Non-nutritive sweeteners are all the rage these days. These sweeteners are used instead of sugar. Their specialty is that they help make sweets without calories. Therefore, they are also known as sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners.
But a test by researchers at the Weizman Institute of Science, published today in Cell, shows that such sweeteners are not inactive: they have an effect on the human body. In fact, consuming these sweeteners can alter the body’s microbiome—the trillions of microbes that live in our gut—in ways that can alter blood sugar levels. And the effects of these sweeteners vary greatly from person to person.
Find out what the study says about it
In 2014, a Weizman Institute study in rats showed that some non-nutritive sweeteners can actually alter sugar metabolism in a harmful way. In a new study by Prof. from Weisman’s Department of Systemic Immunology. A team of researchers led by Eran Elinava surveyed nearly 1,400 potential participants.
In which 120 were selected, who did not consume food or drink containing any artificial sweetener. These people are divided into six groups. Participants in four groups each received bags of non-nutritive sweeteners containing saccharin, sucralose, aspartame and stevia. The other two groups were given sweeteners as a control.
The researchers found that two weeks of consuming all four sweeteners changed the structure and function of the microbiome. They also found that two sweeteners, saccharin and sucralose, significantly alter glucose tolerance – sugar metabolism – in humans. Such changes may, in turn, contribute to metabolic diseases. In contrast, no changes in the microbiome or glucose tolerance were found in the two control groups.
In the end
Studies have shown that non-nutritive sweeteners can dampen glucose responses by altering our microbiome. They affect each person in a unique way. As such, it is important to emphasize that these findings in no way imply that the consumption of sugar, which has been shown in several studies to be harmful to human health, is superior to non-nutritive sweeteners.