Humanity’s Torrid Love Affair with Sugar: A Quick Explanation

Sugar. Ah, the sweet love child of monosaccharide’s attraction. So lovely, you delicious saccharine treat, can’t get enough of you, my sucrose sweet. Reading this, you would think this was the love letter a dewy eyed teenage boy writes to the girl he’ll never have. But believe it or not, it’s also our human body’s relationship with sugar.

According to Daniel. E. Lieberman’s, Evolution’s Sweet Tooth, back when humans were just starting to shed their tree-swinging ways, consuming and craving sugar was an evolutionary adaptation now engrained in our DNA. Sugar allowed early humans to sustain their large brains and reproductive rates by providing energy and adapting the body to covet sugar, store it and utilize it. Sugar was a great source of energy and if found in excess in the body, a great tool for storing fat by quickly converting sugar in the bloodstream into fat, which was essential for early humans whose meals were the result of hunting and foraging.

However, nearly 200,000 years later, after the advent of agriculture and modern technology making sugar an ample commodity, our Stone Age sugar craving bodies have not caught up to the millennial age of GMO’s and overly abundant access to food. So now, when our bodies still believe that honey is a sweet rarity that maybe involved someone running into a beehive and suffering a painful but rewarding experience for all, our bodies have not properly adapted to metabolizing the excess sugar we now consume. Making us as a society, fat. Quite fat. Unsustainably fat.

Whether it’s the marketing of cereals as a healthy start for your day, or found in everything from bread to milk, it appears to be everywhere. Like that stalker your personality always seems to invite. You love it and hate it, but what are you going to do? Avoid it and break its sweet heart? Ultimately, you have to think about sugar as how our Stone Age ancestors’ bodies thought about sugar; as that lovely treat found in the wild from fruits, honey, roots and berries and not cereals, breads, crackers, soda and juices or anything boxed that nature wouldn’t produce in the wild.

So be smart about what you choose for your body’s energy. It is at the mercy of your brain and your brain wants that mercurial lover back-and why wouldn’t it? The vigor and dopamine it got from it was like a Paleolithic drug and most likely humanity’s earliest drug habit, which 200,000 years later has really gotten out of control.

Rehab yourself. Choose fruits and veggies with lower sugar content like avocados, broccoli, kale, leafy greens, tomatoes, mushrooms, radishes, strawberries and raspberries. Avoid processed foods like cereal, breads, sugary drinks, desserts and pretty much anything whose ingredients you cannot pronounce or quickly conjure an image of. Naturally derived sugars are the only sugars your body can truly metabolize, and quite frankly the only ones it needs. Get up and move around. It’s what our bodies are wired to do, walk, burn energy, reproduce and stay alive!

Be good to yourself and your anciently calibrated body will thank you for your patience. It hasn’t caught up yet, and may not do so for a while.

Written by Maria Schumann for bodono.

Maria Schumann is a writer living in NYC.
About Maria Schumann: “I love writing poetry, breaking a sweat at bikram yoga, and reading serial killer books while cooking. I love watching documentaries and I am always game for a crazy night of poker. Understanding the importance of a healthy relationship with my body and mind inspires me to help others come to a symbiotic relationship with their bodies and minds as well. Through writing I am able to reach people with my words and hopefully inspire positivity and change.”