Recently researchers showed that artificial sweeteners may cause certain gut bacteria to induce glucose intolerance and metabolic disease, both significant markers for obesity and diabetes. Researchers have long wondered why non-caloric artificial sweeteners do not seem to assist weight loss. Eran Elinav, PhD., Rehovot, Israel, showed that artificial sweeteners have a direct effect on the body’s ability to utilize glucose. Glucose intolerance is the first step to metabolic syndrome and adult-onset diabetes. Researchers first perused data from the Personalized Nutrition Project and found a significant association linking artificial sweetener consumption, gut bacteria configurations and the propensity for glucose intolerance. Further experiments asked volunteers who did not generally eat or drink artificially sweetened foods to consume them for a week and then undergo tests of their glucose levels and gut microbiota composition. Many volunteers began to develop glucose intolerance after just 1 week of artificial sweetener consumption. In those developing the glucose intolerance, Elnav believes certain bacteria reacted to the chemical sweeteners by secreting substances that provoked an inflammatory response similar to sugar overdose, promoting changes in the ability to utilize sugar.
“Our relationship with our own individual mix of gut bacteria is a huge factor in determining how the food we eat affects us,” said Elinav. “Especially intriguing is the link between artificial sweeteners – through the bacteria in our guts – to a tendency to develop the very disorders they were designed to prevent.”
IDEA Fitness Journal, February 2015.