we need sugar to live, it is responsible for a lot of the energy our body produces.
It’s a matter of how much activity from different sorts of taste buds the brain labels as a good thing.
When our taste buds developed, some way back in our evolutionary history, there would not have been any problems with obesity, acquired diabetes, etc. Sweetness in nature means sugar (fructose, glucose, sucrose), sugar means ready-to-use energy, which is pretty much always good. If you are choosing between two types of plant to eat, going for the sugary one is a big advantage.
People do seek out salty foods (in the West, everyone eats more than is recommended as it’s added to everything for taste). Salt (sodium chloride) is a very useful chemical as sodium ions are crucial in making nerves work. People don’t enjoy eating pure salt presumably because although eg heart disease might not have been a problem for our ancestors, it’s not that hard to kill yourself immediately with salt if you don’t know when to stop – especially if you live near the sea.
Bitterness mostly acts as a warning sign for decomposition and the presence of toxins in food. Humans have adapted to be able to enjoy a certain amount, but it’s usually a reason to be suspicious of a food. I’ve heard children are hypersensitive to bitterness, perhaps because it’s best for them to be extra wary of things which might be toxic, and this is why they are so suspicious of vegetables, never mind coffee.
‘Umami’ is supposed to help you with your protein needs, obviously.
Texture is also important of course, which helps us seek out fatty foods. (Fat, like sugar, was good news as an energy source.) Even if your nose and taste buds stopped working completely, you might still not be that keen on mud.
I don’t know about ‘tastes’ that aren’t in taste buds (ie those more closely connected to smell). It may be that we have a whole range of indicators for freshness/nutrition/edibility and that these various smells/flavours set them off.
Humans are particularly good at enjoying a range of tastes though – chilli and mint probably evolved their temperature-related flavours to put animals off eating them.
Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public [7/2009] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 16717]More UCTV videos about sugar: http://www.uctv.tv/sugar
Dr. Lustig’s book (comes out Dec 27, 2012), “Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease”: http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Chance-Beat…
“Death by sugar” is not an overstatement…
Evidence is mounting that sugar is the primary factor causing not just obesity, but also chronic and lethal disease.
There’s really no doubt anymore that excess sugar can be toxic to your body, and it’s only a matter of time before it will be commonly accepted as a causative factor of most cancers, in the same way as we accept that smoking and alcohol abuse are direct causes of lung cancer and cirrhosis of the liver.
Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, is one of the leading experts on childhood obesity, and has been a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism.
His work has highlighted the major differences in how different sugars are broken down and used by the human body.
If you haven’t already seen it, I would strongly encourage you to watch Dr. Lustig’s lecture featured above.
He’s a very compelling lecturer and you will learn loads, particularly about how fructose is ruining your health biochemically.
People Are Really Waking Up to the Dangers of Sugar
His lecture, which was posted on YouTube in July 2009, went viral and has received more than 2.2 million views so far.
Many of those views are no doubt due to this newsletter, as my two previous articles on Dr. Lustig’s work: “Sugar May Be Bad, But This Sweetener is Far More Deadly”, and “This Common Food Ingredient Can Really Mess Up Your Metabolism” alone have well over one million views. People are watching the lecture at the rate of 50,000 a month, even though it’s 90 minutes long, The New York Times reports.i Calling sugar a “toxin” or a “poison” 13 times, and referring to it as “evil” five times, Robert Lustig explains that the dangers of sugar apply to all forms of it, whether it’s the white granulated stuff – commonly known as sucrose – or high fructose corn syrup.
And his stance has nothing to do with calories, according to the NYT:
“It’s a poison by itself,” Dr. Lustig says.