Diet sodas can make you fat and pre-diabetic

Regularly drinking diet soda and using artificial sweeteners can unwittingly sabotage your weight loss efforts.

Sure, artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, saccharine, and aspartame save on calories, but research shows they skew the composition of gut bacteria in a way that promotes obesity and diabetes.

Humans have trillions of bacteria that live in the gut, weighing in at 3 to 4 pounds. These bacteria have been found to have profound influence on human health and behavior. Not only do they provide vital nutrients and aid in the digestive process, gut bacteria also influence mental health, immune function, energy levels, and how well we burn or store fat.

Our gut bacteria consist of beneficial and harmful bacteria. The proportion of the many varieties of bacteria in our guts play a role in how our body and brain function.

As promising as the idea of zero-calorie drinks sound, they skew gut bacteria in a way that promotes high blood sugar. This in turn promotes insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, fat storage, and chronic inflammation.

Artificial sweeteners promote high blood sugar

In one study, groups of mice were given plain water, water with sugar added, or water with an artificial sweetener added. After 10 weeks the groups given the artificial sweeteners showed high blood sugar. Even a group of mice given a high-fat diet and sugar water maintained healthy blood sugar levels while the group given a high-fat diet and artificial sweeteners did not.

To further validate the research, scientists transplanted fecal matter from the mice given artificial sweeteners into germ-free mice. The germ-free, too, developed high blood sugar.

The researchers were able to replicate the findings in human volunteers, all of whom showed elevated blood sugar and alternations in their gut bacteria composition after just one week of consuming artificial sweeteners.

How to cultivate healthy gut bacteria

In addition to avoiding artificial sweeteners, there are other ways to grow your inner garden of gut flora to promote fat burning instead of weight gain. One of the best ways is to make vegetables the primary part of your diet, including cultured vegetables. Not only are they loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, they promote and maintain good gut bacteria. Also, avoid processed foods, sugars and sweeteners, and artificial additives to prevent bad bacteria from taking over and giving you health problems.

Ask my office for some probiotic supplement recommendations to further enhance your good gut bacteria.

Dr. David B. Tuchinsky, D.C., PLLC
St. Augustine Functional Medicine Practitioner, Speaker and Author
(904) 342-2783

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Dr. Tuchinsky

Dr. Tuchinsky has been “health coach” to thousands of local residents. He has been a popular author and lecturer and has been featured in print media and local TV.