A new study shows that diet sodas may be causing more harm than good when it come to the state of general blood sugar health.
As the trend moves toward calorie free, artificially sweetened drinks, new studies are showing that there are some unpleasant associations between the sweeteners and weight gain, along with diseases.
Susan Swithers, a Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at Indiana’s Purdue University, explained in her new opinion piece published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism in June 2013:
“Not only are these artificially sweetened drinks linked with bad health effects common with drinking regular soda, but may be the cause for long term heath problems. “
Swithers went on to say, “Accumulating evidence suggests that frequent consumers of these sugar substitutes (such as aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin) may also be at increased risk of… metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
While some researchers have picked up on the correlation between diet soda and the increasing levels of poor health, Swithers maintains that this relationship is yet to be examined more thoroughly. Swithers also told Fox News, “The typical response has been to dismiss this from the perspective of, ‘It’s only people who are unhealthy or heavy who drink diet soda in the first place.'”
Swithers and her team hypothesize that it is not just behavioral patterns that are to blame. Rather, artificial sweeteners may actually change the chemical make up in people’s brains and bodies that control the way that we taste something sweet to react differently over time.
The normal bodily response to the intake of sugars is a signal in the brain that both an intake of calories and sugars has occurred enabling the release of hormones needed to prepare for their digestion. Swithers adds,”[This] prevents big spikes in blood sugar, and those same hormones are thought to have direct effects on satiety.”
Changes in the response mechanism for the way that we process food that tastes sweet without any real sugars to digest could be the cause of the opposite desired effect – weight loss. As a result to the change in the way that our bodies process sugars could cause people to overeat and has the potential to cause consistently higher blood sugar levels leading to the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
There is still more to be learned about the relationship between poor health and artificial sweeteners in diet sodas. “Until we can recognize that these risks exist, we won’t be able to figure out what is causing them and how to avoid them,” Swithers concludes.