Next time you find someone ordering a Diet Coke or similar low calorie soft drink alternative, have a quiet word in their ear.
Diet soft drinks have long existed as a guilt-free way for people to enjoy some of their favourite fizzy drink brands.
What many may not realise, however, is that these low calorie alternatives could actually be more harmful for their weight than the full sugar versions.
It’s all about the presence of a sweetener called aspartame which researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital reckon could actually contribute to weight gain rather than weight loss.
As part of an experiment conducted by the US-based researchers, lab mice were given aspartame in their drinking water.
The researchers found that these mice actually gained more weight compared with those who were on a similar high-fat diet but not being fed the sweetener.
“We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase”
According to lead author of the study, Dr Richard Hodin, it’s all about enzymes.
Writing in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, Dr Hodin said:
“We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) that we previously showed can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome; so we think that aspartame might not work because it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP.”
“While we can’t rule out other contributing mechanisms, our experiments clearly show that aspartame blocks IAP activity.”
It might be time to ditch the soft drinks in favour of something a little healthier and refreshing. It’s called water and, best of all, it’s completely free.