Dietary drinks consumed with carbohydrate-rich meals can have adverse effects

Studies on artificial sweeteners have often been contradictory, particularly with regard to the influence these substances can have on the brain but also on a metabolism team in general.
For example, some studies have shown that they can have negative effects on blood sugar levels and insulin, unlike other studies that have refuted these approaches.
In a new study, which appeared in Cell Metabolism, a team of researchers said that these discrepancies could be due to the fact that it was not considered together with what sweeteners, often used in diet drinks as a sugar substitute, are consumed.

“When we started doing this study, the question that prompted us was whether repeated consumption of an artificial sweetener would lead to a degradation in the predictive ability of sweet taste,” reports Dana Small, a neuroscientist and professor of psychiatry and director of Yale University’s Centre for Research on Diet and Modern Physiology. “This is important because the perception of sweet taste may lose the ability to regulate metabolic responses that prepare the body for glucose or carbohydrate metabolism in general.

This is why the researcher, together with her colleagues, analysed the effects of sweeteners on 45 volunteers aged between 20 and 45 who were not in the habit of consuming these sweeteners. People had no metabolic functions and a healthy weight.
Patients were allowed to consume fruit-flavoured sweet drinks with sucralose or table sugar for two weeks. There was then a control group whose components drank drinks with sucralose plus maltodextrin, a non-sweet carbohydrate.

The analysis, which also included brain scans to examine any changes in the brain in response to sweet tastes, showed that the subjects in the control group showed changes in the brain’s response to sweet taste and insulin sensitivity in the body as well as glucose metabolism. As a result of these results, the researchers added an additional control group whose participants had to drink for seven days drinks containing only maltodextrin.
The researchers found no evidence that the consumption of drinks with maltodextrin altered insulin sensitivity and the level of glucose metabolism.

“Perhaps the effect was derived from the intestine, which generated inaccurate messages to the brain about the number of calories present,” says Small. “The intestine would be sensitive to sucralose and maltodextrin and would report that twice as many calories are available than are actually present. Over time, these erroneous messages could produce negative effects by altering the way the brain and body respond to sweet taste.”

According to the researcher, you can drink a Diet Coke from time to time but its consumption should not be parallel to the consumption of something with a lot of carbohydrates: “If you’re eating chips, you’d better drink a Coke or better still water”.

In essence, drinking diet drinks, i.e. those with artificial sweeteners instead of the classic ones with normal sugars, together with carbohydrate-rich meals can damage the way the body metabolizes sugar and therefore paradoxically can lead to weight gain. So it is not the sweeteners themselves that are bad for you, but it is the combination with a carbohydrate-rich meal that can create problems.
However, the researcher says that these effects should be better analysed, especially if further experiments are carried out on mice.