DITCH Artificial Sweeteners: Study Shows They’re Toxic to the Gut

A new study confirms that artificial sweeteners are bad for you, with research showing that products like sucralose (Splenda) are toxic to the gut.

Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore looked at the effects of FDA-approved artificial sweeteners and sports supplements on E. coli bacteria and found that they could have toxic effects on the bug, and therefore human health.

Ariel Kushmaro, a professor at Ben-Gurion University and author of the study, said:

“Artificial sweeteners have become increasingly controversial due to their questionable influence on consumers’ health. They are found in most foods, and many consume this added ingredient without their knowledge.”

Analyzing These 6 Artificial Sweeteners

In the study, 6 artificial sweeteners went under the team’s microscope:

  • Aspartame
  • Sucralose
  • Saccharine
  • Neotame
  • Advantame
  • Acesulfame potassium-k

In addition, Kushmaro and her colleagues analyzed 10 sports supplements containing the sweeteners to determine if they had toxic effects on E. coli.

Read: Consumer Group Warns Against Consuming Splenda

Even if you purposefully avoid artificial sweeteners, chances are you’re consuming them without realizing it. Some brands of whole wheat bread sold in the supermarket are sweetened with sucralose, the main ingredient in Splenda. Pedialyte contains acesulfame potassium-k, meaning you could be unknowingly damaging your children’s microbiome. And “diet” sodas often contain aspartame or sucralose.

Artificial sweeteners have also been found to be polluting U.S. waterways.

And don’t be fooled by the term “natural sweeteners” on food labels. The researchers also found artificial sweeteners in products like microwave popcorn, fruit juice, yogurt, and numerous other items with “natural sweeteners” on their labels. It’s easy for food manufacturers to sneak artificial sweeteners into your food, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t have a legal definition of the word “natural.”

The authors write in the journal Molecules that the gut microbiome “plays a key role in human metabolism,” and artificial sweeteners can “affect host health, such as inducing glucose intolerance.” [2]

Glucose intolerance is an umbrella term that refers to the metabolic conditions which result in higher-than-normal blood glucose. [3]

How Artificial Sweeteners Affect Gut Bacteria

The team wanted to know how consumption of these foods affected E. coli for a specific reason. [1]

Kushmaro explained:

“E. coli is an indigenous gastrointestinal microorganism and serves as a model for the gut bacteria. The indigenous gastrointestinal tract microflora has profound effects on the anatomical, physiological, and immunological development of the host.”

All of the sweeteners had a toxic effect on E. coli, and just 1 milligram per milliliter of the sugar substitutes was all it took to see the changes. Sucralose was found to be the most toxic of the 6 products. [1] [2]

Other previously-published studies have suggested that artificial sweeteners can lead to obesity and diabetes in mice, and may worsen gut issues stemming from Crohn’s disease. [1]

The study showed that the mice treated with neotame, found in NutraSweet, had different metabolic patterns than the untreated rodents. Furthermore, the scientists noted a decrease in several important genes found in the human gut. [2]

What’s more, concentrations of several fatty acids, lipids, and cholesterol were higher in mice treated with neotame than in those not.

In light of the findings, Kushmaro warned:

People should significantly reduce or avoid consumption of artificial sweeteners.” [1]

Read: How to Give up Artificial Sweeteners

That’s good advice. Artificial sweeteners have been linked in the past to weight gain, preterm delivery, and, yes, negative effects on gut microbes. There is even limited evidence that artificial sweeteners can cause cancer.


[1] Newsweek

[2] U.S. News & World Report

[3] Diabetes.co.uk

FlexibleDietingLifestyle (photo credit, edited)

Artificial Sweetener Use Among Kids Rose 200% in Less than 15 Years

Artificial sweetener use increased 200% among children and 54% among children from 1999 to 2012. Health experts are especially concerned about the spike in use among kids because the scientific community still doesn’t know the full health repercussions of long-term, low-cal sweetener use. [1]

According to the study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dieteticsin 1999, only 8.7% of children reported consuming artificial sweeteners, but that number had jumped to 25.1% by 2012.

Lead study author Dr. Allison Sylvetsky, assistant professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, said:

“The findings are important, especially for children, because some studies suggest a link between low-calorie sweeteners and obesity, diabetes and other health issues.” [1]

Learning the Bitter Truth About Fake Sweeteners

For the study, researchers looked at data on some 17,000 adult men, women, and children that came from the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey (NHANES) from 2009-2012, and compared their analysis to a previous study that used data from 1999-2008. Of the data, researchers specifically reviewed results from the 2 dietary interviews in which people reported what they ate or drank during the 24-hour period prior.

The team found that 25.1% of children and 41.4% of adults reported consuming low-calorie sweeteners. The majority of low-cal sweetener users reported using them once daily (80% of children and 52% of adults), and how often participants consumed the sweeteners increased with body weight in adults. Seventeen percent of adults in the study consumed artificial sweeteners 3 or more times a day.

Furthermore, the study showed that children as young as 2 had consumed artificial sweeteners in foods and beverages, representing 1 in 4 children involved.

Why the Increase?

The study authors point to obesity-prevention campaigns aimed at reducing sugar intake, increased availability of artificial sweeteners, increasingly inexpensive products, and/or increased prevalence of Type 2 diabetes as the reason for the sharp increase in low-calorie sweetener use. [2]

Sylvetsky said:

“While we anticipated an increase, the magnitude of the increase was much larger than we had anticipated, particularly in kids.
It is not surprising that low-calorie sweetener consumption continues to increase, though. … There has been a lot of pressure put on the food and beverage industry to reformulate, which has led to more lower-sugar, low-calorie sweetener containing products appearing on the market.” [3]

Rachel Hicks, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, said in a statement:

“Decades of scientific research, as well as regulatory agencies around the globe, have repeatedly reaffirmed the safety of low- and no-calorie sweeteners as part of the diet. And the science is clear that because they have few, if any, calories these sweeteners can be an effective tool for weight loss or as part of a weight management plan.”

Do Artificial Sweeteners Provide Any Benefit?

However, another study published in PLOS Medicine suggests there is a lack of evidence to support the role of artificial sweeteners in preventing weight gain.

Sylvetsky said that it’s not clear “how low-calorie sweeteners may influence appetite, weight management, and risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes,” though the products are believed to be safe in toxicology.

Are they really safe, though?

In recent years, research has emerged showing that some of the most popular low-calorie sweeteners may cause negative health effects. For example, an 11-year study showed that consuming 2 or more diet drinks is associated with a 2-fold increased risk of kidney function decline in women.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that, despite safety reports of aspartame, the sweetener is still associated with health concerns such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myelomas, and leukemia, though the researchers admitted that “cancer risk in individuals who consume regular soda do not permit the ruling out of chance as an explanation.”

Source: Mercola.com

Splenda, or sucralose, has become a popular alternative to aspartame and saccharine because it is made from sugar. However, a 2013 study showed that sucralose caused cancerous tumors in mice. The researchers behind that study also acknowledged that sucralose is able to alter gut microbes.

If you absolutely need to sweeten a food or drink, use organic, “raw” sugar.


[1] Fox News

[2] New York Daily News



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