Craving for bad food? It all goes back to Agricultural Revolution

Picture credits: The Atlantic

Imagine I am holding a powdered-sugar doughnut right in front of you. It is very delicious, no doubt!! Now tell me, would you be able to control yourself from eating it; at least a bite of it? If we are both being honest then I can openly say- NO!! Yes, a big NO…

Why do we crave for sugar and carbs  so much? Why they seems so delicious and tasty to us? Why is it so hard to resist ourselves from eating deserts or doughnuts or ice creams or rice or even having drinks filled with sugar?

It all goes back to our ancestors. It all goes back to millions of years ago.

We are living in a modern world that is suffering from an obesity epidemic. According to CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) in the year 2015-16, approximately 40% of adults aged 20 and over were obese. In other words, they were suffering from obesity. The fundamental reason behind obesity is a long-term energy imbalance. By energy imbalance it means that people are consuming more calories while burning lesser and lesser amount of it over a period of time. Sadly, consuming too much sugar is one of the biggest causes of energy imbalance among children and an adult population.

Something that went wrong in history

Not just us- Homo Sapiens– but other human species including Homo Erectus, Homo Neanderthals, Homo Ergaster survived by gathering plants and hunting wild animals. By plucking wild gigs and hunting wild sheep they managed to survive for millions of years.

But things changed about 10,000 years ago when Agricultural revolution began. From hunting and gathering our ancestors began diverting their time to sowing seeds, watering plants, plucking weeds, etc.  Domestication of plants and animals became common. Wheat, rice, maize, potatoes became the main plant crops that provided majority of calories to Sapiens. And this was the turning point- consuming handful of plant species like wheat, potatoes, maize and rice which were not doing a lot good to the bodies of Sapiens. These plants species were the main culprit. Too much carbohydrates!!

Then v/s now

Although it is true that the beginning of bad diet began during the agricultural revolution, the story doesn’t end here. When Sapiens were hunter-gatherers they needed a lot of energy to look for food that required many longer hours. And whenever they found any sweet fruits they used to consume them as much as they could because food was not guaranteed to be found after covering some distance. Even as farmers they were required to do a lot of work including clearing fields, weeding under the scorching sun, building fences, watering plants, etc. And their bodies were not evolved yet to manage so much of work. So, it was natural to consume more and more calories. Carbohydrates and sugar helped them in the process.

Story of the modern world is a lot different.

Our ancestors had some very genuine and good reasons to consume carbs and sugar in large quantities. We don’t. And there are reasons for it too.

Carbohydrates are not all bad and we do need them to survive every day. Such carbohydrates are called good carbohydrates/complex carbohydrates and they include whole grains, vegetables and fruits. We also need natural sugar that comes along with many fruits and other food items. The real problem comes with refined carbohydrates including sugar that causes a sudden spike in our glucose level making us feel all energized only to find out that very soon we are hungry again. Refined carbohydrates are equivalent to “empty calories” and are affecting our health badly; very badly. Our bad diet is one of the biggest reasons why we are seeing so many people suffering from Type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc.

Solution?

There are two best solutions to the health epidemic that we are facing in the 21st century at an alarming stage:

  1. Restoring our diet
  2. Physical activity

Food industries are not helping us. They are not our friends. They are our enemies making every way possible to ruin our bodies. That is why our health is in our hands. Moreover, governments are also needed to stop being on the side of food industries and start making some stringent policies to ensure good health of its citizens. It is completely irrelevant to blame our ancestors- what had happened throughout millions of years is of no significance right now because we can’t go back and change it all. Evolution doesn’t care about our resentment. But after having all the facts right in front of us and still turning a deaf ear is no wise.  

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