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New Report Shows How You Get Addicted to Diet Soda

Diet SodaSurveys have found that people who drink diet beverages average more than 26 ounces per day, and some drink far more. About 3 percent of diet-soda drinkers have at least four daily.  

Some may be addicted to caffeine, but that doesn't explain those who prefer caffeine-free varieties. Experts say that people can become both psychologically and physically dependent on it.

They may get addicted to diet soda because they associate it with a certain activity or behavior. And research also suggests that the artificial sweeteners in diet soda may prompt people to drink more, because they aren't as satisfying. CNN reports:

"In other words, artificial sweeteners may spur drinkers -- or their brains -- to keep chasing a 'high' that diet soda keeps forever just out of reach ...

Whether you feel dependent or not, drinking too much diet soda might be risky in the long run. In recent years, habitual diet-soda consumption has been linked to an increased risk of low bone mineral density in women, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. What's more, a growing body of research suggests that excessive diet soda intake may actually encourage weight gain."

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The researchers from the University of San Diego study mentioned in the CNN article above uncovered a very telling difference between regular sugar (sucrose) and sucralose (Splenda) in their findings:

Only sucrose, but not sucralose, stimulation engages dopaminergic midbrain areas in relation to the behavioral pleasantness response. Thus, brain response distinguishes the caloric from the non-caloric sweetener, although the conscious mind could not.

This could have important implications on how effective artificial sweeteners are in their ability to substitute sugar intake.”

In other words, as far as “sweetness satisfaction” in the human brain is concerned, your brain can tell the difference between a real sugar and an artificial one, even if your conscious mind cannot. And artificial sweeteners seems to inspire more communication in the brain’s pleasure center, yet at the same time provides less actual satisfaction.

According to the author of the study:

Our hypothesis is that Splenda has less of a feedback mechanism to stop the craving, to get satisfied.”

The implications of this are both disturbing and profound.

First of all, this may explain why when you consume an artificial sweetener; your body craves both more of it along with more real sugar, because your brain is not satisfied at a cellular level by the sugar imposter!

This supports and explains the growing body of research that tells us artificial sweetener use actually leads to weight gain.

Also discussed in the article above is the fact that artificial sweeteners in recent years have been linked to an increased risk of low bone mineral density in women, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. This is actually just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health dangers linked to artificial sweeteners, which include sucralose (Splenda), aspartame, neotame, which I will discuss in more detail below.

Splenda, the Artificial Sweetener that Chemically Resembles DDT

Splenda is the brand name for the chemical compound called sucralose that is 600 times sweeter than sugar, and is the subject of many previous articles on my site, so if you’re just reading about Splenda for the first time, you might want to start here, and also this article for a primer on this dangerous additive that the FDA has allowed into your food supply.

It’s worth noting that Splenda is actually 99 percent sugar (dextrose and maltodextrin, which are derivatives of high-fructose corn syrup), with 1 percent sucralose added. This is how strong a sweetener sucralose actually is.

Economically using Splenda makes no sense, since it only saves you a handful of calories, and that isn’t even taking into consideration the health implications of using this toxic chemical!

Both sucralose and DDT are organochlorines, meaning they are in a class of man-made chemicals that have a chlorine molecule bonded to their chemical structure through synthetic processing (organochlorines are not found in nature).

Some other examples of organochlorines are a host of pesticides that have been banned worldwide because they disrupt both animal and human health, including being linked to the following:

  • Neurological damage
  • Cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Birth Defects
  • Respiratory Illness
  • Abnormal immune system function

The makers of Splenda insist that their organochlorine (sucralose) is not metabolized or absorbed by your body, despite the fact that their own research submitted to the FDA indicates that between 11-27% of Splenda IS absorbed and metabolized by your body. According to Betty Martini, founder of Mission Possible International:

Despite the manufacturer's claims to the contrary, sucralose is significantly absorbed and metabolized by the body. According to the FDA's "Final Rule" report, 11% to 27% of sucralose is absorbed in humans, and the rest is excreted unchanged in feces.

According to the Japanese Food Sanitation Council, as much as 40% of ingested sucralose is absorbed.” 

Plasma sucralose has been reported to have a half-life of anywhere from 2 to 5 hours in most studies, although the half-life in rabbits was found to be much longer at about 36 hours.” 

About 20% to 30% of absorbed sucralose is metabolized. Both the metabolites and unchanged absorbed sucralose are excreted in urine. The absorbed sucralose has been found to concentrate in the liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract. According to The Sucralose Toxicity Information Center, sucralose is broken down "into small amounts of 1,6-dichlorofructose, a chemical which has not been adequately tested in humans".

If you try searching for safety studies related to the long-term human consumption of 1,6 dichlorofructose, you won’t find any -- because they haven’t been conducted. Nor will the manufacturer of Splenda (Tate and Lyle) fund long-term health studies, because 1,6 dichlorofrutose is more closely related to DDT than it is to actual sugar.

The Health Dangers of Splenda

According to James Turner, the chairman of the national consumer education group Citizens for Health:

[Ingesting Splenda] is like putting a pesticide in your body. A person eating two slices of cake and drinking two cups of coffee containing Splenda would ingest enough sucralose to affect the P-glycoprotein, while consuming just seven little Splenda packages reduces good bacteria."

The web site lists a variety of consumer complaints from Splenda consumption, such as:

Gastrointestinal problems Blurred vision
Migraines Allergic reactions
Seizures Blood sugar increases
Dizziness Weight gain

My site also contains a long list of personal testimonials from readers who have suffered side effects from Splenda. In fact, we have more people on our site that have reported adverse reactions to Splenda than were formally studied in the research submitted for FDA approval!

The symptoms are so numerous I can't include them all here, but the following are common symptoms, usually noticed within a 24-hour period following consumption of Splenda products:

Skin -- Redness, itching, swelling, blistering, weeping, crusting, rash, eruptions, or hives (itchy bumps or welts). These are the most common allergic symptoms that people have. Stomach -- Bloating, gas, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or bloody diarrhea.
Lungs -- Wheezing, tightness, cough, or shortness of breath. Heart -- Palpitations or fluttering.
Head -- Swelling of the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, or throat; headaches and migraines (severe headaches). Blood sugar increases
Nose -- Stuffy nose, runny nose (clear, thin discharge), sneezing. Joints -- Joint pains or aches.
Eyes -- Red (bloodshot), itchy, swollen, or watery. Neurological -- Anxiety, dizziness, spaced-out sensation, depression.

Aspartame, the Neurotoxin that may Blind You

This video will familiarize you with some of the terrifying side-effects and health problems you could encounter if you consume products containing aspartame.

Unfortunately, aspartame toxicity is not well known by doctors, despite its frequency. Diagnosis is also hampered by the fact that it mimics several other common health conditions, such as:

Multiple sclerosis Parkinson's disease
Alzheimer's disease Fibromyalgia
Arthritis Multiple chemical sensitivity
Chronic fatigue syndrome Attention deficit disorder
Panic disorder Depression and other psychological disorders
Lupus Diabetes and diabetic complications
Birth defects Lymphoma
Lyme disease Hypothyroidism

One particularly horrifying side-effect of aspartame poisoning is sudden blindness. Just ask Edith Johnson:

I was horrified, I was panic stricken, I was scared to death,” says Edith Johnson in the video link provided above. “Within a matter of moments I went completely blind.”

Edith is talking about the experience she had while drinking a cup of low-calorie hot chocolate. “All of a sudden I couldn’t see. My eyes went out of focus. I think it’s very deliberately because of aspartame.”

Continues Edith, “they had no right to market it (aspartame). My message to people is to drink water. You don’t need aspartame in your life.”

So if you are consuming aspartame regularly and begin to notice any disturbing, life changing shifts in your health, be sure to bring a copy of this article to your doctor’s office, because he or she may not even suspect aspartame is the cause of your aspartame-related illness.

Neotame, the Newest Artificial Sweetener on the Block

Neotame is manufactured by combining aspartame with 3,3-dimethylbutyraldehyd, which was added to block enzymes that break the peptide bond between aspartic acid and phenylalanine, thereby reducing the availability of phenylalanine.

This eliminates the need for a warning on labels directed at people who cannot properly metabolize phenylalanine. Neotame received approval for general use from the FDA in 2002.

However, 3,3-dimethylbutyraldehyd is categorized as both highly flammable and an irritant, and carries risk statements for handling including irritating to skin, eyes and respiratory system.

In other words, the NutraSweet company who manufacturers neotame assures you that it’s perfectly safe, while at the same time they manufacture it through a chemical reaction between aspartame and a substance that is highly flammable and a skin, eye and respiratory irritant (that must be handled with extreme caution by anyone involved in the manufacturing process).

Does this sound like something you want to put into your body?

Artificial Sweetener Addiction Explained

The study cited by the CNN article above opens up a new possible explanation why artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain: They are addictive, both psychologically and physically, and lead to a blurring of your brain’s ability to respond to both real and artificial sugars.

According to Harold C. Urschel, an addiction psychiatrist in Dallas:

You think, ‘Oh, I can drink another one [diet soda] because I’m not getting more calories. Psychologically, you’re giving yourself permission.”

Yet the satisfaction your brain receives from the artificial sweetener doesn’t measure up to the satisfaction provided by real sugar. According to one of the authors of the study cited in the CNN article above, Martin P. Paulus, MD:

Your senses tell you there’s something sweet that you’re tasting, but your brain tells you, ‘Actually, it’s not as much of a reward as I expected.’ The consequence might be that the brain says, ‘Well, I’ll have more of this.”

"Artificial sweeteners have positive reinforcing effects -- meaning humans will work for it, like for other foods, alcohol, and even drugs of abuse. Whenever you have that, there is a potential that a subgroup of people ... will have a chance of getting addicted."

Adds Susan Swithers, PhD, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., also in the CNN article:

"The next time you go for a piece of fruit [or a non-diet soda], your history says, 'I don't know if this has calories or not,' so you track those calories less well, and you may eat more of them."

And the next thing you know, you are overeating real sugar due to your addiction to artificial sweeteners, and you are gaining weight. Along with also causing your body a virtual laundry list of potential health problems related to the consumption of artificial sweeteners in the first place.

Also, your diet soda addiction may grow if your brain links consumption with a certain type of behavior, again from Dr. Urschel:

"You can get into a situation where you crave a diet soda by conditioning yourself, [if] you stop for gas and always get a diet soda, the craving will start to come first, before you even pull into the station."

The take away message here is clear: You’re better off not using artificial sweeteners to begin with, and especially if you using them to try to lose weight.

Your Healthiest Alternatives

If you have a craving for sweets, rather than trying to find "healthier" ways to continue indulging in them, it is in your best interest to learn ways to relieve your cravings.  

The obvious one would be to stop eating any of the products to begin with. But sweets are powerfully addictive – sugar has even been shown to be more addictive than cocaine. Stevia is a preferable natural substitute, which can be used in making most dishes and drinks.  My favorite are the liquid stevias that come in flavors like English Toffee and French Vanilla.

However, complete avoidance of sweets is often necessary to break your addictive cycle, as your hormones insulin and leptin likely play an important role in your cravings.

If you are unable to achieve abstinence from sweets, your emotional connection to cravings might be an important factor for you. One of the most profound methods I know of for diminishing the effects of food cravings is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT is the psychological acupressure technique routinely used in my practice to help people reduce their cravings.

There is enough evidence showing the dangers of consuming artificial sweeteners to fill an entire book -- which is exactly why I wrote Sweet Deception.

If you or your loved ones drink diet beverages or eat diet foods, this book will explain how you've been deceived about the truth behind artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose -- for greed, for profits ... and at the expense of your own health.