helps us store fat, too.

When we eat table sugar, our bodies break this down into glucose and fructose. Importantly, fructose appears to activate processes in your body that make you want to hold on to fat, explains Richard Johnson, a professor in the department of medicine at the University of Colorado and author of “The Sugar Fix.” At a time when food was scarce and meals inconsistent — hunting is significantly less reliable than a drive-through — hanging on to fat was an advantage, not a health risk.

In a forthcoming paper, Johnson postulates that our earliest ancestors went through a period of significant starvation 15 million years ago in a time of global cooling. “During that time,” he said, “a mutation occurred” that increased the apelike creatures’ sensitivity to fructose so that even small amounts were stored as fat. This adaptation was a survival mechanism: Eat fructose and decrease the likelihood you will starve to death.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/evolutionary-reason-we-love-sugar-2014-4#ixzz30115w0Hl

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/evolutionary-reason-we-love-sugar-2014-4#ixzz3010nflRY

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