So if sweeteners are so bad, why are so many people using them? Because they believe the alternative, weight gain, is worse. Think again: Research shows that people who use artificial sweeteners eat more than those that do not. We know that MSG, HFCS, and artificial sweeteners are all excitoxins, which means that they stimulate neurons to death. Excitoxins over-stimulate and damage the parts of the brain that regulate healthy eating behavior. In a study that included more than 18,000 people, researchers found that healthy adults who consumed at least one diet drink a day significantly increased their chances of gaining weight.
I find that my patients with the most intense food addictions consume diet soft drinks and diet gum in huge quantities. Many of them chew sugar free gum or drink diet soft drinks all day long. Some of them go through a pack of gum an hour while others have 5 to 10 cans of diet soft drinks a day and some do both. This is often a conscious decision to help them avoid eating. Of course, it doesn’t work. By evening, they are starving and usually end up overeating. For those with Bulimia, the intense hunger can trigger a binge/purge cycle. The research above would predict such an outcome. They are not experiencing normal hunger, they are voraciously hungry, psychologically and emotionally starving. This intense drive for food can take over their lives. They pass on social events, give up relationships and even put academic or career goals aside in the service of their nightly feeding ritual. At some point, they cannot wait until evening and that is when the addiction really becomes unmanageable.
“In a Purdue study, rats whose diets contained artificial sweeteners appeared to experience a physiological connection between sweet tastes and calories that drove them to overeat.”
The article goes on to say: “The information may come as a surprise to the 59 percent of Americans who consume diet soft drinks, making them the second-most-popular low-calorie, sugar-free products in the nation, according to a consumer survey from the Calorie Control Council, a nonprofit association that represents the low-calorie and reduced-fat food and beverage industry.”
(The Purdue’s researchers’ study, “A Pavlovian Approach to the Problem of Obesity,” appears in the July issue of International Journal of Obesity. Follow this link: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html4ever/2004/040629.Swithers.research.html)
Most of these sweeteners also contain MSG, known for its propensity to destroy the body’s natural weight regulatory systems, as well as for its potential to increase the odds of heart attack and stroke. Is it worth it? Of course not! But this isn’t like smoking or drinking. You know when you light up or take that drink that you are putting a toxin into your body. And you know that it might be habit forming. But who would think that organic baby food, milk, or chicken broth would have a carcinogenic, neurotoxin in it? No one would knowingly eat toxic food additives while pregnant or feed them to their newborn baby, let alone have a steady diet of them for themselves and their families. But that is what’s happening. The result is that majority of us have unknowingly become addicted to these substances. For many, the problems are so severe, and the causes so obscure, that they suffer life-threatening medical and/or psychological consequences before seeking help. The saddest thing is that they blame themselves. Who else are they going to blame, none of the food producers take responsibility. There appears to be no accountability whatsoever. And where is the FDA? Isn’t its sole purpose to protect the consumer?
There is an epidemic of obesity in this and every other country that has become westernized and adopted our eating habits. A man in France went to jail for actively protesting against having a Micky D’s put up in his town. We have much to learn from the French! Other countries have not been so fortunate to have a brave man like this Frenchman. We are in the top ten fattest countries in the world. Of the other nine, eight are countries that import our food and have adopted our lifestyles. What more is there to say?
Want to help? We are presently putting together a list of grocery store chains as well as specific food brands that do not contain MSG or HFCS. Please help us. If you are an organization that produces food without these additives, please contact us at the address on my website. We will publish the information if it checks out. If you are a consumer and you find a brand or a specific food item, let us know! We can help each other.
Here is something else to try. Be an proactive consumer. I have been asking my local grocer every time I shop there for the past 5 years if they carry a particular item in an organic version. Whether it has anything to do with my efforts or not, the organic section at my Krogers is getting bigger all the time. In the past 6 months, I have started asking if they can help me find a box of cereal, or carton of milk, or a drink, for example, with no MSG and no HFCS. The saddest thing is that most of the time, they genuinely have no idea what to look for. They almost always tell me that all of their organic products are free of these substances! When I explain to them that this not so, and point out how many organic foods contain those substances, they find it hard to believe. I patiently explain how many different names the substances have, and whip out my list. I’m quite sure that they take me for a flake. But as often as not I end up leaving it behind at their request. I often see them looking at the list and shaking their heads. It’s overwhelming and a bit daunting to see how far we have to go, but it’s a start. Don’t be discouraged at the lack of information. Five years from now, most people will know much more about these things. Right now, my grocers run when they see me coming. One manager waves the list at me from across the store. I’m not sure if he is trying to look cooperative, or if he is trying to discourage me from approaching him again! I do anyway 🙂
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