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A new study published in the journal Appetite in August 2011 provides even more evidence that overconsuming sweetened beverages tends to undermine your health. The study found that consuming roughly the equivalent of two cans of sweetened soda a day dulled subjects’ perception of sweet tastes — a result that could lead to even more intense cravings for sweetened foods and drinks.

After testing a group of normal-weight subjects’ perception of sweet-taste intensity, researchers asked them to drink 26 ounces of an energy drink sweetened with glucose syrup (a relative of corn syrup) daily for one month. After a month, they tested subjects again and found that they perceived sweet tastes as less intense than they did at the beginning of the study.

That difference in itself may not be a problem, but the behavior changes that often accompany diminished taste can be serious, says study author Hans-Peter Kubis, PhD, a professor of sport, health and exercise science at Bangor University in North Wales. “We know from other studies, for example, that when elderly people have reduced sensitivity for salty tastes that they tend to oversalt their food,” he explains. “Because sweetness is strongly connected to the reward system in the brain, people may increase the amount and frequency of their use [of sweeteners] if their expected perception is not reached.”

To avoid desensitizing your taste buds, Kubis recommends reducing or eliminating your intake of sweetened foods and beverages.

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