The brain wants sugar as a reward, not an artificial sweetener, says a new study. Your body may be reacting to artificial sweeteners as if you were wolfing down lots of sugar, but your brain can't be fooled. You're more likely to choose sugar over artificial sweeteners if you're hungry. The brain cannot be fooled by artificial sweeteners because they lead to a higher likelihood of sugar consumption later.The results of a new study imply that it is hard to fool the brain by providing it with 'energyless' sweet flavors. Our pleasure in consuming sweet solutions is driven to a great extent by the amount of energy it provides: greater reward in the brain is attributed to sugars compared to artificial sweeteners.
Eating low-calorie sweetened products -- especially when hungry or exhausted -- may lead to a higher likelihood of seeking high calorie alternatives later, due to a newly discovered signal in the brain, suggests new research published today, September 22, 2013 in The Journal of Physiology.
Professor Ivan de Araujo, who led the study at Yale University School of Medicine USA, explains in the September 22, 2013 news release, The brain cannot be fooled by artificial sweeteners, "The consumption of high-calorie beverages is a major contributor to weight gain and obesity, even after the introduction of artificial sweeteners to the market. We believe that the discovery is important because it shows how physiological states may impact on our choices between sugars and sweeteners. Also check out a July 2013 study, "Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements."
"Specifically, it implies that humans frequently ingesting low-calorie sweet products in a state of hunger or exhaustion may be more likely to 'relapse' and choose high calorie alternatives in the future. The results suggest that a 'happy medium' could be a solution; combining sweeteners with minimal amounts of sugar so that energy metabolism doesn't drop, while caloric intake is kept to a minimum."
The study identified a specific physiological brain signal that is critical for determining choice between sugars and sweeteners
This signal regulates dopamine levels – a chemical necessary for reward signaling in the brain – and only arises when sugar is broken down into a form where it is usable as fuel for cells of the body to function. Research was performed in mice, using a combination of behavioral testing involving sweeteners and sugars, while measuring chemical responses in brain circuits for reward. The researchers believe the findings are likely to reflect in humans.
Professor de Araujo says in the news release, "According to the data, when we apply substances that interfere with a critical step of the 'sugar-to-energy pathway', the interest of the animals in consuming artificial sweetener decreases significantly, along with important reductions in brain dopamine levels.
"This is verified by the fact that when hungry mice – who thus have low sugar levels – are given a choice between artificial sweeteners and sugars, they are more likely to completely switch their preferences towards sugars even if the artificial sweetener is much sweeter than the sugar solution." Now that the team knows that dopamine cells are critical in sugar/sweetener choice, they hope to identify the associated receptors and pathways in the brain.
The dark side of artificial sweeteners
You need to limit your intake of all sweeteners, not only sugar. More and more Americans are consuming artificial sweeteners as an alternative to sugar, but whether this translates into better health has been heavily debated. An opinion article published by Cell Press on July 10, 2013 in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism reviews surprising evidence on the negative impact of artificial sweeteners on health, raising red flags about all sweeteners—even those that don't have any calories, says a new study reported in the July 10, 2013 news release, "The dark side of artificial sweeteners." The new study "Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements," by authors Swithers et al. is published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism," Cell Press.
"It is not uncommon for people to be given messages that artificially-sweetened products are healthy, will help them lose weight or will help prevent weight gain," says author Susan E. Swithers of Purdue University, according to the news release. "The data to support those claims are not very strong, and although it seems like common sense that diet sodas would not be as problematic as regular sodas, common sense is not always right."
Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome—a group of risk factors that raises the risk for heart disease and stroke
As a result, many Americans have turned to artificial sweeteners, which are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar but contain few, if any, calories. However, studies in humans have shown that consumption of artificially sweetened beverages is also associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome as well as cardiovascular disease. As few as one of these drinks per day is enough to significantly increase the risk for health problems.
Moreover, people who regularly consume artificial sweeteners show altered activation patterns in the brain's pleasure centers in response to sweet taste, suggesting that these products may not satisfy the desire for sweets. Similarly, studies in mice and rats have shown that consumption of noncaloric sweeteners dampens physiological responses to sweet taste, causing the animals to overindulge in calorie-rich, sweet-tasting food and pack on extra pounds.
Taken together, the findings suggest that artificial sweeteners increase the risk for health problems to an extent similar to that of sugar and may also exacerbate the negative effects of sugar. "These studies suggest that telling people to drink diet sodas could backfire as a public health message," Swithers says in the July 10, 2013 news release, The dark side of artificial sweeteners. "So the current public health message to limit the intake of sugars needs to be expanded to limit intake of all sweeteners, not just sugars."
What can children interested in nutrition do to promote awareness about honeybees?
Is your child also interested in honey bee hive nutrition? Honeybees should be on everyone's worry list, and not because of the risk of a nasty sting, an expert on the health of those beneficial insects said here last week at the 246th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. You also can view the archived video on ustream of last week's live press conference on what's happening to the honeybees. See, "The real reason to worry about bees."
Honey bees should be on everyone's worry list, and not because of the risk of a nasty sting, an expert on the health of those beneficial insects. Despite years of intensive research, scientists do not understand the cause, nor can they provide remedies, for what is killing honey bees.
Set aside the fact that the honeybee's cousins — hornets, wasps and yellow jackets — actually account for most stings, said Richard Fell, Ph.D. Despite years of intensive research, scientists do not understand the cause, nor can they provide remedies, for what is killing honeybees.
Honeybees pollinate fruit
"Some estimates put the value of honeybees in pollinating fruit, vegetable and other crops at almost $15 billion annually," Fell said in the September 10, 2013 news release, The real reason to worry about bees. "Without bees to spread pollen from the male parts of plants to the female parts, fruit may not form. That would severely impact consumers, affecting the price of some of the healthiest and most desirable foods."
So even if you're vegan, you don't have to eat honey, but your family members need to know that fruit is pollinated by honeybees. Vegetables also are pollinated by honeybees.
Farmers use honeybees to pollinate more than 100 different fruit and vegetable crops around the country in an approach known as "managed pollination." It involves placing bee hives in fields when crops are ready for pollination
"The biggest impacts from decreased hive numbers will be felt by farmers producing crops with high pollination requirements, such as almonds. Consumers may see a lowered availability of certain fruits and vegetables and some higher costs," explained Fell in the September 10, 2013 news release "The real reason to worry about bees."
He discussed the ongoing decline in honeybee populations in the U.S. and some other countries — a condition sometimes termed colony collapse disorder (CCD). Although honeybees have been doing better in recent years, something continues to kill about 1 in every 3 honeybees each year. He spoke at a symposium on the topic.
Misinformation abounds about the bee colony decline
"There is a good bit of misinformation in the popular press about CCD and colony decline, especially with regard to pesticides," Fell said in the news release. He is an emeritus professor of entomology at Virginia Tech, and an authority on colony decline in bees.
"I think it is important to emphasize that we do not understand the causes of colony decline and CCD and that there are probably a number of factors involved," he explained in the news release. "Also, the factors that trigger a decline may be different in different areas of the country and at different times of year."
Some of the leading theories about the cause of CCD include the use of certain pesticides, parasites, diseases and overall hive nutrition
Beekeeper and other organizations are pushing to stop the sale of certain neonicotinoids, insecticides that some regard as the main culprit of CCD. However, Fell said that would be premature. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reviewed the situation and concluded that there is no scientific evidence that the neonicotinoids are causing serious problems with bee colonies. You can read the entire abstract of the study. Just scroll down the page to the abstract titled, "Honey bee colony health, bee decline, and pesticides."
Some of the topics in the abstract include the topic, "Is planting corn killing bees?" Kevin Neal, Department of Biochemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana explained that in the spring of 2012 the Office of Indiana State Chemist (OISC) investigated several incidents wherein beekeepers believed they were suffering losses to bee hives during planting season for corn.
Dead and dying bees were gathered. Analysis in the OISC residue lab significant levels of clothianidin were found in the bees, pollen, and also in and around the hives. Clothianidin is the active ingredient in a seed treatment process for corn and it appears that the dust from the planting corn was exposing bees to this insecticide. Results of the investigations by OISC investigators were presented at this press conference.
Another topic to check out at the site is "Pesticide residues in bee hives: What levels are of concern?"
Honeybees are not the only species of bee that can be used in managed pollination. If colonies continue declining, Fell believes that there will be an increase in the use of other species, including the bumble bee and alfalfa leafcutter bee. There are, however, measured declines in these species' populations as well. In addition, they are not as easily managed for pollination as the honeybee.
"The major advantages of using honeybees are ease of movement, both in and out of orchards or fields, as well as the ability to manage colonies for higher populations. Honeybee colonies can be moved from one crop to another in a single season, something that cannot be done easily with bumble bees or solitary bee species such as the alfalfa leafcutter bee," explained Fell. "If we can gain a better understanding of the factors causing honeybee decline, we may be able to apply this knowledge to protecting other species."
Also check out the abstract on "Pollinators, pesticides, and pathogens: Linking honey bee colony health to chemical exposures" given by Troy D Anderson, Department of Entomology and Fralin Life Science Institute, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia. And see the section on "Large-scale field study examining potential impacts on honey bees of exposure to clothianidin seed-treated canola," by G Christopher Cutler.
A press conference on this topic was held Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 at 10 a.m. in the American Chemical Society (ACS) Press Center, Room 211, in the Indiana Convention Center. There also was live audio and video of the event at the ustream site during that press conference. See the video, See, "The real reason to worry about bees."
Fell cited funding from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the National Honey Board, the Virginia Agricultural Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.