If you are thinking; that diet soft drinks are the answer, think again.  Diet drink consumption has increased 400% since 1960.  They may or may not cause cancer, but the evidence is mounting that they lead to weight gain rather than weight loss.  Those who consume diet drinks regularly have a 200 percent increased risk of weight gain, a 36 percent increased risk of pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, and a 67 percent increased risk of diabetes.  A study of over 400 people found that those who drank two diet sodas a day had five times the increase in waist circumference as those who did not drink soda.

Seems you can’t outsmart Mother Nature.  Fooling your brain into thinking you are getting something sweet plays dirty tricks on your
metabolism.  Artificial sweeteners disrupt the normal hormonal and neurological signals that control hunger and satiety (feeling full).  A study of rats that were fed artificially sweetened food found that their metabolism slowed down and they were triggered to consume more calories and gain more weight than rats fed sugar.

In another alarming study, rats offered the choice of cocaine or artificial sweeteners always picked the artificial sweeteners, even if the rats were previously programmed to be cocaine addicts.  The author of the study said that, “(t)he absolute preference for taste sweeteners may lead to a re-ordering in the hierarchy of potentially addictive stimuli, with sweetened diets…taking precedence over cocaine and possibly other drugs of abuse.”

The use of artificial sweeteners, as well as “food porn,” the sexy experience of sweet, fat and salt in your mouth, alters your food preferences.  Your palate shifts from being able to enjoy fruits and vegetables and whole foods to liking only the sexy stuff.

My advice is to give up stevia, aspartame, sucralose, sugar alcohols such as xylitol and malitol, and all of the other heavily used and marketed sweeteners unless you want to slow down your metabolism, gain weight, and become an addict.

Mark Hyman, MD

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