Sweeteners in diet drinks may contribute to weight gain

When we start the weight loss journey, it is very likely that the first food to be eliminated from the daily diet is sugar and without a doubt it is an essential measure for general health (key in the prevention of chronic diseases). However, for many people to stop enjoying that sweet touch is a challenge and they bet on the consumption of artificial sweeteners thinking that they are a good substitute for table sugar. These types of chemical substances are usually added in a long ultra-processed products and are sold as a good alternative for reduce calorie intake and shed extra pounds. Diet sodas are the clear example, to the extent that many people who undergo different weight loss plans include them in their daily diet and the reality is that they are even related to weight gain. The main reason? Consuming artificial sweeteners increases your appetite. This is suggested by new research led by the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney and the Garvan Institute for Medical Research.

According to the researchers, artificial sweeteners may actually be sabotaging any weight loss effort by causing you to eat more and thereby increasing your desire to eat. The worst thing? They activate the need to consume sweeter foods, rich in carbohydrates and calories.

Co-led by the University of Sydney, the study looked at what happened to fruit flies when they were fed a diet mixed with a artificial sweetener sucralose, also known as Splenda. This study came about as an initiative by Associate Professor Greg Neely, who stated that he was driven to do the research when he noticed his own stomach growling with hunger after consuming diet soda. In addition, he maintains that this information has been available for more than twenty years: “In the 2000s, there were human population studies that showed that these effects could exist, but no one had modeled them.”

The results, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, shed light on the true effects artificial sweeteners have on the brain, in particular by regulating the appetite and altering the perception of taste. It is a complex mechanism involved in the brain’s reward center that could explain weight gain after consuming artificially sweetened products.

The study also found that after chronic exposure to a diet with a high consumption of beverages made with the artificial sweetener sucralose, the animals began to eat much more. When the reward center measures the sweetness of food, if it does not find a similar increase in energy entering the body, the brain “It will demand more energy.” In fact, fruit flies consumed 30% more calories when they followed their diet of artificial sweeteners than when they consumed their naturally sweetened foods.

When the researchers set about investigating why the animals ate more even though they had enough calories, they found that Chronic consumption of this artificial sweetener actually increases the sweet intensity of the real nutritive sugar, and this then increases the overall motivation to eat more food.

The truth is that every day more studies come to light that prove the devastating effects of a high consumption of sweeteners. It is no coincidence that obesity rates are on the rise, billions of people around the world choose to consume artificial sweeteners to help them lose weight and keep it off in the long term. As a result, diet products containing artificial sweeteners have flooded the market as more people turn to “no added sugar” options.

Fortunately, this type of research comes as a clear warning about how artificial sweeteners can stimulate appetite, interfere with brain function and impact the regulation of hunger. Furthermore, we cannot fail to mention that a high consumption of sweeteners is related to serious health problems: It affects intestinal health and the quality of the microbiota, thereby negatively affecting the functioning of the immune system. They also erode tooth enamel, are a direct cause of headaches, damage bone health, affect cardiovascular health, and increase the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and certain types of cancer. Last but not least, the study found that sucralose causes hyperactivity, insomnia and decreased quality of sleep.

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