Why do we like unhealthy food so much?

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Couldn’t our biological organisms just prefer the healthy food? It would give us larger chance of survival so genes preferring healthy food should be more popular.

In: Biology

20 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Our bodies don’t know what is healthy versus unhealthy.

Evolution is a long process. Many of the traits and behaviours we have now aren’t “human” behaviours, they’re “mammal” behaviours. You may even hear talk of the “lizard brain”. We have as part of us, the remains of hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Chemical processes which may not make much sense in a human in 2024, but made perfect sense in a small monkey 1.5m years ago. Or in a fish 400m years ago.

Mammals in general tend to prefer high-energy foods over nutrient-dense ones. Foods from which you can extract a lot of energy relatively easily therefore give you an overall competitive advantage compared to someone eating foods which require more effort. Plus, for most of history, food has gone through periods of availability and scarcity. So we have evolved a mechanism which encourages us to eat as much as possible now in order to prepare for an inevitable upcoming scarcity.

Thus, we show a general preference for foods with a higher carbohydrate & fat content, as these will allow for more energy to be extracted. Of course, this has never been a problem. High carb foods usually comes with a lot of nutrients attached. And high-fat foods usually come with a lot of protein attached.

In modern times, what capitalism has managed to do is short-circuit this. Produce food that’s both high in carbohydrate and fat, but low in nutrients. The concentration of energy in this food is way more than you will ever really find in nature, so our brains have no real “guard” against this. All our bodies see is mana from heaven, and we are driven to consume as much as possible.

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