FDA approved artificial sweeteners and some sports supplements were found to be toxic to digestive gut bacteria in new studies. Their consumption can adversely affect gut microbial activity, causing a wide range of health issues from cancers, weight gain, metabolic disorders, type-2 diabetes and alteration of gut microbiota activity. The research was published in Molecules by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
The collaborative study indicated the bacteria found in the digestive system became toxic when exposed to concentrations of only one mg./ml. of any of these six artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin, Neotame, Advantame, and Acesulfame potassium-K (also known as acesulfame K, or ace K). Likewise for 10 sports supplements containing these artificial sweeteners. The 6 sweeteners were tested by using genetically modified bioluminescent bacteria from E. coli. The bioluminescent bacteria, which luminesce when they detect toxicants, act as a sensing model representative of the complex microbial system.
Prof. Ariel Kushmaro, John A. Ungar Chair in Biotechnology in the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, and member of the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev said:
“We modified bioluminescent E. coli bacteria, which luminesce when they detect toxicants and act as a sensing model representative of the complex microbial system. This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues. Furthermore, the tested bioluminescent bacterial panel can potentially be used for detecting artificial sweeteners in the environment, using a specific mode-of-action pattern.”
After dosing the E. coli bacteria with artificial sweeteners “hundreds of times,” Kushmaro concluded, “the sweeteners had a toxic, stressing effect, making it difficult for gut microbes to grow and reproduce.” The researchers concluded that a couple of artificially sweetened sodas or coffees a day could be enough to have an influence on gut health; they could even make it tougher for the body to process regular sugar and other carbohydrates.
“We are not claiming that it’s toxic to human beings. We’re claiming that it might be toxic to the gut bacteria, and by that, will influence us.” – Kushmaro
A lot of the time, people consume artificial sweeteners without even knowing it as they are used in countless food products and soft drinks. They are becoming increasingly controversial due to their questionable influence on consumers’ health. It’s also possible that artificial sweeteners could make our bodies less tolerant of regular sugar.
Not only are they bad for human consumption, but they are bad for the environment as well. They have been identified as emerging environmental pollutants and can be found in drinking and surface water, and groundwater aquifers.
To date, researchers have conducted over 210,000 different studies on the sugar substitutes and somehow they still know remarkably little about their health effects. The only thing they know from all this research with certainty is that consuming moderate amounts of artificial sweeteners probably won’t cause cancer in humans. But cancer risks aside, they still don’t know whether sugar substitutes are any better for your body than regular sugar, and some scientists are growing increasingly worried.
Prof. Ariel Kushmaro told Business Insider, “My recommendation is to not use artificial sweeteners.”
Bottom line, if you want to be good to your belly, it’s probably best to limit your intake of sweets of all kinds, both the sugary and the sugar-free.