Think saving calories with artificial sweeteners is a good idea? Think again!
I had a really nice lunch with a friend at our favorite sushi place - great food and conversation. As usual, the subject of weight came up (it's a menopausal girl thing!), and while we talked about it a lot, a piece of our conversation that really struck me was around sugar, artificial sweeteners and yogurt.
My friend mentioned that while she hasn't made the change to eating plain yogurt, the vanilla yogurt that she does eat "at least doesn't have sugar." She thought she was doing her body a favor by choosing one with artificial, calorie-free sweeteners instead. Sadly, she's not doing her body a favor at all, and a number of scientific studies are really proving the point. I could name several here, but one study that I really like was reported by the Huffington Post. Bottom-line - it found that artificial sweeteners mess with gut bacteria in a way that causes glucose intolerance, which leads to weight gain.
"People who drink diet sodas over regular sodas are more likely to be overweight or obese, but scientists weren't sure why. The theories fell into two camps: one, something inherent to artificial sweeteners causes weight gain or two, diet sodas imply a diet and heavy people are more likely to be on one.
While we can't discount either quite yet, put down one more point for the first theory. A new study from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel reveals that artificial sweeteners may have a deleterious effect on our gut bacteria.
Researchers found that artificial sweeteners changed the composition of gut bacteria over time, which could explain why subjects became more glucose intolerant over time. Prolonged glucose intolerance leads to conditions like obesity and diabetes -- the very things that people drinking diet sodas are trying to avoid."
In the study, they found that those who reported eating more artificial sweeteners were more likely to be heavier, have larger waists and higher blood glucose levels when fasting.
"Artificial sweeteners were extensively introduced into our diets with the intention of reducing caloric intake and normalizing blood glucose levels without compromising the human 'sweet tooth,'" write the study authors. "Our findings suggest that [artificial sweeteners] may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight."
A solution - look for and choose natural sweeteners. For my friend, a great choice would be fresh fruit (berries are my personal choice) and a touch of vanilla extract. More information on other safe sweeteners coming soon........
For the full Huffington Post article, click here