It seems that their is huge controversy over the effectiveness of sugar substitutes. I have read everything on these different types of sweeteners in hopes of finding answers for both myself, and my clients. However, the research is quite confusing and it changes at such a rapid pace that it’s hard to keep up with. Here is the latest on sugar substitutes and your brain chemistry!
The whole point of sugar substitutes is to fool your body into thinking you are consuming sugar without get all those nasty calories with it. This new research focuses on the fact that even though the substitutes may fool your tastes buds, they aren’t fooling your brain or you appetite.
In a study done in the Netherlands, scientists gave a group of people two different drinks. One drink was a combination of artificial sweeteners that mimicked the taste of sugar. While the second, was a drink sweetened with sugar. When analysed, the tasters could not tell the difference between the 2 drinks. Then, they tested the brain waves of of the subjects during the taste tests. Although, the subjects could not tell the difference between the drinks, it seems the brain could!!!
Both sugar and the noncaloric sweeteners activated a brain region called the amygdala, which signals sensory pleasure. But only the sugared drink turned on a cherry-sized nugget of brain tissue in a region called the caudate.
That little nugget, Smeets concluded, seemed to represent an unconscious perception of calories — assessed quite separately from the sweet taste.
“We think the brain can distinguish, even if the people themselves cannot distinguish, between a caloric and a noncaloric sweet drink,” says Smeets, who presented his results at the Human Brain Mapping meeting in San Francisco in June (source).
To some this might seem like positive feedback for those who love sugar substitutes, but there is definitely a catch here! If the brain knows that you are not getting sugar but your tastes buds do; then there is a miscommunication! This glitch between the two could send you looking for extra sources of sugar to satisfy your “sweet tooth.”
If you read research or Fit Tip Daily 😉 then you can be aware of this kind of side affect and prepare yourself. However, if you don’t feel you have the energy or the self control to keep your hand out of the cookie jar then you might consider getting rid of sugar substitutes all together! This silent torture could all be avoided and lead to weight loss for the many people addicted to the various artificial sweeteners.