- Sweet foods tell your brain there are carbohydrates or glucose in your food. Your brain runs on glucose, so it is hardwired to love sweet flavors. So when you are craving a sweet it’s actually your brain saying it’s starving for glucose. Babies actually prefer sugar water over breast milk.
- Salty foods contain salt, which your body uses to maintain water balance. Water balance is essential for survival, so your brain loves when some (but not too much) salt is added to food.
- Umami signals to your brain that there are amino acids in the food, which means protein. These are the building blocks of all the cells in your body and something we can only get from food.
- Sour food signals the presence of acid and fermentation, which are important to your digestion and gut health.
- And bitter taste, well, that’s a mystery science still hasn’t figured out. Some have hypothesized that a bitter taste indicates the presence of small amounts of toxin that actually strengthen your body, a property called hormesis. But this hasn’t been proven. One thing we know for sure is that many of the healthiest foods––dark leafy greens, chocolate, coffee––have a subtle and pleasant bitter taste.
The point here is that we crave certain foods due to our evolutionary biology, BUT our evolutionary biology isn’t set up to deal with man made things like Mt. Dew or Doritos. So when we feed our cravings with non-natural (foods with more than one ingredient) things we start packing on the body fat and creating lifestyle based diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, some forms of Cancer and more. So next time you get a craving for something sweet realize it’s your brain looking for a glucose hit and give it something natural like apple or carrot instead of a candy or soda.
If you seriously struggle with dietary self control we can help. The ASR nutrition program takes all of the stress out of accomplishing your food goals. Each week we provide shopping lists, recipes and tips to help you accomplish your goals via an app called EatLove. Additionally we are your support system. Our team is here to answer questions and motivate you through times with weekly check-ins and daily thoughts.
Want to learn more? Go here.
Want to nerd out on this topic here is cool articles on sweet receptors and the brains response