Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota

Non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) are generally considered a safe alternative to sugars for use as a food additive, especially for people controlling their sugar intake.

However, previous studies have given conflicting or inconclusive results regarding the effectiveness of NAS in aiding weight loss. In fact, some have concluded that NAS may actually cause weight gain, though they noted that further research was needed.

In 2014, a research group from the Weizmann Institute of Science demonstrated that consumption of some commonly used NAS can drive the development of glucose intolerance – an early hallmark of metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes – by inducing compositional and functional alterations in intestinal microbiota.

These results are important for both understanding the complex interactions and activities of the intestinal microbiota on metabolic processes, and understanding how non-caloric artificial sweeteners can impact health. With its widespread use in products for the purpose of helping consumers to improve their health, these findings show that it may be doing the very opposite.

THE FINDINGS

Reference: Suez, Jotham et al. ‘Artificial Sweeteners Induce Glucose Intolerance By Altering The Gut Microbiota’. Nature (2014)
Available here.

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