When it comes to artificial sweeteners and sugar, your body cannot tell the difference, and so using low- and no-calorie sweeteners do not help weight loss. That’s the word from Professor Soraya Shirazi-Beechey at the University of Liverpool.
According to Professor Shirazi-Beechey, the receptors for sweet taste, which are found in the taste cells in the gut, allow both people and animals to detect sugar (glucose) within the intestinal tract. Artificial sweeteners behave similarly to sugar, in that they activate the sensors in the intestinal tract that are key to the absorption of glucose. Because artificial sweeteners activate the sensors, this action causes the body to absorb more glucose from the diet.
In the September 3 issue of the Telegraph (United Kingdom), Professor Shirazi-Beechey noted that “If someone wants to lose weight, I don’t think artificial sweeteners are going to help.” Therefore, people who are hoping that their use of artificial sweeteners will help with weight loss will be disappointed.
The report by Professor Shirazi-Beechey supports previous study results published in February 2008, in which researchers in the United States noted that use of artificial sweeteners makes it more difficult for people to accomplish weight loss and to regulate their food intake. These investigators, who conducted their study at Purdue University, used rats who were fed low-calorie yogurt or yogurt with regular sugar. They found that rats who consumed low-calorie yogurt gained more weight and body fat than the rats who ate the sugary yogurt.
The Purdue researchers explained that sweet foods may disrupt the body’s natural ability to count calories based on the sweetness of foods. The body’s digestive reflexes prepare for the influx of calories, but when the false sweetness from artificial sweeteners is not followed by lots of calories, the body becomes confused, leading people to eat more or to use less energy. In either case, efforts at weight loss are stymied.
In fact, the authors note that their results suggest that consuming foods that contain artificial sweeteners may lead to an increase in body weight and obesity because these sweeteners interfere with the body’s basic homeostatic, physiological processes.
Swithers SE and Davidson TL. Behavioral Neuroscience 2008 Feb; 122(1): 161-73
Telegraph, Sept. 3, 2009
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