We�ve known that diabetics who use artificial sugars to control their disease don�t always see a positive result, but doctors have had no idea why. It seems to contradict logic since they�re not actually consuming sugar, but a recent study explains why. Artificial sweeteners change the resident bacterial population we all have in our gut, known as microbiome.
The experiments first showed that sugar substitutes such as saccharine and sucralose fed to mice elevated their blood sugar levels more than mice fed sugar. Next the study looked at whether artificial sweeteners changed the gut microbiome and in turn, the blood glucose levels.
After a nine day treatment with saccharin, the mice gut bacterial population shifted dramatically and increased their blood sugar. The bacteria shifted to a group called Bacteroidetes and declined in another called Clostridiales. This change has been associated with obesity in mice and people. Then when they gave these mice antibiotics which wiped out that bacteria, you guessed it, there was a reversal of the blood sugar effect from saccharin. But what happens in people?
A study of four hundred people found the gut microbiome of those who used artificial sweeteners was vastly different from non-consuming ones. A small group who consumed high levels of it for seven days ended up with high blood sugar levels.
These studies show that artificial sweeteners may cause glucose intolerance instead of preventing them. It�s also clear our gut bacteria could play a role in diabetes and in the future, treatments based on altering our microbiome will expand.
For more information…
Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota
Original research paper describing this exciting new insights into artificial sweeteners and the gut microbiome.
Health: The weighty costs of non-caloric sweeteners
News and Views article by Taylor Feehley and Cathryn Naglar that presents an overview of this study in the context of other work in this area. Excellent overview.