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Why Artificial Sweeteners Drive More Snacking And Obesity

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.


By |2017-01-18T12:03:09+00:00June 15th, 2015|Diet & Food, Interstitial Cystitis Network Blog, Jill's Journal|Comments Off on Why Artificial Sweeteners Drive More Snacking And Obesity

About the Author:

My Google Profile+ Jill Heidi Osborne is the president and founder of the Interstitial Cystitis Network, a health education company dedicated to interstitial cystitis, bladder pain syndrome and other pelvic pain disorders. As the editor and lead author of the ICN and the IC Optimist magazine, Jill is proud of the academic recognition that her website has achieved. The University of London rated the ICN as the top IC website for accuracy, credibility, readability and quality. (Int Urogynecol J - April 2013). Harvard Medical School rated both Medscape and the ICN as the top two websites dedicated to IC. (Urology - Sept 11). Jill currently serves on the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Panel (US Army) where she collaborates with researchers to evaluate new IC research studies for possible funding. Jill has conducted and/or collaborates on a variety of IC research studies on new therapeutics, pain care, sexuality, the use of medical marijuana, menopause and the cost of treatments, shining a light on issues that influence patient quality of life. An IC support group leader and national spokesperson for the past 20 years, she has represented the IC community on radio, TV shows, at medical conferences. She has written hundreds of articles on IC and its related conditions. With a Bachelors Degree in Pharmacology and a Masters in Psychology, Jill was named Presidential Management Intern (aka Fellowship) while in graduate school. (She was unable to earn her PhD due to the onset of her IC.) She spends the majority of her time providing WELLNESS COACHING for patients in need and developing new, internet based educational and support tools for IC patients, including the “Living with IC” video series currently on YouTube and the ICN Food List smartphone app! Jill was diagnosed with IC at the age of 32 but first showed symptoms at the age of 12.