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Artificial Sweeteners
By Drs. Neal and Nicole Barry

What we put into our bodies is an important piece of the health puzzle.  We all know not to put diesel gas into our cars that run on unleaded gas.  If we do, we can’t expect our cars to run smoothly, or at all.  The same is true for our fuel.  There is so much misinformation that is presented by companies attempting to sell their product, which leads to confusion and further dissemination of incorrect information. 

So the question of the day is:
Which is better for you, regular soda, or diet soda? 
While the obvious answer is that neither is good for you, it may be surprising to find out that studies have shown that drinking diet sodas can actually increase your weight. 

A Purdue University study published February 10, 2008, in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience reported that rats on diets containing the artificial sweetener saccharin gained more weight than rats given sugary food, casting doubt on the benefits of low-calorie sweeteners.  Another recent study, which included more than 18,000 people, found healthy adults who consumed one diet drink a day could increase their risk of health problems and metabolic disorders by a whooping 30 to 40 percent.  "The taste buds taste sweet, but there's no calorie load that comes with it. There's a mismatch here. It seems it changes your brain chemistry in some way," Dr. Savard of ABC News said. "Anything you put in your mouth, your body has a strong reaction to it. It's much more than counting calories. It seems normally with sweet foods that we rev up our metabolism."

A major American controlled study on 80,000 women showed that those who regularly use artificial sweeteners put on more weight per year than those who do not use them. What is even more surprising is the finding that, with the widespread use of sweeteners, the consumption of ordinary sugar and sugary foods has increased, too. In other words, the more artificial sweeteners you consume, the more food urges you have, thereby fulfilling their patent as an "appetite enhancement".

There is overwhelming proof that these food poisons are making us fat. Research conducted at Purdue University shows that a group of test subjects fed artificial sweeteners subsequently consumed three times the calories of those given regular sugar. According to the study, it is far less fattening to eat sugar than artificial sweeteners, although eating this much regular sugar isn’t good for anyone either.

Most mainstream doctors recommend that their overweight patients consume diet soda, Sweet-N-Low, etc. for weight loss, but in actual fact their advice causes the patients to crave calories and binge on unhealthy carbohydrates. The obesity epidemic is spreading like wildfire ever since diet foods and beverages gained popularity.

The body has a self-regulating mechanism, a kind of thermostat that measures the amount of energy (or calories) it can obtain from a particular meal. When your body has received enough energy from the food you have eaten, then your mouth, stomach, intestines, and liver send messages to the brain that all energy requirements have been met. Subsequently, your nervous system secretes hormones that stop your desire for more food. This point of saturation is essential for your wellbeing, for without it you would continuously want to eat and never feel satisfied.  Restricting your daily intake of calories, in an attempt to lose weight, tricks your body into thinking that periodic famines are going on and tries to convert some of the food into fat deposits to prepare for the next one. After each “voluntary famine” or “weight reducing” diet, your body will put on weight much faster than it did before. This is known as the yo-yo effect.

If you eat artificial sweeteners, the body naturally responds to their sweet taste by secreting insulin. Rather than receiving sugar in the blood as expected, however, it receives a combination of protein compounds. Doing its normal job, the pancreas has already prepared a portion of insulin that now floats about in the bloodstream searching for the expected sugar. Since it isn't found there, the insulin removes some of the blood sugar instead. This effectively lowers your sugar levels. However, since this situation can be life-endangering, your body quickly signals “hunger” which becomes a sudden, strong “craving.” Since foods with artificial sweeteners are not able to meet the demand for an increase in blood sugar, you begin to look for sugary foods.

Instead of saving the calories that are contained in ordinary sugar, you have artificially increased your need and appetite for more sweet food. If you try to satisfy this desire by eating more foods containing artificial sweeteners (without calories), the urge to eat will become even stronger than before and you will start overeating. Researchers have found that the urge to eat more food after ingesting artificial sweeteners in a drink can last up to 90 minutes, even when all blood tests show normal values.

A more serious situation arises when the body is given artificial sweeteners on an ongoing basis. Since the sweeteners repeatedly stimulate the taste buds responsible for detecting sugar, the brain maintains an almost continuous urge to eat. At the same time, the liver is instructed by the brain to store sugar supplies rather than to release them, which causes chronic fatigue. The pancreas, which had wrongly assumed that real sugar was entering the bloodstream, eventually realizes that it has been cheated. Hence it reduces its secretion of insulin.

If soda still sounds like a type of fuel that you desire to put into your body, also remember that the number two (or three) ingredient, phosphoric acid, is an efficient way to leach the calcium from your bones…speeding up the degenerative process and leading to increased rates of osteoporosis.  I’ll stick to a glass of sangiovese.


In This Issue:
Artificial Sweeteners
Back Pain: What Works (Forbes Magazine)
Shrimp & Couscous Jambalaya

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