Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is Your Diet Soda Making You Fat?

Is your diet pop causing you to gain weight?  It is very possible. There have been a number of small studies linking some of the artificial sweeteners to weight gain. The most recent of these studies was completed by Ganesh Halade, Ph.D., Gabriel Fernandes, Ph.D., the senior author and professor of rheumatology and clinical immunology, and Sharon P. Fowler, M.P.H., in the Division of Clinical Epidemiology. They studied the relationship between oral exposure to aspartame (NutraSweet) and fasting glucose and insulin levels in 40 diabetes-prone mice. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener widely used in diet sodas and other products. 
After three months, the mice that were fed aspartame with a high fat diet had a notable increase in glucose levels but a decrease in insulin levels compared to those mice fed only a diet high in fat.  These results imply that the aspartame stimulates a decline in pancreatic beta-cell function, the cells responsible for production of insulin.   This may explain the sudden rise in diabetes we have seen over the last 40 years.  Heavy intake of aspartame in humans potentially leads to diabetes.  Increased glucose levels leads to increased need fro insulin and if the aspartame is suppressing the beta-cell function, this will cause overload of the pancreas, increased obesity, and eventually progression to diabetes. 
Other studies commented on in the recent conference of the American Diabetes Association have shown that the use of diet soda in general increases thirst and sensation of hunger that stimulates overeating.
So, what can you and I do about it? Well, for starters.  Don't order that diet pop with your meal.  Second, increase your water intake.  Most of us don't drink enough water anyway.  You should be drinking at least eight 8oz glasses of water per day.  Third, be careful with other low carbohydrate foods that are sweetened with aspartame (NutraSweet).  Stay tuned for more information on sweeteners.  Upcoming blog posts will contain the good, bad and ugly on specific sweeteners. 
Until then, stay healthy!
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