In recent years, more and more studies on diet sodas and their effects on the human body have been an interest within the scientific community. Theories have been thrown back and forth, but no concrete correlation between obesity and diet sodas have been found…until now.
According to a recent study by Eran Segal and a group of Israeli scientists at the Weizmann Institute, the normal bacterium inside the stomach or ‘gut’ of the human body perform multiple actions, and vary slightly from one person to another. Gut bacteria work on different foods, fluids, and hormones in the human body. Thin people and obese people seem to have different sets of bacteria or ‘bugs’ in their guts; bugs that work differently and act on the body differently. Diet soda fits into this equation by making the population of intestinal bacteria resemble the bacteria profile of obese people.
It appears that the balance between two major subgroups of bacteria is responsible for themetabolic shift. The ratio of Bacteriodes and Firmicutes bacteria impacts how food is stored. As the level of Firmicutes outpaces the number of Bacteriodes in the GI tract, blood glucose increases, and more fat is stored in the body.
How to Fix It
This experiment has only been performed on animals to date, but the study strongly suggests that the artificial sweeteners within diet soda cause the growth of bacteria that makes human cells store fat metabolically, and possibly through hormones. The consumption of artificial sweeteners causes high levels of glucose within the body, which will be converted to stored fat. The increase in stored fat causes users gain weight and users are notably less satisfied after a meal, which can lead to overeating and more weight gain.
In severe cases, the Scientists at the Weizmann Institute found that this diet soda induced trend can be reversed by the use of antibiotics to clean up the gut flora. This allows time for the stomach to revert to its ‘normal’ state. To prevent the shift in balance, persons who regularly drink diet sodas are encouraged to avoid diet sodas with artificial sweeteners. A popular alternatives to reach, for when soda cravings hit, is plain soda water (or sparking water) with fresh lemon.
More scientific research can be found on this subject by examining the original study for more details on the experiment. – Computational biologist Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, one of the two scientists leading the study: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/artificial-sweeteners-may-change-our-gut-bacteria-in-dangerous-ways/ .