Is There a Downside to Artificial Sweeteners?

 More and more research is showing the gut is a major issue with so many health issue. Something “alternative practitioners, have known forever.” I hate using alternative because it isn’t alternative. It is what God has given was to heal ourselves. We don’t pay attention to what we put in our bodies that is unnatural in the name of low fat, non-sugar, non-carb. We have screwed up our bodily systems! I have known artificial sweeteners are not good for anyone! Our body can’t process it like so many other preservatives in SOOOOO many foods on the shelf and in the freezer section. Just another article on the issue

Some of your clients may drink diet sodas, and you may drink them yourself. But did you know that the artificial sweeteners they contain might actually hasten the development of glucose intolerance and metabolic disease? New research suggests they may do so by changing the composition and function of the gut microbiota (the substantial population of bacteria living in your intestines), according to a press release from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

The findings—the results of experiments in mice and humans—were published in the September 17 issue of Nature. A team led by Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute discovered that artificial sweeteners have a direct effect on the body’s ability to utilize glucose, even though they do not contain sugar. Glucose intolerance—generally thought to occur when the body cannot cope with large amounts of sugar in the diet—is the first step on the path to metabolic syndrome and adult-onset diabetes.

The scientists gave mice water laced with the three most commonly used artificial sweeteners—in equivalent amounts to those permitted by the FDA. The mice developed glucose intolerance, unlike mice that drank water or even sugar water. Repeating the experiment with different types of mice and different doses of the sweeteners produced the same results—these substances were somehow inducing glucose intolerance.

Next, the researchers investigated a hypothesis that the gut microbiota could be involved in this phenomenon. They thought the bacteria might be reacting to the artificial sweeteners as new substances that the body itself could not recognize as “food.” (Artificial sweeteners are not absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, but in passing through it, they encounter trillions of bacteria in the gut microbiota.)

The researchers treated mice with antibiotics to eradicate many of their gut bacteria; this resulted in a full reversal of the artificial sweeteners’ effects on glucose metabolism. Next, they transferred the microbiota from mice that had consumed artificial sweeteners to “germ-free” mice—resulting in a complete transmission of the glucose intolerance into the recipient mice. This, in itself, was conclusive proof that changes to the gut bacteria were directly responsible for the harmful effects on their hosts’ metabolism.

Does the human microbiome function in the same way? Researchers looked at data collected from their Personalized Nutrition Project, the largest human trial to date to look at the connection between nutrition and microbiota. Here, they uncovered a significant association between self-reported consumption of artificial sweeteners, personal configurations of gut bacteria and the propensity for glucose intolerance. They next conducted a controlled experiment, asking a group of volunteers who did not generally eat or drink artificially sweetened foods to consume them for a week and then undergo tests of their glucose levels as well as their gut microbiota compositions.

The findings showed that many—but not all—of the volunteers had begun to develop glucose intolerance after just 1 week of artificial sweetener consumption. The composition of their gut microbiota explained the difference: The researchers discovered two different populations of human gut bacteria—one that induced glucose intolerance when exposed to the sweeteners, the second that had no effect either way. The researchers believe that certain bacteria in those who developed glucose intolerance reacted to the chemical sweeteners by secreting substances that then provoked an inflammatory response similar to sugar overdose, promoting changes in the body’s ability to utilize sugar.

Yolanda Sanz, a nutritionist and vice chair of the European Food Safety Authority’s panel on dietetic products, nutrition and allergies, says it is too soon to draw firm conclusions. (This was reported by Alison Abbott in an article about the study on Nature‘s website.) Metabolic disorders have many causes, Sanz points out, and the study was very small.

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October 2014

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