A Spoonful of Sugar…

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A new study found that artificial sweeteners are not as harmless as originally believed, Cosmos Magazine reported.

Artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin, sucralose and stevia, contain chemicals that provide no energy or nutritional benefit. Their non-nutritive features allow them to be used in various products – such as low-fat ice cream and Diet Coke – instead of glucose, which is a common dietary sugar.

But scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science discovered that these sweeteners can alter a person’s microbiome and glycemic responses – described as the effect that food has on blood glucose levels after consumption.

In their experiments, researchers gave a group of 120 participants low doses of these sweeteners and closely monitored their physiological responses. A control group, meanwhile, received glucose or no supplement.

The findings showed that the sweeteners changed the microbiomes in the stool and the mouth, as well as the blood sugar levels. The team also noted that sweeteners saccharin and sucralose also impaired glycemic responses.

“This seemed to suggest that gut microbes in the human body are rather responsive to each of these sweeteners,” said lead author Eran Elinav.

Elinav noted that he had previously observed similar glycemic changes in mice. He added that responses to artificial sweeteners can differ from person to person but the study underscores that they are not the best alternative.

“In the meantime, we need to continue searching for solutions to our sweet tooth craving, while avoiding sugar, which is clearly most harmful to our metabolic health,” he concluded.

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