"Help!" I heard my little brother screaming from behind the barn. "Help! Help!" I called for Mom and ran to find him. When I arrived he was standing in a mud puddle grinning. “I’m stuck.” He tried to look innocent, but started laughing as I turned to walk away. My brother was quite the little wolf crier when we were kids. He loved trying to fake me out every chance he got. I admit, it worked a few times. Then I caught on to his shenanigans and started ignoring him.
According to some researchers from Purdue University, that seems to be what artificial sweeteners are doing to our bodies. Faking us out.
Recently, those researchers reviewed a dozen studies published in the past five years that looked at the connection between drinking diet soda and the health issues that resulted (1). The review was published as an opinion piece in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism (2). In an interview with CNN about the review, they admitted they were “shocked” by what they found (3).
"Honestly, I thought that diet soda would be marginally better compared to regular soda in terms of health," said Susan Swithers, the author of the report and a behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychological sciences. “But in reality it has a counterintuitive effect.”
She goes on to say, "You've messed up the whole system, so when you consume real sugar, your body doesn't know if it should try to process it because it's been tricked by the fake sugar so many times."
Essentially, Swithers is saying they are faking your body out. Pretending to give it real sugar, and that’s what your body is expecting, but then your body doesn’t get what it expects and its left dazed and confused.
There’s no doubt the healthiest beverage out there is still going to be water, but realistically we aren’t going to completely cut out the things we love from our diet. So, whether you decide to drink diet or regular soda, just do your body a healthy favor and drink them in moderation.
Of course, there are always other alternatives to sweetening your favorite beverages.
- Honey: Unlike white table sugar, honey is a complex food. One teaspoon contains 25 other compounds including proteins, amino acids and trace minerals.
- Agave: A distilled sweetener derived from the blue agave cactus, agave has a low glycemic index.
- Stevia: A low-calorie sweetener that comes from a plant native to Paraguay and Brazil, stevia is 200 times sweeter than table sugar, so a little goes a long way.
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