Science of the Sweet Tooth

Sugar — It’s an evil culprit. With links to diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer, stroke and other chronic illnesses, you would think it comes with a warning label. Still, as a nation, we consume was too much sugar. The average person takes in 22 added teaspoons - 88g- of sugar DAILY. That’s nearly double the limit proposed in the new federal dietary guidelines. 

So why do we crave it? It turns out that our sweet tooth is a behavioral trait that dates back millions of years. Back in our primitive hunter-gatherer days, a saccharine craving was a good thing. It’s what propelled our ancient ancestors to seek fruit when they were ripest. “Sugar consumption stimulates the hormone insulin, and changes the array of bacteria that live in the gut, both of which signal our bodies to make and store fat. They tell the body winter is coming and to get ready because calories are going to be scarce,” explains David Perlmutter, M.D.

Over time, we've just traded a snickers bar for a juicy apple. “Sweet and fatty foods are our two main desires. If you choose to eat more healthy fats, you’ll crave sweets less,” notes Perlmutter. He recommends eating cheese, chocolate (85 percent cacao or more), nuts and seeds, olive oil, grass-fed beef, butter and eggs. 

Run away from artificial sweeteners. Just because it says “zero calories” doesn’t mean there aren’t health risks involved. Fake sweeteners can be worse than sugar. Natural is always better, so if you really need something sweet, opt for something unprocessed.