Carbonation Alters Our Brain’s Sugar Radar: Cause for Concern?

As much as humans love good-tasting tamales and ribs, we also love food that detonates in our mouth with an explosive crunch, crackle or carbonated fizz.

Now, some scientists have poked their noses into the workings of carbonation and discovered it changes our brain’s perception of sweetness. Carbonation makes it problematic for our brain to discern the difference between artificial sweeteners and sugar.

Is this a problem? As with many things, there is no definitive answer.

Accentuating the Positive

The positive point of this research is that people who need to watch calories will choose diet drinks because they taste as good as the sugared ones.

“This study proves that the right combination of carbonation and artificial sweeteners can leave the sweet taste of diet drinks indistinguishable from normal drinks,” said the Rosario Cuomo, the study’s author.

“Tricking the brain about the type of sweet could be advantageous to weight loss — it facilitates the consumption of low-calorie drinks because their taste is perceived as pleasant as the sugary, calorie-laden drink.”

Accentuating the Possible Negative

This study also identifies a problem. Carbonation causes the brain to pick up on fewer sweetness-related signals no matter what type of sweetener is used. However, the effect of carbonation on sucrose (sugar) is stronger than it is with artificial sweeteners.

  1. The brain's reduced perception of sweetness from sugar could cause an increase in sugar consumption among regular soda drinkers.
  2. For diet soda drinkers, the brain’s altered sweetness perception could upset the body’s sense of energy maintenance and balance, stimulating a person to increase their intake of sugar and food. This could explain the rash of metabolic diseases, eating disorders and obesity among diet soda drinkers.

Our sense of taste combined with the scrumptious sight and smell of fantastic food and drink causes physiological changes throughout our body. Digestive hormones, enzymes and other gustatory molecules in our stomach and intestines get excited and stimulate our appetite.

This is true when our brain is correctly assessing the sweetness of what we are consuming, and also true if our brain’s perception is being skewed by the effects of carbonation. If perception is skewed, it could negatively impact our eating habits.

Something To Consider

The results of one research study do not indicate a great universal truth has been found. Our human perceptions can also be distorted by taking life apart and focusing on its pieces.

Yet, it is wise that individuals dealing with the issue of obesity, managing an illness such as diabetes, or those concerned about maintaining their family’s health, stay informed about findings in nutritional research and consider the implications.

Carbonation: A Second Opinion

It seems highly unfair that simply adding some carbon dioxide to a sweet liquid creates a tantalizingly pleasant effervescence that many of us enjoy and even learn to crave. However, not all doctors and nutritionists find carbonation to be a health concern.

“There are no known negative effects of carbonation on the digestive system, and some studies have found that it helps relieve indigestion and constipation," said Andrew Weil, M.D. "While I’m concerned about the unhealthy amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners and caffeine found in sodas, I have no concerns about the carbonation itself."

Sources: AGA Journals, Science Daily, Dr. Weil

Get A Free 7 Day Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who, in addition to 3rd party partners, may contact you with updates, products and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy and terms and conditions.

More Articles

Depression is a mood disorder that causes you to feel sadness and lose interest in activities that you once enjoyed. The symptoms of depression...

Bilberry tea sounds like the favorite drink at a Hobbit cafe, but the mild sounding bilberry comes with a tall list of powerful health benefits....

Chamomile tea has long been prized for its calming properties, but few people realize it’s also beneficial for glucose regulation. Traditionally,...

It’s only been recently that doctors, including endocrinologists, have realized the starring role gut microbes play in our health. The unique...

=It’s helpful to know the difference between a food’s total grams of carbohydrate, and net grams of carbohydrate since only net carbs affect blood...

More Articles

Stomach aches and other gastrointestinal pains can be signs of a bigger problem. One such problem for diabetics is gastroparesis, or delayed...

Diabetics are constantly looking for new ways to help them deal with their disease. One of the best methods that often goes unnoticed is Chinese...

The symptoms of diabetes are many, but the recognizable ones are few. Many of the symptoms associated with diabetics are also associated with...

Type 1 diabetics know the importance that food plays in the overall management of...

Depression is a mood disorder that causes you to feel sadness and lose interest in activities that you once enjoyed. The symptoms of depression...

Most of us associate peripheral neuropathy with diabetes. What might be a surprise is that there are three other forms of neuropathy that are also...

=It’s helpful to know the difference between a food’s total grams of carbohydrate, and net grams of carbohydrate since only net carbs affect blood...

Of the 100,000 people diagnosed with kidney disease each year in the U.S., 43.8 percent of them will have developed it because of diabetes,...

A mood is an internal state or condition of feeling. It colors everything else we experience, much like colored sunglasses add a tint to...

Chamomile tea has long been prized for its calming properties, but few people realize it’s also beneficial for glucose regulation. Traditionally,...

Bilberry tea sounds like the favorite drink at a Hobbit cafe, but the mild sounding bilberry comes with a tall list of powerful health benefits....

Diabetes can seem to have an almost limitless list of symptoms. Now headaches are added to the list. The ebb...

People often get diabetes and hypoglycemia confused with one another, believing that they are two different names for the same condition. In...

Many diabetics struggle to control the sudden blood sugar spikes that can occur after meals. Knowing why blood sugar spikes happen and making...

Anyone can have diabetes, even infants. When an infant is born, part of the routine check-up by the neonatologist or the pediatrician is a test...