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Carbonation alters the mind's perception of sweetness

Date:
September 17, 2013
Source:
American Gastroenterological Association
Summary:
Carbonation, an essential component of popular soft drinks, alters the brain's perception of sweetness and makes it difficult for the brain to determine the difference between sugar and artificial sweeteners.

The peaks of brain activity related to carbonation and to sour taste compared with a baseline of water are represented on the partially inflated surface of brain hemispheres. Both tastes evoked neural activity with 2 distinct maxima in the insular cortex (P = .05 correlation). Two peaks are located in the insular sulcus and appear partially overlapping, and 2 peaks are located in the insular gyri and are well separated from each other.
Credit: AGA Institute

Carbonation, an essential component of popular soft drinks, alters the brain's perception of sweetness and makes it difficult for the brain to determine the difference between sugar and artificial sweeteners, according to a new article in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

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"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 study author, Rosario Cuomo, associate professor, gastroenterology, department of clinical medicine and surgery, "Federico II" University, Naples, Italy. "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."

The study identifies, however, that there is a downside to this effect; the combination of carbonation and sugar may stimulate increased sugar and food consumption since the brain perceives less sugar intake and energy balance is impaired. This interpretation might better explain the prevalence of eating disorders, metabolic diseases and obesity among diet-soda drinkers.

Investigators used functional magnetic resonance imaging to monitor changes in regional brain activity in response to naturally or artificially sweetened carbonated beverages. The findings were a result of the integration of information on gastric fullness and on nutrient depletion conveyed to the brain.

Future studies combining analysis of carbonation effect on sweetness detection in taste buds and responses elicited by the carbonated sweetened beverages in the gastrointestinal cavity will be required to further clarify the puzzling link between reduced calorie intake with diet drinks and increased incidence of obesity and metabolic diseases.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Gastroenterological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Francesco Di Salle, Elena Cantone, Maria Flavia Savarese, Adriana Aragri, Anna Prinster, Emanuele Nicolai, Giovanni Sarnelli, Maurizio Iengo, Maxime Buyckx, Rosario Cuomo. Effect of Carbonation on Brain Processing of Sweet Stimuli in Humans. Gastroenterology, 2013; 145 (3): 537 DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.05.041

Cite This Page:

American Gastroenterological Association. "Carbonation alters the mind's perception of sweetness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130917093918.htm>.
American Gastroenterological Association. (2013, September 17). Carbonation alters the mind's perception of sweetness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130917093918.htm
American Gastroenterological Association. "Carbonation alters the mind's perception of sweetness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130917093918.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

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