Artificial Sweeteners and Gut Health
It's been a well known fact for decades that the human gut contains up to five pound of friendly bacteria that help us to digest our food.
Recently, however, scientists have discovered that gut bacteria don't just help with digestion. They also play a significant role in our cravings, hormones, and behavior. This discovery has led many to call the gut our "second brain" because of the immense control over us that our gut seems to display.
So what does this have to do with diabetes?
Imbalances in gut bacteria can lead to sugar cravings, negatively impact the way we process nutrients, and even lead to digestive issues such as Crohn's Disease.
We could go on and on, but the point is that having a healthy gut is imperative to having a healthy body and mind.
So it came as a big shock when scientists in Israel and Singapore published a study stating that common sweeteners found in sports drinks, fruit juice, and even bread, can damage the natural bacteria found in the gut.
While there are thousands of different bacteria who call your gut their home, this study in particular focused on e. coli, a bacteria which is known to play a big role in digestive tract health.
The researchers exposed the e. coli bacteria to six sweeteners frequently found in low-calorie or no-calorie beverages: aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k.
All six were shown to have damaging effects on the e. coli bacteria.
More research needs to be done to determine the exact effect that these sweeteners play in the human body, but this early research does seem to indicate that despite being FDA approved, the health savvy consumer may want to avoid them until we have a better understanding of their potentially detrimental effects on gut health.