You may think you’re making a healthier choice by going with the diet soda at lunch, but new research now suggests diet drinks contribute to harmful belly fat. Artificial sweeteners are now being linked to all kinds of health risks like obesity, kidney dysfunction, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and now belly fat.
Forbes reports about the study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that looked at the connection between artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks and belly fat. Researchers followed 750 people over the age of 65 for 10 years and found that those who drank the most diet soda had significant gains in waist circumference over the course of the decade as compared to others who don’t drink diet soft drinks.
A link between belly fat and diet soda is a very important finding since belly fat is known to be the most dangerous type of fat that can lead to heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Why artificial sweeteners can lead to increased belly fat is not yet known but there are some theories that it may have something to do with the bacteria found in the gut.
The acidity found in diet soft drinks may also play a role in shifting the delicate system of our guts’ bacteria and digestion. Author of the study Sharon Fowler explains, “The gut microbiome is like our personal inner rainforest. If our intestines are like an ecosystem, then highly acidic drinks like sodas day after day, may be comparable to acid rain. To borrow from Austin Powers, it’s not a ‘consequence-free environment.”
And another theory why diet drinks may lead to belly fat and diabetes is because they are sending super sweet messages to our bodies. Fowler explains, “We have sweet receptors not just on our tongues but also our intestines and pancreas. If these sweets receptors are getting hyper-activated, they may be triggering the release of insulin when the body doesn’t really need it.”
What do you think of the new study that suggests artificially sweetened soda can increase belly fat?
What type of beverages do you drink throughout the day?