The dreaded “sweet tooth”: Cockroaches have figured it out!

As a Food Network addict, I have seen quite a few episodes of Restaurant Impossible — including one that focused on a restaurant in which the kitchen was infested with cockroaches — so much so that the kitchen was shut down during the restaurant’s sample service for Chef Robert Irvine. Exterminators had to be brought in, and the entire place had to be sprayed — which delayed the builders and designers, cut the budget by thousands of dollars, and nearly cause Irvine to declare “Restaurant Impossible” for real.

But can something be learned from these hated insects?

DISCLAIMER: I, in no way, claim to be a scientist! In fact, I will fully admit I have a lot to learn.

An Associated Press article published on May 23rd of 2013 suggests SOME cockroaches may have developed an aversion to “sweet” glucose-based bait.

cockroaches

The article references a Florida test kitchen, in which researchers tested bait for cockroaches, and determined that over time, some of the cockroaches would avoid corn syrup meant to attract them.

These researchers were mystified when after just five years, the sweet bait was rendered useless.

Researchers say this is a result of an evolutionary process in which over time, cockroaches suffered genetic mutations — meant to give some roaches a competitive advantage that enabled them to survive and multiply.

Thus, the cockroaches developed neurons for both the “sweet” and “yuck” sensations — allowing them to make a deliberate decision to avoid the bait containing glucose because they learned it does not taste good.

Researchers found the glucose-hating roaches in seven of 19 populations they sampled, but say nowadays, roaches will eat most types of bait — suggesting that manufacturers have removed the glucose or masked it.

In other words, the researchers modified the bait due to accommodate the genetic modifications within the cockroaches.

In my opinion, humans are the cockroaches, and food corporations/food marketers are offering us “glucose bait,” and when we try to avoid it, a new “glucose bait” is created: i.e. “Frankenfoods,” or “food-like products.”

This is also a good example of the workings of drug companies. So-called “super bugs” — the kind that are resistant to antibiotics are becoming more common. So, scientists modify the antibiotics in order to treat the pathogen causing the infection.

But how long until the antibiotics simply stop working altogether? Will a human-lifespan then become a survival-of-the-fittest type competition akin to that of a cockroach?

Additionally, the same sort of evolution seen in the cockroach case can be seen when looking at the evolution of food among humans. We know what is good for us, but like cigarettes, sugar is a drug. It manipulates your brain, provides your brain stimulation and satisfaction for a short period of time, and then you crave more.

Can we, like the cockroaches, turn off that addiction for good? Is it just a matter of time before we learn what is slowly killing us, and adapt?

It is all about putting fuel into your body that will help your body perform to the best of its ability. The best simile is considering your body as a vehicle. It is what carries you through life.

If money wasn’t an issue, you’d likely choose the most premium gasoline for your vehicle — in order to fuel it well in the short-term, but also to fuel it well to serve you in the long-term.

Putting garbage fuel into your vehicle may not necessarily cause any short-term problems, but it is likely that without regular maintenance (taking the car to the doctor) and putting money into your car, it will cause you problems in the long-term.

The same can be said about the body.

The cockroaches ate the sugary bait and then died. Maybe, they used their tiny brains to learn that “sweet” = death, and avoided the sweet bait in an attempt to avoid death.

I definitely think there is something to be learned from these tiny, hated insects.

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