Why oh why would we even be talking about soda on an interstitial cystitis website? Yes, for the vast majority of patients, both sugar and artificially sweetened sugars  are well known to trigger IC flares but some patients continue to drink them. It’s in our interest to educate you about why drinking sodas are bad.

For years know, we’ve known that people who drink diet sodas struggle with substantially higher rates of obesity and belly fat than patients who drink sugar based drinks.  New research from the University of Michigan suggests why this occurs. They found that sugar appears to activate neurons that release a hormone that encourages digestion. Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners don’t trigger that response thus explaining that constant “snacking” that people struggle with.

What makes this particularly interesting though is the animal model they studied, the fruit fly. Researchers Monica Dus, Greg Suh and Jason Lai of New York University School of Medicine deprived fruit flies of food for several hours and then gave them a choice between diet, non-nutritive sweeteners and real sugar. When the flies licked the real sugar, it activated a group of six neurons that released a hormone with receptors in the gut and brain.  The hormone fueled digestion and allowed the fly to lick more of the nutritious food. On the other hand, when the fly licked the diet sweetener, it never produced this hormone/digestive reaction because zero-calorie sweetener has no nutritional or energy value. In every case, the flies abandoned the artificial sweetener and chose the regular sugar because the starved flies needed the energy provided by the calories in the real sugar.

From an evolutionary perspective, sweet taste means sugar (traditionally from fruit or high concentrate carbohydrates) and a subsequent big energy boost. If the human brain works the same way, this explains why diet foods don’t satiate or satisfy us, and we gain weight while dieting, according to Dr. Dus who shared “It’s analogous to a person eating that entire sleeve of low-calorie cookies and the body telling her she’s still hungry. She keeps snacking until she eats something with nutritional value that meets her energy needs.”

Artificial sweeteners and their constant use in the food supply around the world continues to be controversial. Despite the intention of food chemists to create a product that would reduce sugar intake, they simply did not understand the short and long term health ramifications and, as a result, we have roughly three generations now struggling with rising levels of obesity. As the Hungry For Change movement has repeatedly said, foods made in laboratory aren’t as healthy or safe as foods produced by nature, preferably without the use of GMO or toxic pesticides.

It’s time to get back to the basics folks by eating simple, fresh and healthy foods. If you need something sweet to drink, how about making an infused water with a couple of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries instead. They are very satisfying and far healthier.

Source: Regular Soda, Please: Hormone That Differentiates Sugar, Diet Sweeteners Could Exist 

Sugar for thought!

Jill O.