Aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), these six synthetic sweeteners or artificial sugars approved by the European Union would be toxic for our intestinal flora according to a new study published in Molecules and conducted by researchers Ben-Gurion University in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
Synthetic sweeteners are sugar substitutes known for their high sweetening power, but not nutritious. Sugar without the calories in short. They are found in large numbers in food and drink products and more and more doubts about their safety are appearing among researchers. A link has nevertheless been established between the consumption of synthetic sweeteners and the development of cancers, metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, weight gain and an alteration in the activity of the microbiota intestinal.
Sweeteners Have Toxic Effects on Some Good Gut Bacteria
This is why Israeli and Singaporean researchers conducted an in vitro study. Each of the six artificial sweeteners was put in the presence of Escherichia coli bacteria, very common in the digestive tract, genetically modified to emit light in the presence of toxic substances. The researchers then measured the luminescent signals produced and the bacterial growth. Results: Toxic effects were observed when bacteria were exposed to certain concentrations of artificial sweeteners. “This is further evidence that the consumption of artificial sweeteners negatively affects the activity of the microbiota gut that can cause a wide range of health problems,” said Professor Ariel Kushmaroco-author of the study.
Changes in the microbiota in just two weeks in humans
Moreover, in an oral presentation made at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) congress, a team of researchers from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Adelaide (Australia) told how they observed other consequences of the consumption of sweeteners on the microbiota. The researchers carried out the following experiment: a group of 29 non-diabetic subjects with an average age of 30 years was recruited. Fifteen volunteers took a placebo, fourteen a combination pill containing 92 mg of sucralose and 52 mg of acesulfame potassium, equivalent to a daily consumption of 1.5 liters of diet soda for two weeks! Stool analyzes before and after taking this diet were carried out, in order to determine which genera and species of microorganisms were present in the intestine.
The results show that the individuals of the “sweeteners” group present a greater modification of the bacteria present in their faeces with a significant reduction of those genera Eubacterium and Cylindroides, associated with good health. Populations of beneficial species (particularly those that ferment food in the digestive tract) decreased while those of eleven genera of opportunistic bacteria increased. For the authors: “In healthy non-diabetic subjects, two weeks of synthetic sweetener consumption was sufficient to disrupt gut bacteria and increase the abundance of those normally absent in healthy individuals.”