Archive for July 8th, 2011

Just when you thought you were helping the body by substituting artificial sweeteners for sugars, along comes evidence to the contrary.

A 2006 study found that substituting aspartame sweetened products for sugar-based ones resulted in weight loss of nearly a half-pound per week. Food Insight (July/August 2008) reported that “low-calorie sweeteners can be effective for weight management.” But a Purdue University study that same year found that saccharin led to increased appetite and weight gain in rats.

Two recent studies indicate diet colas may increase problems we don’t want. A Texas study of subjects aged 65 to 74 found that over nearly a decade, those who drank diet colas had a seventy percent greater increase in waist size than those who avoided artificially sweetened drinks. When consumption increased to two or more diet colas per day, waist circumference increased 500 percent or five times that of their non-diet drinking friends. Over a span of seven to eight years, diet colas significantly increased the chance of becoming overweight.

How could this be? According to researchers, you can fool the sense of taste, but you can’t fool the brain. Artificial sweeteners confuse the body’s ability to tell when you are full and may trigger appetite. They may also damage brain cells and inhibit feelings of fullness.

A 2004 position paper in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Vol. 104:2), reported “Nonnutritive sweeteners do not affect glycemic response and can be safely used by those with diabetes.”  Now recent studies refute those findings. The sweet taste of artificial sweeteners may cause the body to produce insulin which blocks the body’s ability to burn fat. Mice fed aspartame in their food for three months had higher blood sugar levels than mice that ate regular food. Other studies have linked diet colas to increased incidences of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

What should you do? Like all foods, moderation is the key. Beverages such as unsweetened juice, low-fat milk, or plain ol’ water may be wiser choices. Diet colas contain no nutritive value, and now studies find they may cause harm. Limiting the amount you drink can decrease concerns about the impact of diet colas on health and whether they help your figure or make you fat.






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