A recent commentary by Dr. Victor S. Sierpina, WD, and Laura Nell Nicholson, Family Professor of Integrative Medicine and Professor of Family Medicine at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), provides important health-related explanations about the association between no-calorie soft drinks, weight and gut bacteria.
Although food industry invented the so called no-calorie soft drinks as a healthier alternative to high sweetened drinks, according to Dr. Sierpina, these new options are actually responsible for stimulating people’s desires to taste sweetness, highly contributing to weight gain and diabetes.
In his commentary, recently published in the UTMB Newsroom, Dr. Sierpina highlights that sweet foods, including no-calorie sweet drinks, are responsible for the activation of sequential digestive processes, enzymes and hormones, such as insulin, that account for weight gain and diabetes. The gut and endocrine response to alkaline or bitter foods like vegetables, grain, legumes and other plants, is very different to no-calorie sweet drinks’ biological responses.
According to the author, these drinks can change the profile of gut bacteria, the so-called microbiome, one of the largest human “organs,” containing nearly 150 times as much DNA as the human genome.
In order to promote a healthy digestion, the body needs to metabolize food through a healthy microbiome. However, when artificial components are added to a diet, they alter the microbiome and the digestive process becomes defective, maintaining a false sensation of hunger.
According to Dr. Sierpina, evidence from mice studies has shown that obesity could be prevented if genes were protected with healthy gut bacteria from lean mice. In addition, thin mice inoculated with microbiome from obese mice has a tendency to become obese or diabetic. Human studies further confirm this tendency.
Dr. Sierpina stresses that probiotic supplements and a healthy diet can change the human microbiome. High sugar and fat food normally promote a population of Bacteroides strains of bacteria, while a healthy diet fosters bacteria from the Firmicutes class. A healthy diet, high in fruits, vegetables and grains, can protect from diabetes, cancer, heart disease and inflammations, by promoting healthy gut bacteria.
In his commentary, Dr. Sierpina, recommends the abolition of no-calorie sweet drinks, and suggests supplementation with high quality probiotics at least three to 20 billion units daily. Furthermore, he states that healthy options for sweetened drinks include at least 64 daily ounces of water, which can be infused with citrus, cucumber or berries; sparkling water with lemon, lime, or dash of bitters; tea that can be green, herbal or black, sweetened with agave, stevia or honey, and fruit or vegetable juices.