There’s a war on sugar and it’s justified. The stuff leads to weight gain, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Any flak it gets and warnings you hear are legitimate.
To get the flavor they crave, many turn to no-calorie sweeteners. They believe they can still have their sweetness without worrying about all the potential health problems associated with sugar. The problem, however, is the mounting evidence that shows these products aren’t a safe and healthy alternative. In fact, zero-calorie sweeteners are associated with weight gain, glucose insensitivity, and metabolic syndrome.
But how does this happen? It appears sweeteners have a negative effect on your microbiome—the ecosystem of bacteria living inside you that is becoming increasingly better understood almost every day.
The bacteria living inside you serve a number of functions in keeping you healthy. They allow you to metabolize nutrients, activate your digestive system, and help your immune system. In order for them to work effectively, however, you must eat a balanced diet. When too many bad bacteria are introduced, imbalances occur and problems arise, something that happens when you consume no-calorie sweeteners, according to an exciting new study.
Let me explain…
Researchers fed mice a variety of popular zero-calorie sweeteners and noticed they developed glucose intolerance (which usually brings on type 2 diabetes). They realized alterations in gut bacteria were the reason.
Once the mice had been given the sweeteners, they were given antibiotics to alter their gut bacteria again and the glucose intolerance disappeared. Then, fecal bacteria samples of the glucose-intolerant mice were transferred to healthy mice. Soon after, they developed the intolerance, too. This shows the bacteria strain caused by the sweeteners was responsible for the intolerance. Even more interesting was that the highly concentrated bacteria in the glucose-intolerant mice are the same type associated with type 2 diabetes in humans.
Now, finding these results in mice is one thing, but then they tested it on humans and found similar results. They took 381 non-diabetic people, fed them the daily maximum amount of a popular sweetener, and saw an alteration in gut bacteria that led to glucose intolerance and other signs of metabolic syndrome.
If you like sweeteners or use them frequently, this should be a warning to stop taking them. Although more research is needed, it looks very promising that an altered microbiome is the reason for metabolic syndrome, and no-calorie sweeteners seem to have the same impact as the much-dreaded sugar.
Source for Today’s Article:
Suez, J., “Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota,” Nature web site, September 17, 2014; http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13793.html.