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The Sweet Pursuit

Former Associate editor Margret Aldrich on the hunt for happiness, community, and how humans thrive

Put Down the Diet Soda and Back Away

 by Julie Hanus

Tags: health and wellness, metabolism, artificial sweeteners, diet soda, digestion, discoveries, science, Science News, Julie Hanus,

lemonadeFor anyone who drinks diet soda or knows someone who does, this is news not to miss: Scientists have discovered that we have taste receptors in our stomach and intestines, according to Science News. In same the way that tastebuds send signals to pump saliva, chew, and swallow, gut taste cells help the body ramp up for digestion.

“When the gut’s taste sensors encounter something sweet, they send a ‘prepare for fuel’ missive that results in cranked-up insulin levels in the blood,” the biweekly reports. Insulin signals the body to draw glucose from the blood and store it in the muscles and liver. Except when the sweetener is artificial, the body gets all ready and then there’s no energy to harvest.

This is nascent research and more investigation will certainly come. But the discovery could shed light on recent studies that demonstrated a seemingly perplexing association between drinking diet beverages and developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. As Science News concludes:

So beware those little white lies. Thousands of years of evolution have yielded a finely tuned digestive machine, one that recognizes incoming energy and knows how to make the most of it. These intricate chains of events evolved during a time when that sweet zing reliably indicated food rich in valuable calories. And for thousands of years, the gut reacted appropriately.

Perhaps that adage “trust your gut” should be accompanied with another edict: “Tell it no lies.”

Source: Science News