Sayonara Saccharin

Finally, we may be on the verge of getting rid of those disgusting tasting sweeteners.
A study conducted at Purdue University in Indiana and funded by the school and the U.S. National Institutes of Health made an interesting discovery. Rats fed saccharin-sweetened madzoon before their regular meal gained more weight after five weeks than rats fed madzoon sweetened with glucose (the simplest form of sugar, what the body actually burns for fuel). The saccharin rats consumed more calories too.
So what does this mean for dieters? Nothing firm, YET. But if this kind of result is observed in studies with other sweeteners and in humans, then the notion that eating sugar-free foods helps lose weight will be relegated to the dust-bin of dieting history.
What the scientists observed was a smaller rise in body temperature after eating among the saccharin rats than among the glucose rats. Body temperature rises because energy is burned to digest food. This is significant because when the tongue conveys the message of “sweet”, the body expects a rush of calories. But when this doesn’t happen, as in the case of saccharin, the suspicion is the body de-links the “sweet-taste” trigger from the “calories-coming” reality. Thus, when calories eventually do come, the animal– rat or possibly human — is less prepared to burn them off. They’re stored, as fat.
Nobody really likes the taste of diet soda, heck diet anything. But we get used to it. Doing the Atkins Diet several years ago, I too developed a tolerance for diet soda. But muffins, and a whole host of foods, just don’t taste right with aspartame. Did you ever think or say, “Ooooh, yummy! Here comes the pakhlava with stevia syrup!”
These findings are in line with other observations of perverse dieting results. This may be biological cause of much frustration. It’s also the way that the multi-billion dollar diet foods industry keeps laughing all the way to the bank. Up to now, dieters’ gaining weight was suspected to be the result of the dieters’ own (mis-)behavior, i.e. midnight-snack-cheating. Now, we may be discovering otherwise.
Couple these results with material I’ve occasionally seen attributing other health risks to some of these sweeteners, and I can only cheer and hope for the doom of these substances. Most importantly, from a gustatory perspective, this is happening before the preparation of our, Armenian, foods has been tainted significantly by these substances. As it is the no/low fat craze has made inroads– think store-bought madzoon, or families’ sometimes excessive avoidance of butter/animal fat these days.
After all this, I should probably say to those with diabetic or other sugar/insulin issues, this news, sadly, doesn’t get you off the hook.
Let’s keep eating normal foods, freshly prepared, organically grown, minimally processed, preservative-free, not bioengineered (no Franken-foods), maybe even un-cloned, and TASTY. That’s what our bodies are designed to handle. Let’s keep our national cuisine unadultered.


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