Who doesn’t love to eat sweet foods! The problem is they’re really bad for us, partly by making us gain weight, often rapidly and because all the bugs that might harm us by gaining a foothold in our bodies including viruses like the coronavirus, thrive on sugar. Savvy industry mavens are now seeking to capitalize on our destructive obsession by formulating a form of sugar that is much sweeter than the variety that already exists, which means we’ll need to consume much less to satisfy that unique form of gustatory ecstasy only sugar possesses.
Coming to a candy bar, ice-cream vendor or chocolate chip cookie near you will be sugar impregnated with silica allowing the sucrose from dissolved sugar to rapidly saturate your taste buds delivering a far more intense hit of sweetness. We are also about to be besieged with products infused with a sugar like substance called allulose which is seventy percent as sweet but contains a tenth of the calories. These formulations aren’t without their challenges. For sugar to be singularly satisfying it has to be imbued with a certain number of calories which is probably why chocolate with its blend of sugar and fat hits the spot in such a magical fashion and would probably not be the case for allulose or sugar combined with silica. As much as we might be addicted to a sugar high we might need that added bit of fat to provide the complete experience which would make it difficult to subtract the calories from a product designed to help with weight loss.
Ironically we aren’t even hardwired to crave sugar. Until the 1800s the only sugar we were exposed to was found in milk and fruit. It was only with the advent of the industrial revolution and the birth of processed foods that we started consuming packaged sweetened foods which are now so ubiquitous. Once the obesity epidemic took hold the search has been on for sugar substitutes with stevia being the current healthiest option. Unfortunately we have yet to hit upon the substance which is just as fulfilling without its limitations hence the generation of the above industry. When we consider that all they are going to use sugar substitutes for is to make ice-cream, cakes and chocolates, foods that are hardly health promoting, just as enticing, the solution might be to revisit the healthier eating patterns that were ingrained in our daily habits before the machine age made us more civilised.