Our Microbiome on Artificial Sweeteners
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artificial sweeteners

We each have an incredible number of cells in our microbiome, from ten to one hundred trillion. And most are helpful bacteria that live in our gut. Research over the past decade though showed us they can get out of balance and trigger diseases such as depression, autism spectrum disorders, and some cancers. One area that's been studied is how artificial sweeteners interact with our microbiome.

About a decade ago, mouse studies showed these sweeteners can disrupt the control of glucose metabolism and lead to diabetes. Now a new study in humans shows this link may be credible. Scientists evaluated saccharine, sucralose, stevia, and aspartame on how they impact the human microbiome.

People were placed in groups where they consumed six packets of one of the sweeteners every day for two weeks. There were also two control groups. One ate regular sugar and the other ate no added sugar. People who ate the artificial sweeteners, especially saccharin and sucralose, had major changes in their oral and gut microbiome compared to the start of the study.

Their blood sugar levels were even higher than those who ate regular sugar which suggests the sweeteners may lead to glucose intolerance. That's when the body struggles to absorb sugar in the blood. The groups eating regular sugar and stevia and aspartame saw no changes.

Scientists will now try to find which microbes in the gut are responsible and hopefully, give us new ways to control diabetes.

For more information…

Artificial Sweeteners Alter Gut Bacteria in Humans
When consumed for as little as two weeks, common alternatives to sugar affect intestinal bacterial communities, with some reducing the body's ability to regulate blood glucose levels, a study finds...

Sugar Substitutes, Gut Bacteria, and Glucose Intolerance
The consumption of artificial sweeteners results in glucose intolerance mediated by changes in the gut microbiota in both mice and humans, researchers report...

Personalized microbiome-driven effects of non-nutritive sweeteners on human glucose tolerance
Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) are commonly integrated into human diet and presumed to be inert; however, animal studies suggest that they may impact the microbiome and downstream glycemic responses...