Diet soda makes you fat?
Updated: Apr 25
I will never stop posting about the dangers of artificial sweeteners. These lab made products belong in the lab, not in your food.
Artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Sweet'N Low and Equal desensitize the taste buds, by providing a sweet taste without the calories. They trick your taste buds and NOT your brain.
1/3 of Americans will be obese by 2050 and almost 36% of Americans are currently obese. As a dietician in training, this is a HUGE issue for me, and one that needs an immediate attention and intervention.
More and more people will die of metabolic syndrome and heart related problems, chronic disease that CAN BE prevented, yet do not do anything to solve their health issues, nor show any interests. Most people are not interested to change, because there is a lack of eduction, one that celebrates and advocates unhealthy eating.
Many studies have confirmed the link between artificial sweeteners and obesity,cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease and Alzheimers disease, however in this post I would like to focus on WHY rather HOW.
Why do you eat more when you drink diet soda?
As research delves deeper into this topic, scientists are learning new and interesting pathways that take place between the brain and the taste buds as a person consumes lab made ingredients such as these artificial sweeteners. One thing for sure is that the human design is an intelligent one, and no organ can be fooled! Our tongue's taste receptors communicate with the brain all the time, and when they do not recognize an element, because hmm, it's....fake, they substitute one "sweet" taste for another. Our taste buds know the real deal, and when they get fooled into consuming sugar, they compensate for other ways to get that sugar. This means you'll eat more pasta, more rice, more fried foods, to get your real sugar conversion. Who is getting the last laugh now huh?
The moment sugar touches our taste buds, a complex yet extremely fascinating cascade of events takes place. This cascade involves memory, learning, and reward system.
These cells (in your taste buds), carry information to the brain via the cranial nerve. They constantly communicate with the brain, as in "this is sweet = yummy = happy".
Neurons within the midbrain participate in the food reward system. Think of this, as positive behavior. You do good at school, so you get good grades, then you treat yourself to that cute pairs of shoes you wanted, because you damn earned that grade! Go you! YAY!
Our body is no different believe it or not. Our body's food reward system plays a big role on how we eat, or why we stop eating.
Have you ever craved pizza so bad, and as you bite into that first hungry bite, you automatically feel a sense of safety, happiness and content? How about a piece of cake? "OMG, I am just going to have one piece" then as you take your very first bite, you feel there is a party in your mouth!? So what is happening as you come to a moment of bliss?
In that first bite, Dopamine (the good hormone) is released in the brain's reward system pathway, and that party-in-the-mouth feeling, is basically this dopamine being released. Eventually after dopamine, leptin is secreted and released (in charge for controlling appetite), which tells you to stop eating, OR tells you that the food is no longer "tasty". This is why the first bite is always more tasty!
But what about biting into a cupcake made of artificial sweeteners? Or pizza that's not really pizza (I mean let's assume for the sake of it)?
Unfortunately biting into a fake cupcake does not do the same. This means this reward system is not functional, at all.
One study in France showed that subjects's brains would become responsive only with the consumption of real sugar. (Source below)
Gaining weigh is real
Have you ever met an individual who eats whatever and however much they want, with a side of diet coke or "zero" calorie sodas? This is the equivalent of eating fecal matter and putting flowers in it! It does not change the fact that what you are eating is...garbage, no matter how pretty or good looking it is, or no matter how someone compliments its look and/or aroma!
Once you trick your taste buds, they'll only crave the real thing. This leads to more gain weight and a horrible array of metabolic syndrome and choronic disease down the line.
What I have learned in life so far is that our body and brain are immensely complex. There are a ton of data we have not discovered yet, but what we do now however is that you can not trick your brain sometimes, and by doing so you will do more damage than good.
Frank G.K.W., Oberndorfer T.A., Simmons A.N., Paulus M.P., Fudge J.L., Yang T.T. & Kaye W.H. (2008). Sucrose activates human taste pathways differently from artificial sweetener, NeuroImage, 39(4) 1559-1569. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.10.061