Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Can diet soda make me fat?

This is an article from Charles Poliquin' site about diet drinks. It is a very interesting read.

by Dr. Jonny Bowden

We already know about the link between soda drinking and obesity. But diet soda? Yup. Two years ago, a study at the University of Texas Health Science Center found that there was a 41% increase in the risk for being overweight for every single can of diet soda a person consumed daily.

And brand new research published July 31 in the medical journal Circulation shows that people who drink more than one soda a day- whether it's regular or diet- have an almost 50% increased risk for metabolic syndrome, which doubles their risk for heart disease and diabetes.

But how can something with no calories increase the risk for obesity and heart disease?

There are several possible ways.

First the obesity connection. My own theory is that the sweet taste works in the brain to create a conditioned response, and the body responds as it usually does to normal sugar- with insulin, the fat storing hormone. Those circuits in the brain are pretty primitive and ancient, and they can't immediately distinguish chemical fakery- as far as your brain is concerned, sweet means sugar. It's entirely possible that physiologically, you would respond to aspartame in the same way as you would to table sugar. It's only a theory, but it makes sense.

Second, sugar creates it's own cravings. Just as a taste of rum creates an unstoppable craving in an alcoholic, it's entirely possible that the taste of sweet- even if it's fake- creates the same cascade of cravings in a carb addict that regular sugar does, leading to overeating and binging and all the rest of the reasons people put on weight.

Third, many people think that by drinking diet beverages they're "saving" calories and they subconsciously allow themselves to eat more, figuring it's not doing as much harm because overall their meal has less calories since they're drinking a diet drink. The diet drink gives them subconscious "permission" to eat more. This isn't conscious, but it's totally real.

Then there's the heart disease connection. Aspartame is primarily made from three ingredients- aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. Methanol- an alcohol- breaks down in the body to formaldehyde, a poison if there ever was one. Apologists for aspartame say that it doesn't create enough formaldehyde in the body to make a difference or cause any damage, but I'm not so sure. Exposing children to formaldehyde levels as low as .75 mg daily for several months has been shown to cause gradual toxicity. Plus, diet soda is frequently stored in hot warehouses, causing breakdown that went undetected in the original safety studies that looked at "ideal" conditions.
The bottom line: Soda is bad news, whether regular or diet. Period


Raechelle said...

Good article...glad I don't drink soda at all :)

little rene said...

Hi Lisa
I just wanted to ask you whether you think it is OK to buy viatamin supplements such as Fish Oil from the supermarket? Are the vitamins and supplements from companies such as Natures own and Blackmores OK or should I be getting them elsewhere?
Thanks :)

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