Artificial sweeteners, previously thought to be effective for weight loss programs, might be contributing to the incidence of diseases like obesity and diabetes. They do so by interaction with the bacteria found in the gut which help in digestion of food.
A new study has denounced artificial sweeteners as being potentially bad for health. While the supposed purpose is to help exclude sugar from the diet, what really happens is an effect worse than what it was supposed to be meant for. The sweeteners are often portrayed as being ideal for weight loss programs, and also, as prevention for diabetes. However, the researchers of the new study have found that the artificial sweeteners actually accelerate glucose intolerance and metabolic disease.
The scientists were led to such results when they observed how the artificial substances were modifying the composition of the gut microbiota. The latter constitute the set of bacteria which are found in our alimentary canal intimately aiding us with the process of digestion – a certain interdependence has been developed between humans and the microorganisms residing in their very guts. The sweeteners have been shown not only to affect their composition but also their function, thereby causing imbalances in the system. In this way, they might be actually contributing to the increasing trends in obesity and diabetes.
Studies in the past have questioned the purpose of artificial sweeteners. Scientists have suggested that they do not help to lose weight. Some even stated that they have an opposite effect.
If they do not contain sugar, how can they still affect the body’s use of glucose? The scientists theorised that perhaps the body does not treat the sweeteners as ‘food’, and as a matter of fact, the sweeteners were not absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. However, they would interact with the bacteria as they pass through the gut. This was shown by comparing the effect of the sweeteners on mice having gut bacteria and those having had the bacteria eradicated from their systems.
The bacterial community underwent modifications in their functions known for their link with obesity and diabetes in both mice and humans. The bacteria were made to induce glucose intolerance. They might be delivering this kind of effect by releasing substances in reaction to contact with the sweetener chemicals. This might in turn be triggering inflammation which is tantamount to the one related to sugar overdose. As a consequence, the ability of the body to deal with the sugar content changes.
The food that we eat interferes with our system via the bacteria housed in the intestines and confers on us the tendency to developing health disorders. As they say, we are what we eat and our body is sacred – we are to be wise in our food intake, because ultimately the food we ingest makes us up.