Diet Drinks Helpful or Harmful to Kick the Sugar Habit

Diet Drinks Helpful or Harmful to Kick the Sugar Habit

If you saw the recent 60 Minutes segment by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the dangers of sugar, you might be scared off the sweet stuff for good. It causes heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer and it makes super bad, super dense, super dangerous cholesterol particles.

The data is pretty strong on this. Scientists even locked kids in a hospital, fed them sugar and measured their blood every 30 minutes. It didn’t take long for things to turn bad inside.

But if you are thinking that diet soft drinks or artificial or even natural sweeteners are the answer for getting off sugar, think again! Diet drink consumption has increased 400 percent since 1960. It may or may not cause cancer, but the evidence is mounting that it leads to weight gain rather than weight loss.

Those who consume diet drinks regularly have a 200 percent increased risk of weight gain, a 36 percent increased risk of pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, and a 67 percent increased risk of diabetes. A study of 400 people found that those who drank two diet sodas a day or more increased their waist size by five times.

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, which 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.

So if you want something sweet, enjoy the real thing from time to time. But stay away from fake sugars or fake food or factory-made science projects of any kind.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Do you drink diet soda?

How have they affected your health and your weight?

Do you use artificial sweeteners and will you continue to do so?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below!

Practicing Physician, Scholar, New York Times Best Selling Author

Please don't take my comment too seriously - it's just that vodka and diet coke is my fave tipple - water is great but it's not good with vodka - any suggestions šŸø
I have just given up diet coke/Pepsi max after drinking 3-5 cans per day for the past 10 years. The withdrawal I have had since going cold turkey last Monday has been unbelievable but I am beginning to feel better. My body and skin are slowly feeling and looking great and exercising is much easier fuelled by only water. Hoping that my severe migraines may stop now too...
Comment by srcash69
March 30, 2015
I've been drinking diet sodas for 30 years. My son has been after me to stop for two years. My last day will be March 31. I will miss them, but hope to lose some weight. I know they are bad!
Comment by dor4man
March 29, 2015
Thanks for definitive information on artificial sweeteners. I knew about aspertame but not the others, so armed with that info, I QUIT!! Also, I love my Nutribullet and Nutriblasts.
I have just start drinking diet coke cola's. I purchase the nuritbullet. How do I start with regularly with blood suger recipes.
Comment by JoieD
March 24, 2015
Monk fruit in the raw. Is this one okay to use?
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