The Skinny on Fake Sugar

“Sugar is for the body…

as narcissism is for the soul. Both pleasures kill.” – Robin Sacredfire

Many common food substances (sugar, sweeteners, fats, and salt) have been compared to drugs typically abused by humans such as alcohol or opioids. These drugs are often characterized as addictive due to continued use despite recurrent negative consequences (abuse) and physiological dependence (tolerance). More recent questions center on whether food substances can prompt similar addictive processes. We are going to look specifically at artificial sweeteners and what they do to derail your sugar-free train.

Food reward shares brain circuitry with other pleasurable activities such as sex and drug use as well as other addictive behaviors such as binging, restricting, and craving – we now know that both trigger an abrupt release of dopamine into the brain which makes us go ahhhhhhhh. But we already know this so why are we learning about it AGAIN? Learning about food reward has become a priority in understanding the addictive effects of food on the body. And this is KEY when it comes to artificial sweeteners.

Food reward is a two-part process in our bodies – first, our bodies are alerted to food intake through our sensory pathways. This preps our postingestive pathway to ready itself for the intake of energy (calories). Here’s the crazy part. As you know, artificial sweeteners were created to REMOVE excess calories we were consuming when we ate sugar without removing the sweetness that we crave in palatable foods. Thus, artificial sweeteners INTERRUPT the food reward cycle and it looks like this: our sensory pathways are triggered and our postingestive pathways are waiting for the calories to come in BUT THEY NEVER DO. Those pathways are left high and dry and they are STILL HUNGRY so they signal an SOS to our brains to find more food!

Artificial, no-calorie sweeteners can actually cause weight GAIN. What’s this you say?? If you read what we just wrote, then you know what happens when we are left hungry: we go in search of the foods needed to replace the emptiness left behind by no-calorie sweeteners. And guess what? Because our sugary pleasure centers have been activated, what do you think we want more of?

If eating more sugar while the intention was to eat less or NONE wasn’t enough to drag you out of your artificial sweetener addiction, then maybe this will help: they also cause GI irritation. That’s right folks! They make you fart. Not the worst thing for your waistline, but it can have a severe effect on your relationships!

Take it from us Buddies! Steer clear of the artificial sweeteners and sugar in general! You might feel frustration with us at first but you will thank us later!

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash