What drinking diet cooldrink does to your body and brain

Business Insider US

  • Drinking diet cooldrinks is associated with metabolic syndrome 
  • A study found diet cooldrink drinkers had a higher risk of a stroke and dementia 
  • Diet cooldrink drinkers run the risk of becoming overweight 

Can you tell the difference between a glass of regular and diet cooldrink? Turns out, neither can your body. And that’s where the trouble starts.

Until recently, everything we ate contained some amount of kilojoules. When we ate something sweet, for example, the brain sent signals to our pancreas. Which started producing insulin, that stored the sugar molecules in our cells for energy.

So, when we drink diet cooldrink, the sweetness tricks our body into thinking it’s real sugar. But when those energy-packed kilojoules don’t arrive, the insulin has nothing to store.

Scientists think that repeatedly tricking our body this way could explain why study after study keeps finding the same thing: that drinking diet cooldrink is associated with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a mix of conditions that includes: increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and weight gain. Which can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

In fact, one study found that diet cooldrink drinkers had a higher risk of stroke and dementia than regular cooldrink drinkers. And for another 8-year-long study between 1979-1988, participants who started out at a normal weight and drank an average of 21 diet cooldrinks a week faced DOUBLE the risk of becoming overweight or obese by the end of the study, compared to people who avoided diet beverages completely.

And while drinking diet cooldrinks with a meal may sound like a tasty, kilojoule-free alternative to plain water, a growing body of research is starting to find that this may be the WORST time to drink it. Because the fake kilojoules in the diet cooldrink could ultimately disrupt how many of the real kilojoules we metabolise. Potentially leaving excess kilojoules behind that we then store as fat.

Another issue could be the fact that artificial sweeteners in diet cooldrinks can be tens to hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. So when we taste it, our brains anticipate more kilojoules than what we give it. It’s like when you go to a party expecting loads of food and you end up with a handful of veggies and vegan cheese. You’re left unsatisfied and hungry. In the same way, artificial sweeteners can leave our brains wanting more, which studies have shown leads to increased appetite, and potential weight gain, in fruit flies, mice, and humans.

So if the reason you’re drinking diet cooldrink is to drop a few kilograms, maybe stick to water.

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