Diet soda sweetener may cause weight gain or not and the true of Aspartame. Aspartame is a common sugar substitute used as a sweetener in many prepared foods and beverages, particularly diet soda. It is a common choice for those trying to lose weight, as it lowers the number of calories in food.
However, new research suggests the sweetener may be ineffective for weight loss, and it may even have the opposite effect.
The researchers were led by Dr. Richard Hodin, from the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery suggest a sweetener commonly used in diet soda may cause weight gain. Their research – published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism – suggests one of aspartame’s metabolites may play a role.
Other studies in rodents have shown that compared with sugar, sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame causes weight gain instead of weight loss.
Reasons why this may happen are not entirely clear, but a team of researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital decided to investigate why aspartame does not promote weight loss.
Studying aspartame intake in mice
One of the breakdown products of aspartame is phenylalanine, an inhibitor of a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphates (IAP) that has been shown to prevent metabolic syndrome in mice.
Metabolic syndrome is a generic name given to a group symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.
Based on this known relationship between IAP, phenylalanine, and aspartame, researchers hypothesized that consuming aspartame may promote metabolic syndrome because of its inhibition of phenylalanine.
For the study, researchers added aspartame to diet and regular soda, before measuring IAP activity in mice.
The normal-diet group that received aspartame consumed the equivalent of 3 ½ cans of diet soda every day. The group that was on a high-fat diet received aspartame in doses the equivalent to almost two cans of diet soda.
The mice were monitored for 18 weeks.
Aspartame does not help with weight loss
Dr. Hodin and team found that IAP activity was reduced when it was added to a drink containing aspartame, but IAP levels remained the same when IAP was added to a drink containing sugar.
Researchers injected aspartame into the mice’s small intestines, where IAP is normally produced. They found this reduced IAP levels.
At the end of the 18-week period, there was no significant difference between the weights of the two groups that were fed a regular diet.
However, mice on a high-fat diet that received aspartame gained more weight than mice that did not receive aspartame.
Mice that received the sweetener also had higher blood sugar than those without aspartame.
They also had higher levels of the TNF-alpha inflammatory protein in their blood, which is usually associated with metabolic syndrome.
Aspartame blocks enzyme that prevents obesity
Inside the human body, aspartame is metabolized and broken down into phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. Phenylalanine and aspartic acid are amino acids that are naturally present in many protein-containing foods.
However, phenylalanine inhibits the production of IAP.
While the researchers admit that other contributing factors may play a role, Dr. Hodin emphasizes that the findings “clearly show that aspartame blocks IAP activity, independent of other effects.”
Source: Ana Sandoiu