Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Diet drinks and artificial sweeteners WORSE than sugar??

If you're trying to cure your sugar cravings by consuming less sugar, turns out artificial sweeteners are not going to be a help - in fact, they might hurt more.

Mark Hyman, MD on diet drinks:

Seems you can’t outsmart Mother Nature.  Tricking 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-sweetened food.

In another alarming study, rats offered the choice of cocaine or artificial sweeteners always picked the artificial sweetener, even if the rats were previously programmed to be cocaine addicts.  The author of the study said that, “[t]he absolute preference for taste sweetness 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 like 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.  Some may be worse than others like aspartame that is what we call an excitotoxin that can cause neurologic symptoms like brain fog, migraines or worse.  And some may just give you bad gas because they ferment in your gut, like the sugar alcohols (anything that ends in “ol” like xylitol).  Others like stevia, which comes from a South American plant, may be slightly better and could be enjoyed from time to time, they all keep us yearning for more and more – so our brains get confused, we eat more food and we get fatter.  There are ways to cut cravings by naturally balancing your blood sugar.


  1. Hey Alex:

    What is the original article Mark Hyman is referring to that you're referring to?


    1. Hi Michael,
      It's the "Read the full article here: 'Diet Drinks: Helpful or Harmful to Kick the Sugar Habit'" link at the bottom. Let me know if you have any trouble accessing it. Happy reading, exploring and healthying!

    2. I apologize, I was unclear. I mean the original scientific paper (article) published in a peer-reviewed science journal. It isn't cited in the original article. It would be helpful to read the original work.

      I don't currently understand the reasoning behind why artificial sweeteners would impact metabolism, as they don't provide energy and are not recognized as chemical energy by the body. They also do not activate release of insulin, retarding metabolism and promoting energy storage as glucose-sources do. Though, I don't rule out any suggestion and I would like to read the original work.

      I enjoy the nature of your posts and appreciate surprises like this one. I would like to further investigate this, nonetheless.

    3. I understand, thank you for clarifying. I'm not positive they are available online, but these same studies are sited in Dr. Hyman's book The Blood Sugar Solution as such:

      Swithers SE, Davidson TL. A role for sweet taste: calorie predictive relations in energy regulation by rats. Behav Neurosci. 2008; 122(1):161-73.

      Lenoir M, et al. Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward. PLoS One. 2007;2(1);e698.

      Ludwig DS. Artificially sweetened beverages: cause for concern. JAMA. 2009 Dec 9;302(22):2477-78.

      Hope that helps!