A recent study published in the journal Gastroenterology attempts to explain the link between carbonation of a drink and the brain’s perception of sugar. Researchers used fMRi to view brain functions when drinking four different versions of Sprite: carbonated and sweetened with sucrose (sugar), non-carbonated and sweetened with sucrose, carbonated and sweetened with aspartame (artificial sweetener) and non-carbonated and sweetened with aspartame.
Researchers found that, overwhelmingly, the presence of carbonation seemed to decrease the perception of sweets in the brains of the study participants. In other words, carbonation in drinks makes you think they are not as sweet as they truly are. They also found that a certain level of carbonation keeps the brain from being able to distinguish between artificial and real sugar.
Catia Sternini, MD, professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine said, “The brain might think that because it doesn’t get enough calories or the carbohydrates it needs for energy, you might feel like you need to eat more. However, it can also lead people to perceive their diet drinks as just as sweet as the regular version, and this would lessen their caloric intake.”
In conclusion, diet soda probably still isn’t that great for you, but at least it can satisfy a sweet tooth with less calories.