The past 25 years have seen a dramatic increase in the consumption of artificially sweetened foods, including those containing sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, etc. Yet the incidence of overweight and obesity has also increased markedly during this period. Despite the superficial logic that consuming fewer calories will lead to weight loss, the evidence is very clear that using artificial sweeteners can, paradoxically, cause weight gain.
Most of us are aware of research showing the links between specific artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin and cancer. But all artificial sweeteners are also known to cause increased cravings and weight gain and may subsequently contribute to insulin resistance. According to a study by researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio, middle-aged adults who drink diet soft drinks drastically increase their risk of gaining weight later on. The study monitored the weight and soda-drinking habits of more than 600 normal-weight subjects aged 25 to 64. When researchers followed up with the participants after 8 years, they discovered those who consumed one diet soda a day were 65 percent more likely to be overweight than those who drank none. Drinking two or more low- or no-calorie soft drinks daily raised the odds of becoming obese or overweight even higher. The real shocker? Participants who drank diet soda had a greater chance of becoming overweight than those who drank regular soda!
Artificial sweeteners appear to be a double-edged dieting sword. They do not allow for the leptin release that normally happens when we eat the sugars that signal the brain that our hunger is satisfied. At the same time, even though artificial sweeteners do not cause our blood sugar to rise, our body still responds as though artificial sweeteners do not cause our blood sugar to rise, our body still responds as though there is sugar in our bloodstream by secreting insulin. Between the low leptin and high insulin, our appetite and cravings go haywire.
Knowing that high insulin is a stepping stone to type 2 diabetes and obesity, we cannot overlook the connection to the number of diabetic, prediabetic and overweight people who use these types of products.
Apparently, the taste and feel of food in our mouth influences our learned ability to match our caloric intake with our caloric need. For instance, we learn very early on that both sweet tastes and dense, thick foods signal high calorie content. Our innate ability to control how much we eat (and, therefore, our body weight) may be weakened when this natural link is impaired by consuming products that contain artificial sweeteners. These foods and drinks prompt us to eat more because they often have a thinner consistency and texture than regular, sugar-sweetened foods. You may have noticed this textural difference in the past when drinking diet versus regular soda or eating yogurt sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
Excerpted from The Carb Sensitivity Program by Dr. Natasha Turner. Copyright © 2012 by Natasha Turner. All rights reserved.
NATASHA TURNER, N.D., is a leading naturopathic doctor with a special focus on hormonal and digestive concerns. She is the founder of Clear Medicine, a Canadian-based wellness boutique that provides integrated health care. As a speaker and educator, Dr. Turner lectures across Canada and appears frequently in the media. Her first book, The Hormone Diet, became a #1 national bestseller within a week of its release, and is now an international bestseller. Her second book, The Supercharged Hormone Diet, became a #1 bestseller the first day of its release in Canada.