Food, Home & Lifestyle, Wellness

Balance Caffeine and Sugar Consumption

Michael Pollan

Lesson time 14:10 min

Michael explores the unique history of coffee and sugar. Learn how these substances affect your body and mind—and manage your consumption to fit your needs.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: The Dawn of Caffine • Your Mind on Caffine • The Sugar Effect


[MUSIC PLAYING] - So in this lesson, we're going to take a look at two very powerful stimulants in our diet-- caffeine, in the form of coffee and tea, and sugar, in the form of everything else, and look at our relationship to these two things. They're both wonderful in their ways but they also can get us into trouble in various ways. So how do we strike a balance with caffeine and with sugar? [MUSIC PLAYING] Let me tell you a little story about what caffeine has done for us over the years. When people started drinking coffee and tea, which happens in Europe in the 1650s, much changed about our civilization. Before caffeine was introduced, the main drug that everybody drank in Europe was alcohol because alcohol was safer to drink than water. Water got you sick. Water was contaminated, and the fermentation process and the alcohol itself would sanitize water. But then coffee and tea come along, and they kind of push alcohol to the side. It became something people had more in the evenings, and people weren't drunk all the time. People noticed a new sobriety coming over Europe. This sobriety allowed for things like the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason to flower and I would argue the Industrial Revolution. Because if people were drinking so much alcohol, they can't operate heavy machinery safely. They can't stay up into an overnight shift. They can't do double entry bookkeeping. All these things were made possible by caffeine. And it broke that cycle of our bodies tied to the cycles of the sun. We were independent of that. We could stay up as long as we needed to. [MUSIC PLAYING] I like coffee. Coffee is probably my favorite drug, or I should say caffeine, which is in coffee, is my favorite drug. When I have that first cup of coffee in the morning, I feel like I'm reassembling myself after the night of drifting ego and falling apart and the kind of shards of self we're left with when we first wake up, and suddenly I kind of re consolidate. I feel sharper. I feel more awake. I feel more myself. And that's a very curious fact that I feel more myself on coffee than off it, and I decided I wanted to write about caffeine because I realized this was a drug that I was very heavily involved with. I was dependent on it. And I was interviewing a scientist who studies caffeine, and he said you can't understand your relationship to a drug until you get off it. You can't write about it. You can't think about it. You're not going to have a clear perspective. So I went cold turkey, and I stayed off caffeine for three months. I gave up all caffeine. So that meant no tea, no coffee, no chocolate. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I just had a very difficult period. I remember that first day really vividly. I just felt off, and it was not a pleasant feeling. I couldn't write on the first couple of days. I couldn't read. I couldn't concentrate for a long time. So it took a week or so, and then gradu...

About the Instructor

For more than 30 years, award-winning journalist Michael Pollan has explored the intersection of humans and nature—including groundbreaking probes of the food we eat. Now the NYT bestselling author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” teaches you how to ditch fad diets and eat with intention. From following the food chain to fixing dinner, learn to make choices that reflect what’s important to you.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Michael Pollan

Acclaimed author Michael Pollan teaches you what he’s spent decades researching: how to eat more ethically, healthfully, and sustainably.

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