Additional File : Table S1
Baseline characteristics of participants. Table S2. Study compliance. Table S3. Detailed statistical analysis of Alpha Diversity Indices of genus and family ranks. Table S4. Detailed statistical analysis of Beta Diversity using NMDS plots and Bray Curtis dissimilarity index of the genus and family ranks. Table S5. Mean relative abundances of microbial communities and their change in response to treatment. Table S6. Linear discriminatory analysis effect size for each treatment . Table S7. Detailed statistical analysis of Alpha Diversity Indices of genus and family ranks. Table S8. Detailed statistical analysis of Beta Diversity using NMDS plots and Bray Curtis dissimilarity index of the genus and family ranks. Table S9. Mean relative abundances of microbial communities and their change in response to treatment. Table S10. Linear discriminatory analysis effect size for each treatment . Table S11. NMR-based metabolite changes comparisons between treatment groups. Table S12. Pairwise comparison between control and saccharin treatment in humans and mice.
Artificial Sweeteners May Change The Balance Of Your Gut Bacteria
Most artificial sweeteners travel through your digestive system undigested and pass out of your body unchanged .
Because of this, scientists have long thought they have no effects on the body.
However, recent research has revealed that artificial sweeteners may influence your health by changing the balance of bacteria in your gut.
Scientists have found that animals fed artificial sweeteners experience changes to their gut bacteria. The researchers tested sweeteners including Splenda, acesulfame potassium, aspartame and saccharin .
In one study, scientists found that when mice ate the sweetener saccharin, the numbers and types of bacteria in their guts changed, including a reduction in some beneficial bacteria .
Interestingly, in the same experiment, these changes werent seen in the mice fed sugar water.
The researchers also noted that people who eat artificial sweeteners have different profiles of bacteria in their guts than those who dont. However, its still not clear if or how artificial sweeteners might cause these changes .
However, the effects of artificial sweeteners on gut bacteria may vary widely from person to person.
Initial human studies have indicated that only some people may experience changes to their gut bacteria and health when they consume these sweeteners .
Summary: In mice, artificial sweeteners have been shown to change the balance of bacteria in the gut. However, more human studies are needed to determine their effects in people.
One Common Misunderstood Ingredient Could Be Damaging Your Gut Bacteria Study
Artificial sweeteners are failing at their one and only task.
How many sugars did you put in your coffee this morning? One or two? Maybe 18? It turns out, that what might be the most concerning is not the amount of sweetener but the type. If pink packets of SweetN Low trail in your wake, you might want to check in with your microbiome.
In a study in the journal Cell, researchers in Israel found theres nothing low about SweetN Low and many other artificial sweeteners marketed as non-nutritive having zero to no calories or physiological effects on the body. Instead, these compounds appear to alter the microbiome in healthy individuals, prompting unsettling changes in glucose, insulin, and other hormones involved in the glycemic response .
This current study is the first to causally or mechanistically look into possible side effects of all four common artificial sweeteners on the human microbiome and to assess whether in some people, will also impact glycemic responses through the microbiome, Eran Elinav, the studys lead researcher and a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and the German National Cancer Center, tells Inverse.
So far, its looking like artificial sweeteners are failing at the one task they had: Rather than a healthy alternative to sugar, these substances may pose a considerable threat to human health.
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Your Gut Bacteria May Affect Your Health And Weight
Beneficial bacteria are known to protect your gut against infection, produce important vitamins and nutrients and even help regulate your immune system.
An imbalance of bacteria, in which your gut contains fewer healthy bacteria than normal, is called dysbiosis .
Dysbiosis has been linked to a number of gut problems, including inflammatory bowel disease , irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease (
Scientists examining gut bacteria have found that normal-weight people tend to have different patterns of bacteria in their guts than overweight people .
Twin studies comparing the gut bacteria of overweight and normal-weight identical twins have found the same phenomenon, indicating that these differences in bacteria are not genetic .
Moreover, when scientists transferred the bacteria from the guts of identical human twins to mice, the mice that received bacteria from the overweight twins gained weight, even though all the mice were fed the same diet .
This may be because the type of bacteria in the guts of overweight people are more efficient at extracting energy from the diet, so the people with these bacteria get more calories from a certain amount of food .
Emerging research also suggests that your gut bacteria may be linked to a wide range of other health conditions, including arthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer .
Summary: The balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut may play an important role in your health and weight.
Questions About Artificial Sweeteners And Cancer Risk
The general consensus among food safety experts and major health agencies, such as the NCI and FDA, is that the evidence doesnt support a link between artificial sweeteners and adverse health outcomes, including cancer. However, research is ongoing, and the relevant agencies continue to review new evidence and adjust their recommendations accordingly. If youre concerned about the effects of artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes, iconsult your health care team or oncologist.
Expert cancer care
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Extended Data Figure 8 Saccharin Directly Modulates The Microbiota
a, Experimental schematic. b, Relative taxonomic abundance of anaerobically cultured microbiota. c, AUC of germ-free mice 6 days following transplantation with saccharin-enriched or control faecal cultures . Horizontal lines, means error bars, s.e.m. **P < 0.01, unpaired two-sided Student t-test. The experiment was repeated twice.
Some Artificial Sweeteners Found To Alter Microbiome And Blood Sugar
A new study has investigated the effects of four common artificial sweeteners on the gut microbiome in humans. The findings revealed not only can these sweeteners lead to distinct changes in gut bacteria composition but they can also alter a persons glucose tolerance and blood sugar levels.
Artificial sweeteners, also known as non-nutritive sweeteners, have been around for nearly 150 years. Saccharin, for example, has been used as a sugar substitute for over a century after its accidental discovery by a chemist at Johns Hopkins University in 1879.
These chemicals are generally thought to be inert, with no broad metabolic effects beyond simulating a sugar hit in our mouth while eating. But over recent years scientists have begun to suspect these artificial sweeteners could be impacting our health in a variety of ways, from increasing cancer risk to making a person more likely to gain weight.
A large body of study has emerged over the past 10 years specifically looking at the effects of artificial sweeteners on the gut microbiome, but crucially, the vast majority of this research has only been conducted in animals. So it’s still incredibly unclear how these chemicals affect the human microbiome, and the few studies performed to date have delivered relatively discordant results.
The new study was published in the journal Cell Press.
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How Artificial Sweeteners Can Impact Gut Health
Current research suggests that artificial sweeteners can change your gut microbe composition because certain microbes can break down artificial sweeteners better than others, says Jessie Wong, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian who specializes in gut health and IBS. This allows the microbes that can break them down to flourish while the ones that cant diminish, leading to a change in composition.
For example, an October 2017 article in Moleculepoints out how neotamea no-calorie artificial sweeteneraltered the diversity of bacteria in the gut microbiome in mice by promoting the growth of certain bacteria and declining the growth of others.
Although larger studies are needed to see the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners, like neotame, on the human gut, the fact that they can cause gut dysbiosisan imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in your gutmeans theres potential for them to impact a wide range of things in your body.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad For Your Gut Bacteria
In 2014 a study by Suez et al. caused massive uproar about the safety of artificial sweeteners, specifically their effects on gut health. The researchers concluded that consuming artificial sweeteners disrupts our gut microbiome and causes metabolic disease, particularly glucose intolerance.
Our digestive tract , especially our large intestine , is populated by a staggering number of micro-organisms, including over a thousand bacterial species. Together, our gut microbiome has as many cells as our own body and over a 100 times more genes. Are low-calorie sweeteners killing the little friends in our colon?
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Extended Data Figure 4 Metabolic Characterization Of Mice Consuming Hfd And Pure Saccharin Or Water
10-week-old C57Bl/6 mice were fed HFD, with or without supplementing drinking water with 0.1 mg ml1 pure saccharin. After 5 weeks, metabolic parameters were characterized using the PhenoMaster metabolic cages system for 70 h. Light and dark phases are denoted by white and black rectangles on the x-axis, respectively, and grey bars for the dark phase. a, Liquids intake. b, AUC of a. c, Chow consumption. d, AUC of c. e, Respiratory exchange rate . f, AUC of e. g, Physical activity as distance. h, AUC of g. i, Energy expenditure. The metabolic cages characterization was repeated twice.
Sugar Damages Your Gut Flora
Sugar can also promote the growth of bad bacteria in the gut. This could lead to irritation in the gut, which could even manifest itself as an autoimmune response like allergies or skin conditions. Theres even recent evidence suggesting depression is actually your bodys response to swelling in the gut.
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Artificial Sweeteners Affecting Gut Health
Over the last few years, non-nutritive sweeteners have gained popularity. They eventually become a crucial ingredient in numerous dietary cuisines and medicinal products. Artificial sweeteners or low-caloric sweeteners become an alternative to sugar, as they contain fewer calories and more sweetness than commonly used sugar.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved six NNS as safe to consume in humans aspartame, saccharine, sucralose, neotame, stevia, and acesulfame-K). FDA recently approved an herbal-based sweetener Siraitia grosvenorii swingle fruit extract .
The side effects of artificial sweeteners
There is a lot of controversy about artificial sweeteners benefits and drawbacks. Some health authorities consider them safe with numerous advantages, such as weight control, reduction in sugar intake, and beneficial effect on blood sugar levels. Whereas, the list of side effects of NNS is way too long, such as:
Another severe side effect of NNS is the detrimental effect on gut health, which further increases the risk of diabetes. Lets understand more about NNS affects your gut health.
How do artificial sweeteners affect gut health?
According to numerous research, artificial sweeteners also alter the bacterial colonies in the gut of those who regularly consume them. Although, the exact reason for these different bacteria development is still unclear. The effects of NNS on gut microbes vary from person to person.
Ethics Approval And Consent To Participate
The clinical study was performed in accordance with the requirements of Good Clinical Practice and the Revised Declaration of Helsinki. All participants provided written informed consent to participate after receiving verbal and written information about the study. The protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Advent-Health and registered at IRBNet . The study was registered on ClinicalTrials.gov on the 26th of January of 2017 .
All the studies in mice were performed in accordance to the NIH and institutional guidelines of the Ohio State University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
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Restoring The Health Of Your Gut
While the best thing you can do is cut sugar and artificial sweeteners out of your life altogether, that probably isnt practical advice for most people. A more achievable goal is to reduce the number of sweets you eat as much as possible, and further support your gut health with a quality probiotic. For comprehensive gut support, consider Global Healings Gut Health Kit. This kit features a 30-day supply of our finest supplements for maintaining a healthy gut, including probiotics. Our Gut Health Kit is one of the easiest ways to fully support a healthy gut microbiota and healthy life.
Do Artificial Sweeteners Harm Your Good Gut Bacteria
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes that are added to foods and drinks to make them taste sweet.
They provide that sweetness without any extra calories, making them an appealing choice for people who are trying to lose weight.
All sorts of everyday foods and products contain artificial sweeteners, including candy, soda, toothpaste and chewing gum.
However, in recent years artificial sweeteners have generated controversy. People are starting to question whether they are as safe and healthy as scientists first thought.
One of their potential problems is that they may disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
This article takes a look at the current research and examines whether artificial sweeteners change your gut bacteria, as well as how these changes might impact your health.
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The Effects Of Stevia On Gut Bacteria
Commonly referred to as Stevia, the sweeteners are actually the steviol glucosides, namely rebaudioside A, from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. People commonly assume natural equals safe, but mechanistically, Stevia extract is the only sweetener in this article that the gut microbiota in our colon can significantly feed on. Thus, Stevia extract can directly affect our gut health. Indeed, human and rodent research show that consuming Stevia extract can alter the concentrations of several bacteria in our gut, although the effect is minor. The hydrolysis in the gut leaves a steviol backbone, which is then absorbed from the colon and bonds with glucuronic acid before being excreted as as steviol glucuronide via our urine.
Although Stevia extract can change our gut microbiota and reacts with compounds in our body, it appears to be safe up until the ADI. Stevia extracts ADI is expressed by the JECFA as 4 mg/kg/d steviol equivalent, which is equal to about 12 mg/kg/d rebaudioside A. Its hard to do quick math with that and many products dont report steviol equivalents, but this ADI is relatively low compared to aspartame and sucralose. A 80 kg individual can only consume 12 packets of Coca Cola Stevia extract according to Coca Cola. You probably dont want to mega-dose Stevia extract anyway though due to its bitter, metallic aftertaste.
Stevia extract provides fuel for several bacteria in our colon and is metabolized in our body.
Is Monk Fruit The Best Sweetener
In contrast to artificial sweeteners, monk fruit extract is all-natural and doesnt have any gut side effects that artificial sweeteners do .
Traditional medicine practices even include monk fruit as a natural remedy for various health conditions and to support gut health.
Monk fruit is generally recognized as safe by the FDA. Still, there really isnt a ton of research about monk fruit. So its best to keep your intake of monk fruit low or moderate.
Also, monk fruit sweeteners are often bulked up with other additives such as erythritol or dextrose, which arent necessarily gut-friendly.
When they are present in commercial products like healthy electrolyte drinks*, however, there are no added fillers.
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See How The Gut Differentiates Artificial Sweeteners From Sugars
While these findings are alarming, says Lustig, the slam dunk came when the researchers used mouse experiments in the study to prove cause and effect between certain sweeteners, gut microbes, and glucose intolerance.
Suez and his colleagues took microbes from the feces of participants with elevated blood sugar levels and inserted the bacteria into germ-free mice by feeding them a slurry. After a few days, when the microbes colonized the animals gut, the researchers looked at the glycemic responses of these mice. They found that the animals ability to regulate blood glucose levels were also inhibited.
This is fundamental because it proves causation, not just correlation, says Lustig. However, he notes that this is a medium-term study that doesnt follow the weight or glycemic responses of human participants over six months or a year. Doing so, according to him, will better answer the ultimate question about the effects of artificial sweeteners on weight gain and the development of health conditions like diabetes.
Daniel Garrido, a microbiologist at Pontifical Catholic University of Chile who was not involved in the work, also notes that the mechanism that connects changes in gut microbiome to glucose intolerance is still unknown. But the study will get researchers thinking about it, which is an important step in the right direction, he says.
Editors note : This article has been updated to clarify the research teams involved in the study.
They May Lead To A Weakened Immune System
Science shows that theres a strong connection between your gut health and immune function. Artificial sweeteners could create an imbalance of bacteria in the gut microbiome, which could possibly impact our immune system, says Marvin Singh, MD, an integrative gastroenterologist, founder of Precisione Clinic and author of the forthcoming book, Rescue Your Health.
These sweeteners can cause metabolic derangements and glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiome, Dr. Singh explains. So why does this matter? If our microbiome isnt balanced, our immune system may not be as strongand the majority of our immune system is found in the gut.
Case in point: Research suggests that consuming high doses of artificial sweeteners could induce glucose intolerance by altering the microbiome, according to a May 2015 article in Gut Microbes. Scientists supplemented the drinking water of mice with high doses of saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame. After 11 weeks, the mice that drank the artificially sweetened water showed glucose intolerance compared to those that just drank water or water enhanced with sucrose or glucose.
Although its not totally clear why some artificial sweeteners can cause glucose intolerance, one theory is that they can interfere with the bodys sweet receptors and stimulate an insulin response. This can heighten cravings for sweets instead of reducing them.
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