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Dr. Oz: Lose weight by avoiding diet soda and eating Paleo-friendly honey

Step away from that soda: Find out why in the article.
Step away from that soda: Find out why in the article.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Do you really know what's in the food and beverages that you buy at the grocery store? Dr. Mehmet Oz warned about a new addictive ingredient and discussed how honey can boost your weight loss on his August 5 talk show. Plus: Learn about a soda tax that some registered dietitians oppose.

The newest additive that concerns Dr. Oz is called Sweetmyx, which is designed to enhance sweet flavors. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows companies to determine that an ingredient is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) without involving the FDA.

Although the FDA says that it requires companies to perform due diligence to rate it as GRAS, the current regulations allow questionable ingredients to be included in food products. And Dr. Oz feels that's precisely the case with Sweetmyx, which has the potential to be as addictive as sugar.

PepsiCo Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi has said that she hopes the ingredient, which the company calls a "flavor modifier," will boost soda sales. "We see strong potential with Sweetmyx, and this provides us with yet another option for our innovation teams to develop flavor systems that help meet consumer desire for tasty beverages with less sugar and lower calories," said PepsiCo in a statement.

Many companies currently use other artificial sweeteners in their diet sodas. Dr. Oz recommends avoiding those beverages as well as all fake sweeteners, based on several studies showing that they are linked to weight gain.

Researchers at Purdue University conducted a study to determine how these low-calorie and zero-calorie beverages impact your weight. After studying more than 10 diet soda studies, they determined that diet soda is bad for your health and waistline.

"Honestly, I thought that diet soda would be marginally better compared to regular soda in terms of health," said Susan Swithers, a behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychological sciences, in a CNN interview. "But in reality it has a counterintuitive effect."

Rather than use artificial sweeteners or sugar, Dr. Oz said he recommends honey, which he feels boosts weight loss. Twice as sweet as sugar, honey can make a healthy slimming substitute because you can use smaller amounts in your cooking, baking and beverages, says Dr. Oz.

In addition, Dr. Oz believes in the Paleo philosophy that unprocessed foods are healthier. Honey requires less processing than sugar, so that it has more ingredients. He suggests choosing raw honey whenever possible.

And while Dr. Oz is doing his share to try to wean the nation from their soft drinks, Connecticut congresswoman Rosa DeLauro wants to take it a step further. She's championing a 14-page bill called the SWEET act, which if passed would result in a 15 cent tax on 20-ounce bottles of soda, reported the Washington Post on August 5.

The bill is intended to give Americans a reason beyond their health to cut down on their consumption. We currently drink almost 75 percent more soda than we did in 1970, according to market research firm Euromonitor.

Compare that to the research showing that adults age 20 and older are twice as likely to be obese as they were four decades ago, and it would seem obvious that taxing soda is a good health measure. Moreover, the money from the tax would help with such positive causes as helping channel nutritious food to schools and low-income families.

But some health experts are against the tax, noted Dr. Yoni Freedhoff in an August 5 blog. A group of registered dietitians immediately responded to the SWEET Act introduction with tweets against it.

"We can educate instead of regulate. Much more effective than a tax," argued registered dietitian Jen Haugen in one of the tweets, all of which sounded oddly similar.

Here's a hint: Most included the word "client," which means that those tweets were posted by dietitians who represent companies or individuals who would be adversely impacted by a soda tax.