Why we love sweets
From the time we’re born, we are hard-wired to seek out sweet foods for survival – human breast milk has 17 grams of sugar per serving – and as we grow we learn to associate sugar with comfort, says paediatric dentist, Dr Erin Issac.
Eating too much sugar can make you sick, but when you eat it in moderation, sugar offers real mental and physical health benefits. Sugar is a carbohydrate and a quick source of energy for your brain and body. It can also feel soothing and lower stress levels. (There’s a reason so many ‘comfort foods’ are sweet, Dr Issac says.)
Yet we all know some people who seem to crave sweets more than others, even claiming to have a ‘sweet tooth.’
Fact: the sweet tooth is real
There is no such thing as a physical tooth in your mouth that goes rogue and causes you to inhale bags of chocolate. Still, there is evidence that some people have genetic, hormonal and mental factors that make them crave sugar more than others, says dentist, Dr Wesam Shafee. “You’re not crazy if you think you have a sweet tooth,” he says. “We have some scientific evidence that it’s true.”
Dr Issac and Dr Shafee share the scoop on your sugar cravings, busting long-held legends about what it means to have a sweet tooth.
“Your sweet tooth is all in your mind.”
Ever notice it seems like there are two classes of people when it comes to dessert – those who absolutely love it, and those who aren’t sweets eaters? According to a 2018 study published in Cell Reports, the FGF21 gene produces a hormone that can make you more sensitive to insulin fluctuations. This, in turn, makes you seek out sugar more than people without the gene. You can, however, use your mind to help you conquer those sugar cravings.