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Dr. Oz: Ditch diet soda for weight loss; diabetes and artificial sweeteners

Beware of sugar substitutes, says Dr. Oz.
Beware of sugar substitutes, says Dr. Oz.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ever since the advent of the first diet sodas, consumers have been happily gulping down the sugar-free bubbly as part of their weight loss endeavors. But the artificially sweetened contents of those cans may actually be ruining your metabolism and making you fat, warned Dr. Mehmet Oz on his August 13 talk show.

When an audience member confessed that she sometimes drinks a liter of diet soda daily, Dr. Oz said he was extremely concerned. He cited a study showing that people who drink two diet sodas daily experience a 500 percent increase in their waistlines over a 10-year period. Even just one soda a day results in a 70 percent increase.

Could you be addicted to diet soda? Yes, said Dr. Oz. The combination of bubbles and artificial sweeteners confuse your brain, making you crave more.

But even if you stop drinking diet sodas and keep using artificial sweeteners, you still can have problems with weight loss, says Dr. Oz. He advises eliminating both completely from your diet.

Food addiction expert Dr. Mike Dow, author of "Diet Rehab," told Dr. Oz that diet sodas cause cravings for sweet foods. By eliminating them, you can improve your overall diet because your taste buds will more easily detect the natural sweetness in low calorie foods such as tomatoes.

To kick your diet soda habit, Dr. Oz suggests gradually cutting down your intake. Mix diet soda with plain seltzer, then reduce your consumption until you are drinking only water.

While studies have linked diet soda and artificial sweeteners to weight gain, not everyone is convinced that those with diabetes need to avoid artificial sweeteners. Now a new study has shown that desserts containing sucralose (sold commercially as Splenda), do not affect blood sugar levels, reported Diabetes Health News on August 13.

Researchers at the Diabetes Center of the General Hospital of Nikaea in Greece prepared special desserts for participants with type 2 diabetes. The desserts with sucralose and soluble fiber did not affect the post-meal levels of glucose, insulin or C-peptide. In addition, the participants who ate those sugar-free desserts had lower levels of blood glucose and insulin levels when compared with those who ate desserts with sugar.

"Even though this research was short term, this study adds to the growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that sucralose can play an important role in the management of diabetes," said Haley Curtis Stevens, Ph.D., President of the Calorie Control Council. The study was published in the Review of Diabetic Studies from the Society for Biomedical Diabetes Research.

However, the study did not appear to factor in the possibility that the soluble fiber compensated for the sucralose. Purdue University researchers conducted a study indicating that artificial sweeteners are linked to both weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

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