When Zero Equals More

While I was waiting for an appointment the other day, the receptionist asked if I would like something to drink while I waited. “A diet Coke? Diet Sprite?” she offered.

I asked if she had any water. My request was met with a pause, a quizzical look, and then another question, “You don’t want a diet Coke?”

Has water become that rare?

Can Diet Drinks and Diet Foods Help You Lose Weight?

In the quest to lose weight, many understandably turn to so-called diet drinks and diet foods that boast no calories or no sugar.

With the use of artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda and NutraSweet, diet foods and drinks offer the sweetness of sugar without the calories – sort of like having your cake and eating it too.

For those on a diet, a sugar substitute can seem like a “free food” – one that doesn’t really count, because it won’t add to the daily calorie intake.

However, artificial sweeteners are not the perfect solution that they may appear to be. In fact, several studies have linked these no-calorie sweeteners to numerous health problems.

Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain

Research shows that turning to sugar subs to cut calories and lose weight may actually be counterproductive. The use of artificial sweeteners has been linked to depression, thyroid problems, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – all of which can lead to weight gain.

In addition, research also indicates that these sugar stand-ins may lower a person’s metabolism and interfere with the body’s natural ability to regulate food and calorie intake making losing those extra pounds nothing more than a sweet dream.

The brain and body have the innate ability to use the sweetness and fat content of food to gauge its caloric intake and thus regulate appetite. For individuals living a healthy lifestyle that includes a nourishing diet free from unhealthful foods that may alter this intrinsic ability, the capacity to govern and balance food intake comes fairly naturally.

However, by consuming substances that our bodies were not meant to ingest (such as no-calorie sweeteners), we can disrupt and impair the body’s natural faculties. When this happens, we tend to crave unhealthful foods, eat more than we need, gain more weight, and put on more body fat.

This may explain in part why obesity has risen in parallel with the use of artificial sweeteners.

They’re Everywhere

Artificial sweeteners are widespread and can be found in a plethora of products, including some varieties of soft drinks, yogurts, ice cream, juices, energy drinks, applesauce, fruit cups, protein bars, chewing gum, syrup, salad dressing, popcorn, and even some breath mints and toothpaste.

Reading labels is your best strategy to avoid artificial sweeteners.

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