Dr. Hyman, MD and author of The Blood Sugar Solution, posits that insulin imbalance is the major cause of weight issues, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and many other diseases. Craving sugar and refined carbohydrates and having low energy is not a natural state of being human, it’s a sign we are out of balance. While there are several key recommendations in his book, perhaps the simplest is dropping artificial sweeteners completely from your diet.

Dr. Hyman analyzed the data and the results are not good for diet drinks. “Those who consume diet drinks regularly have a 200 percent increased risk of weight gain, a 36 percent increased risk of pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, and a 67 percent increased risk of diabetes.” And on top of that, people who drink two diet drinks a day have five times the increase in waist circumference as people who do not drink diet drinks.

But perhaps the most shocking news, in a bizarre study involving of rats and cocaine, it seems given the choice of addictions the rats chose artificial sweeteners over cocaine. And these rats had been programmed to be addicted to cocaine. To quote the author of the study, “the absolute preference for the taste of sweetness may lead to a re-ordering in the hierarchy of potentially addictive stimuli, with sweetened diets taking precedence over cocaine and possibly other drugs of abuse. “

Bottom line: It’s time to give up artificial sweeteners like stevia, aspartame, xylitol and the like unless your goal is to gain weight, slow down your metabolism and become an addict.

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