Artificial sweeteners in ‘diet’ food & drinks toxic to gut bacteria

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Artificial sweeteners, diet cola, soft drinks
Consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues

‘Zero’ and ‘Diet’ drinks are sold as healthy alternatives – but these drinks can pose serious health risks

FDA-approved artificial sweeteners and sport supplements were found to be toxic to digestive gut microbes.

The findings were published in a new paper published in Molecules by researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Researchers found six sweeteners (advantame, saccharine, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, and acesulfame potassium-k)- all approved for use in foods and drinks in the US and EU – to be toxic to gut microbes.

Interestingly, while the choice of diet versions of products is often guided by weight concerns, gut microbes are known to play a key role in that. Destruction of gut microbes could lead to obesity.

Diet Coke which uses aspartame, has been in the eye of a controversy for decades.

This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues

“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 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.

“This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues,” he added.

Artificial sweeteners are used in many processed foods and soft drinks with reduced sugar content. People consume these products, without knowing the harmful effects posed by them.

Apart from their adverse effects on human health, artificial sweeteners have been identified as environmental pollutants, and can be found in drinking and surface water, and groundwater aquifers, because these sweeteners are resistant to wastewater treatment processes.

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