>Health and Nutrition>Why is diet Coke addicting?
Another problem with artificial sweeteners is a reflex that occurs when the brain reacts to sweet taste. The jargon used is "cephalic phase response". When sweet taste stimulates the tongue, the brain programs the liver to prepare for acceptance of new energy--sugar--from outside. If it is indeed sugar that stimulates the response, the effect on the liver will be the proper regulation of that sugar which has entered the body. However, if sweet taste is not followed by real nutrient availability, an urge to eat will be the outcome. It is the liver that produces the signals and the urge to eat. The more sweet taste that stimulates the taste buds without the accompanying calories, the more there is an urge to eat--overeat.
The effect of cephalic phase response to sweet taste has been clearly shown in animal models with the use of saccharin. Using aspartame, several scientists have shown a similar urge to overeat in humans. Blundel and Hill have shown that non-nutritive sweeteners (aspartame in solution) will enhance appetite and increase short-term food intake. They report: "After ingestion of aspartame, the volunteers were left with a residual hunger compared with what they reported after glucose. This residual hunger is functional, it leads to increased food consumption."
Another group of researchers, Tardoff and Friedman, have shown that this urge to eat more food after artificial sweeteners can last up to 90 minutes. They showed that even when blood levels for insulin achieved normal levels (a high reading of insulin is believed to be the cause of hunger), test animals consumed more food than the control batch. What this means is that the "brain" retains for a long time the urge to eat when the taste buds for sugar are stimulated without sugar having entered the system.
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