More and more evidence is emerging that using artificial sweeteners may be something of a false economy.
In Mike’s list of Food Additives – Splenda is placed in the ‘safe’ category as far as health goes. It is worth noting that not everyone agrees with such an assessment.
However there are other factors at play than just safety. Do these sweeteners really help in the battle of the bulge?Two pieces of research over the last 6 months paint a confusing picture.
1. It’s the sugar calories that make us feel good – not the sweetness.
New Scientist refers to a study in Neuron. The research involved testing sweet signals on mice. The mice were genetically engineered to have their ‘sweet-sensors’ removed (poor mice!). The mice still preferred genuine sugar to the sucralose-sweetened sugar.
When the sweet-oblivious mice swilled sugar water rich in calories, their brains produced lots of dopamine. Calorie free – but still sweet-tasting – water sparked little dopamine production in the rodents’ brains,
2. The palate may not tell the difference – but the brain does.
Sciam refers to another new study in Neuron that involved an MRI scan of 12 healthy women. The women were sipping water sweetened with either sugar (sucrose) or Splenda (sucralose). The conclusions of the lead author are enlightening:
[..] when we taste Splenda, the reward system becomes activated but not satiated. “Our hypothesis is that Splenda has less of a feedback mechanism to stop the craving, to get satisfied.”
So What Now?
One of the lead authors of the former study said this “You might drink diet sodas to try and cut down on the calories, but you’re likely to replace them in some other way. I developed this habit for drinking diet sodas, and I don’t think I lost any weight.”
That’s something worth pondering on.