Research findings published this week caused a slew of headlines all over the internet, regarding the adverse affect of artificial or zero calorie sweeteners on our health. The internet went a little crazy, sharing each article hundreds of thousands of times.
The thing is, this information isn’t new. I remember reading that 25% of people react the same way to sweeteners as they do to sugar and therefore find that if they avoid those sweeteners, they lose weight much more easily. Previous studies done on the use of artificial sweeteners have been successful in showing a link to adverse health effects in patients with, or prone to, metabolic syndrome (i.e., diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease). And the reason is far more complicated than we can imagine.
Essentially, the body will react in the same way to artificial sweeteners or zero calorie sweeteners, as it does to sugar. The complexity of this phenomenon requires more scientific study, as it clearly connects a physiological function (the conversion of carbs into glucose or “phantom carbs” in this case) with the mind. Even though you’re not really eating sugar, mentally you think that you are because it tastes the same. Your physical body is reacting to a conscious thought and it’s that connection that perplexes many scientists and doctors.
The fact that this connection goes beyond a simple weight loss stall or plateau, and extends to the progression and worsening of these metabolic diseases, means there is so much more we need to understand about the effect of sugar, carbohydrates and food on our mental and physical well-being. The addictive nature of carbohydrates and sugar must run much deeper than we know for this kind of connection to exist. Dare I suggest that perhaps food addiction is much more troubling and complex than an alcohol or drug addiction? Based on the above, I would be inclined to argue it just may be.