Artificial Sweeteners Can Be Bad News for This Part of Your Body

Oct 2, 2018 at 2:56 p.m. ET
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Scientists have long wondered what artificial sweeteners do to your body. In fact, both the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association recommend using artificial sweeteners in moderation, as sugar-free products are not always healthy. Now, a recent study — conducted by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and published in the journal Molecules — found artificial sweeteners may be detrimental to your health.

In fact, artificial sweeteners can actually damage your digestive tract; specifically, your gut's natural bacteria.

More: Probiotics May Not Be as Helpful as We Think

According to a study, six of the most common artificial sweeteners — aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame and acesulfame potassium-k — were found to be toxic in the digestive gut microbes of mice.

What's more, it took only 1 milligram per milliliter of said artificial sweeteners to yield this result.

Professor Ariel Kushmaro, John A. Ungar chair in biotechnology in the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering and member of the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, said in a statement, "[T]his is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues." 

And while all of the tested sweeteners are deemed "safe for consumption" by the Food and Drug Administration, the results of this study suggest further testing is necessary — especially since these sweeteners are in so many products that most individuals consume them without their knowledge. 

"The results of this study might help in understanding the relative toxicity of artificial sweeteners and the potential of negative effects on the gut microbial community as well as the environment," Kushmaro said.

More: Eating This Food May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

That said, in the interim, consumers should be mindful of what they are eating and should consume whole, fresh foods whenever possible.

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