Can Artificial Sweeteners Hurt Your Healthy Gut Bacteria?

Artificial sweetening agents can possibly turn healthy and balanced bacteria in the gut microbiome into dangerous microorganisms and also potentially trigger major health problems such as blood poisoning, researchers have found.


UK researchers have actually found that sugar substitutes such as saccharin, sucralose, as well as aspartame-- found in soft drinks as well as processed foods-- can cause helpful germs in the intestines such as E. coli (Escherichia coli) and E. faecalis (Enterococcus faecalis) to become pathogenic, or cause disease. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/10/5228


Bacteria like E. faecalis have the ability to cross the intestine wall surface and enter the blood stream, which can lead to a deadly condition brought on by blood poisoning (septicaemia) referred to as sepsis. These disease-causing germs can also collect in the liver, lymph nodes as well as spleen, and cause a variety of other harmful conditions.


Based on their findings, researchers, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, found that it is important to recognize the effect of sugar on health.


"Our study is the first to show that some of the sweeteners most commonly found in food and drink – saccharin, sucralose and aspartame – can make normal and 'healthy' gut bacteria become pathogenic," said Dr Havovi Chichger, a senior lecturer in biomedical science at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).


"These pathogenic changes include greater formation of biofilms and increased adhesion and invasion of bacteria into human gut cells. These changes could lead to our own gut bacteria invading and causing damage to our intestine, which can be linked to infection, sepsis and multiple-organ failure.


"We know that overconsumption of sugar is a major factor in the development of conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Therefore, it is important that we increase our knowledge of sweeteners versus sugars in the diet to better understand the impact on our health."

Pathogenic germs can invade and eliminate Caco-2 cells-- cells which line the wall surface of the intestine. The scientists discovered that a quantity of sweeteners equal to two cans of diet  soda can significantly enhance the ability of E. coli and E. faecalis to attach to Caco-2 cells.


Moreover, they discovered that sweeteners effect the formation of biofilms-- collections of microorganisms that are most likely to produce toxic substances and also much less sensitive to antimicrobial resistance treatment, potentially increasing the threat of disease.


The researchers found that since "AS (artificial sweeteners) consumption in the diet continues to increase, understanding how this food additive affects gut microbiota and how these damaging effects can be ameliorated is vital."

 

Recommended natural sweeteners:


Honey:

honey

Honey has a lower glycemic index (GI) than sugar. The glycemic index measures how quickly a carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels. Honey has a GI score of 58, and sugar has a GI value of 60. That means honey (like all carbohydrates) raises blood sugar quickly, but not quite as fast as sugar.  Honey is also known to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and soothing effects. It is made up of glucose, fructose, and minerals, such as iron, calcium, phosphate, sodium chloride, potassium, and magnesium.


Stevia Plant Leaf: 

stevia plant leaf


Stevia is natural, unlike other sugar substitutes. It's made from a leaf related to popular garden flowers like asters and chrysanthemums. In South America and Asia, people have been using stevia leaves to sweeten drinks like tea for many years.  Research has found that stevia plant leaf may help lower blood pressure, lower the risk of diabetes and help lower the risk of heart disease.


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