Artificial sweeteners may not be good for your gut

Two new studies are questioning the impact of artificial sweeteners on digestive gut bacteria.

    2018/10/10

NSFW    BEERSHEBA, ISRAEL / ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA — In recent years, sugar has become public enemy number one as far as health is concerned, prompting people to turn to artificial sweeteners. But are they really any better for you?

Science Daily reports that researchers from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Nanyang Technological Institute in Singapore modified E. coli to light up when exposed to toxins, using it as a sensing model representative of the complex gut microbial system.

Exposure to six types of popular artificial sweeteners, which include aspartame and sucralose among others, had a toxic, stressing effect that made it difficult for the bacteria to grow and reproduce.

A separate study carried out in Australia looked at 29 healthy adults and randomly administered the capsule equivalent of drinking 1.5 liters of diet soda a day to fourteen of the participants. The other fifteen were given a placebo, according to a report in Diabetologia.

After two weeks, the amount of good bacteria in the fourteen subjects' gut had decreased, while gut pathogens had increased — potentially affecting the body's ability to regulate glucose.

But while both studies' findings are compelling, experts say they are insufficient to establish causality. It's also it's difficult to assess what exactly these gut marker changes mean to overall health, which means the verdict is still out on whether these sugar substitutes are in fact harmful.
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