Health & Fitness

Why artificial sweeteners encourage weight gain

BY MICHAEL ROIZEN, M.D., AND MEHMET OZ, M.D.

King Features Syndicate

When Dustin Hoffman’s 2007 flop “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” opened, The New York Post called it “an assault on artificial sweetness.” Tough criticism.

Today we know that artificial sweeteners should be assaulted (but no one really knew it nine years ago). That’s because we now have lab-based evidence and a precise explanation of how artificial sweeteners in diet drinks and candies, yogurts and even English muffins are doing more harm than good to your waistline and making your RealAge older.

According to Australian researchers from the University of Sydney, the brain contains a complex neuronal network where the balance between sweetness and calorie intake is assessed. If the balance is out of whack (too much artificial sweet flavor, not enough calories) your brain instructs your body to get more fuel on board! That leads to overeating and weight gain. And, add the researchers, artificial sweeteners also contribute to hyperactivity, insomnia and decreased sleep quality.

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy sweet flavors; in fact, you should -- as long as they don’t come from added sugars or syrups or artificial sweeteners. Instead opt for 1 ounce of 70 percent cacao dark chocolate a day; enjoy two to four servings of fresh fruit (there’s nothing like a ripe peach!); and get into the subtle sweetness of whole grains and veggies like bell peppers and roasted carrots. If you give your palate time to recover from being overdosed on artificial and added sweets, you’ll find the sweetness of natural foods to be deeply satisfying.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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