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No Faking
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

How do we know that diet drinks are fattening? Because overweight people drink them.

It sounds like the punch line of a joke, but the results of a recent study show that it is not far from the truth. Artificial sweeteners are indeed implicated in weight gain. Drs. Terry Davidson and Susan Swithers of Purdue University fed two groups of laboratory rats an identical food, except that one was sweetened with natural sugar while the other was sweetened with saccharine. The rats who were fed the artificially sweetened food ate more, gained more weight and seemed to lose the ability to gauge appropriate caloric intake. Over time, their food consumption was far greater than the control group fed naturally sweetened foods.

This study is an important piece of the puzzle to explain the growing international pandemic of obesity. The numbers of obese and morbidly obese continue to rise, as well as the health risks associated with obesity.

A sweet food that is low in calories confuses the body's inner sensory system. The body is aware of its own caloric needs and has built-in regulatory systems to ensure a balance between need and intake. A steady diet of artificially sweetened foods disrupts this delicate balance.

In general, artificial substitution is harmful. It blurs the truth and introduces distortions into our systems for identifying and distinguishing among beneficial and harmful stimuli. Extensive reliance on artificial substitutes can lead us to mistaken and damaging conclusions. The artificial sweeteners may taste pleasant at first, but don't prove themselves to be beneficial in the long run.

This deceptiveness manifests itself particularly in matters of faith. There exist today no end of “artificial” philosophies, created only to ensnare and entrap vulnerable individuals who only seek to improve their lives and make them more meaningful. When one is drawn in to these false philosophies, they impede one's ability to distinguish between good and evil, truth and falsehood, and also cause no end of stress in interpersonal relationships. This state of affairs was described well by our prophets, over 2,000 years ago: “They call evil good and good evil; they take darkness for light and light for darkness, and take sweetness for bitterness and bitterness for sweet.”

The most straightforward solution is to wean oneself immediately of these false beliefs; to return to the source of natural truth, to the Creator of the world in Whom our forefathers placed their trust. By following in His commandments we will enjoy a healthy and proper quality of life.

“Taste and you will see that G-d is good!” assures King David in Psalms. After a short period of consuming only pure spiritual food, one will no longer be able to withstand the taste of artificial food. Its bitter taste will be immediately evident, and we will remain whole and healthy; prepared to receive the revelation of the ultimate G-dly truth, with the true and complete Redemption.

Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.


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