New study shows artificial sweeteners have toxic effects on our gut microbes

A woman opens a Diet Coke

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A new study claimed that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, and saccharine can disrupt the good bacteria in the gut.

Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore tested the relative toxicity of six artificial sweeteners, namely aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k - all of which are used by diabetics or people who are cutting back from sugar consumption.

"Consumption of artificial sweeteners has been linked with adverse effects such as cancer, weight gain, metabolic disorders, type 2 diabetes and adjustment of gut microbiota activity", the researchers said.

Today, artificial sweeteners are used in a variety of food products and soft drinks that have reduced sugar content. They then exposed the bacteria to the artificial sweeteners, causing the toxic response.

Those artificial sweeteners are also found in microwave popcorn, fruit juice, yogurt and many other items, even when the label reads "natural sweeteners", since the FDA doesn't have a legal definition of the word "natural".

The only thing we can say with any certainty is that consuming moderate amounts of artificial sweeteners probably won't cause cancer in humans.

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After dosing the E. coli bacteria with artificial sweeteners "hundreds of times", Kushmaro concluded the sweeteners had a toxic, stressing effect, making it hard for gut microbes to grow and reproduce. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) looks ahead to turning 50 in 2020, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia.

'We modified bioluminescent E. coli bacteria, which luminesce when they detect toxicants and act as a sensing model representative of the complex microbial system, ' says Professor Ariel Kushmaro.

Their findings were published in the journal Molecules.

More and more studies are realizing the importance of gut bacteria to a person's overall health with bad bacteria linked to a range of diseases from obesity to bowel diseases, even Alzheimer's.

The findings of the study showed that the bacteria found in the digestive system, like E. coli, had a toxic response when exposed to concentrations of even only one mg./ml. of the artificial sweeteners. It only takes 1mg/ml for the substance to adversely affect gut bacteria.

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