Obesity in a Lo-Cal Can

People are still surprised to learn diet sodas don’t give you what they promise. You may drink them because they have no calories. But diet sodas don’t help you drop weight. They make you fat instead. And you can get hooked on them.

I came across an article in JAMA about just how addicting those diet soft drinks are. When you drink them, changes take place in your brain that make you behave differently.(1)

Your self-control goes out the window. Your body actually becomes addicted to the unnatural sweetness like it’s a drug.

In one study, animals had the choice between cocaine and saccharin. Ninety four percent chose saccharin – even if they were already addicted to the cocaine.(2)

Early man had none of the sweet foods you have today. And this is when your taste receptors evolved. So now, when you’re exposed to hyper-sweet artificial sweeteners, your brain is tricked into thinking it’s getting nutrition.

When your drink contains aspartame, sucralose, or any other artificial sweetener, you over-stimulate your sweetness receptors. It changes the way you think about the way things should taste.

You crave high-intensity sweetness. And naturally sweet foods like fruit don’t taste as good to you. Vegetables lose their appeal, because they’re not sweet.

Your gut has sweetness receptors, too. It’s all ready to absorb nutrients, so you get a surge in hormones, like insulin. But when the calories don’t arrive, your body tells your brain to go out and get them.

Your appetite increases, and you get cravings that cause you to overeat. What’s worse, you turn to high-carbohydrate foods and sweets to make up the calorie void.(3)

But now, the insulin you’ve poured into your blood tells your body to turn whatever you do eat into fat.

I read one study of almost 2,600 people. Those who drank diet sodas had a 47 percent higher body mass index (BMI) than those who didn’t, and their risk of obesity was doubled.(4)

The solution? Go back to the real thing.

When you switch to naturally sweet drinks, your taste receptors adjust and go back to normal. You regain the ability to taste the sweetness found in natural foods and drinks. Your nutrition and the quality of your diet improve.(5) And it’s far easier to drop weight.(6)

There are a lot of natural juices at the grocery store. But every one goes through processing and sits on the shelves, losing nutrients quickly. If you must buy them, stick to organic brands in glass bottles such as R.W. Knudsen, Lakewood, or Santa Cruz.

My suggestion is to invest in a juicer or a heavy-duty blender.

Citrus juicers are only for citrus like oranges or grapefruits. Juice extractors are for juicing fruits and vegetables.

A cheaper extractor will handle soft vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, and most fruits, but you’ll need a pricier, more powerful model if you want to juice hard vegetables like beets and large carrots.

I like to use a heavy duty, multi-use blender. It keeps the fiber in the drink you make. Throw in bits of vegetables and fruits, add water and ice, blend, and out comes a delicious drink in seconds.

If you blend hard vegetables, you’ll need a strong motor. Get one with as much as 2 hp. Many come with a 7-year warranty.

But there is a world of drinks you can easily make and enjoy without any additional equipment…

  • Brew herbal tea and use honey to sweeten it. Cool, add ice, and you’ve got a naturally sweet drink. Look for organic teas like Yogi, Tazo, and Rishi.
  • Squeeze lemons and add to filtered water to make lemonade. If it’s too tart, add raw, whole sugar or honey to taste.
  • You can make a soda-like drink by blending the pulp of one mango and a slice of lemon and lime with 4 cups filtered water.
  • Use cut up organic peaches, strawberries, and grapes in any combination. Add ice, filtered water, and blend.

 

Sources:

1. Ludwig, D. “Artificially Sweetened Beverages.” JAMA, 2009 Dec; 302(22):2477-2478.

2. Lenoir, M., Serre, F., Cantin, L., Ahmed, S., “Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward.” PLoS ONE. 2007; 2(8): e698.

3. Egan JM, Margolskee RF. “Taste cells of the gut and gastrointestinal chemosensation.” Mol Interv. 2008 Apr;8(2):78-81.

4. Fowler, S., Williams, K., et al. “Fueling the Obesity Epidemic? Artificially Sweetened Beverage Use and Long-term Weight Gain.” Obesity (2008) 16 8, 1894-1900.

5. Carol E O’Neil, Victor L Fulgoni, III, et al. “Improved nutrient intake and diet quality with 100% fruit juice consumption in children: NHANES 2003–2006.” FASEB J. 24: 561.3.

6. Ibid. Fowler, S. et al.

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About the author

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Dr. Al Sears is fast becoming the nation's leading authority on longevity and heart health.  His cutting edge breakthroughs and commanding knowledge of alternative medicine have been transforming the lives of his patients for over 15 years.

Learn more at http://www.alsearsmd.com


Comments

Anonymous's picture
1

Anonymous

What are your thoughts on Stevia?

Anonymous's picture
2

joanne

Stevia is the best and healthiest you can use.It is healthy and propery used it taste great.Some people say it becomes bitter,but then you use to much.There is no bitter aftertaste if you use it correct.You need just a little.

Anonymous's picture
3

Detox Foot Pads

I use Stevia -- I don't drink Koolaid but my boyfriend does, so I sweeten his koolaid with stevia -- I use less than a tsp of pure stevia to sweeten the whole pitcher of koolaid. Or, I make lemonade with it, with real lemons, so it is a healthy, tasty drink.

I also have tried Zevia, which is a natural soda pop sweetened with Stevia. Its taste is a bit odd, but knowing you are drinking something as healthy as that, makes up for it.

What ticks me off the most is watching parents give their developing children artificial sweeteners -- think of the brain lesions and development issues that will occur! Poor kids! They are innocent. The parents may be ignorant of this, but I have learned that ignorance is NOT an excuse!

Anonymous's picture
4

Lila

In reality it is best to avoid sweetened food as much as possible. Even limiting consumption of today's hybridized fruits is important, since they have been bred to be sweet and are full of fructose. And I'm talking about the whole fruit, not juice.
You wrote: "Early man had none of the sweet foods you have today. And this is when your taste receptors evolved." You are right. "Sweet" foods then weren't sweet. Fruits were much smaller and a lot more tart. The occasional find of honey was a rare treat and greatly treasured and used sparingly. The best course - get used to eating food without added sweetener (I include stevia). If you like tea or coffee, gradually reduce the amount of sweetener till there is none. I drink coffee occasionally. I used to like it with sugar. But when I started eating a high fat diet I added heavy cream to the coffee and boy, what a treat! It's even better as iced coffee. Tea I have never liked sweetened. A really refreshing drink is cold water with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

jlw1969's picture
5

Loretta Watson

I use Stevia in my green tea and lemon drink. It's very good. My problem is when my husband has to put sugar in our green beans and broccolli. It's how his momma use to cook. She put sugar in everything but when we met, he was tall and thin. Now he has a gut and I can't convince him that it's the bread and sugar. lol. Some people will never get it. I use to drink soda pop all day long. Now I have some on Saturday at church with our snack or potluck days. I want to stop doing even that but it's so hard when that Pepsi is staring me in the face. It's complicated. lol

Anonymous's picture
6

Thom

I drink a lot of Diet Coke, and on a personal level, I must say that I disagree with a lot of your arguments.

'You crave high-intensity sweetness. And naturally sweet foods like fruit don’t taste as good to you. Vegetables lose their appeal, because they’re not sweet.'

This is unfounded speculation. I love Diet Coke, and on the contrary, I hate super sweet foods. I drink Diet Coke because I find that Coca Cola actually tastes much, much sweeter. Since you don't reference any evidence for this point, I will happily dismiss this.

'I came across an article in JAMA about just how addicting those diet soft drinks are. When you drink them, changes take place in your brain that make you behave differently.(1)'

The article you point to does not show any evidence for this at all. It does show that in the Lenoir et al study, rats tended to push the lever for saccharin over cocaine, but of course, this does not prove that an actual change happens in the brain that causes you to 'behave differently'.

'Your appetite increases, and you get cravings that cause you to overeat. What’s worse, you turn to high-carbohydrate foods and sweets to make up the calorie void.(3)'

Completely unfounded, again. A new study suggests there is no link whatsoever between diet sodas and overeating:

http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com...

'I read one study of almost 2,600 people. Those who drank diet sodas had a 47 percent higher body mass index (BMI) than those who didn’t, and their risk of obesity was doubled.(4)'

Correlation is NOT cause and effect. Just because more overweight people drink more diet soda, does not prove that there is a direct link in the body. I do not think particularly health conscious people drink diet sodas, but water. If you did a study on 'water drinkers', you'd find different evidence, but you can't say that drinking lots of water means it makes you thin, can you?

'My suggestion is to invest in a juicer or a heavy-duty blender.'

Your suggestion is to drink blended fruit drinks? Jeez, we know that fruit is healthier than diet drinks, which is why we consume fruit aswell as diet drinks. Neither are a substitute for one another.

I think your arguments came in the wake of aspartame hysteria, and you aim to demonise something which is proven to be perfectly healthy, just because you don't agree with it.

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