Reviews in both animals and humans have pointed out that ingesting artificial sweeteners could make you feel hungry and without a doubt eat more. A comprehensive study by researchers from the University of Sydney has published recently why this response occurs.
Published in the Journal Cell Metabolism, the results highlight how artificial sweeteners affect the brain in regulating appetite and in modifying taste sensations. Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have identified a new method in the brain that senses and integrates the calories and sweetness of meals.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Greg Neely from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science remarks, After chronic exposure to a diet that contained the artificial sweetener sucralose, we saw that animals began eating a lot more. Through systematic investigation of this effect, we found that inside the brain’s reward centres, sweet sensation is integrated with energy content. When sweetness versus energy is out of balance for a period of time, the brain recalibrates and increases total calories consumed.
Hunger From Sweeteners
In this particular study, fruit flies that have been exposed to food with artificial sweetener for prolonged durations (more than 5 days) had been observed to devour 30 percent more calories after they have been given naturally sweetened food. The author again remarked, When we investigated why animals were eating more even though they had enough calories, we found that chronic consumption of this artificial sweetener actually increases the sweet intensity of real nutritive sugar, and this then increases the animal’s overall motivation to eat more food.
Many people consume artificial sweeteners and they’re prescribed as a tool to deal with weight problems, despite little evidence on their impact on the brain and in regulating starvation. This is the first research to establish how artificial sweeteners can stimulate appetite, with researchers deciding upon a difficult neuronal network that responds to artificially sweetened food by means of telling the animal that it still lacks energy.
According to the author Using this response to artificially sweetened diets, we were able to functionally map a new neuronal network that balances food’s palatability with energy content. The pathway we discovered is part of a conserved starvation response that actually makes nutritious food taste better when you are starving.
Another author further remarked, These findings further reinforce the idea that ‘sugar-free’ varieties of processed food and drink may not be as inert as we anticipated. Artificial sweeteners can actually change how animals perceive the sweetness of their food, with a discrepancy between sweetness and energy levels prompting an increase in caloric consumption”
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Reference: Science Daily
Written By: Dr. Marie Gabrielle Laguna Bedia