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"Non-nutritive artificial sweeteners (NAS) toxic to gut bacteria increasing risk of prediabetes

Non-nutritive artificial sweeteners (NAS) toxic to gut bacteria increasing risk of prediabetes

Ironically, NAS may actually be contributing to the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic

All 6 FDA-approved NAS shown to adversely affect activity of gut bacteria

There are currently 6 NAS  (Non-nutritive means non-caloric) approved for use in the U.S.:

NAS Brand names
Aspartame NutraSweet, Spoonful, Equal, NatraTase blue, Canderel
Sucralose Splenda, Zerocal
Saccharin Sweet 'N Low, Sugar twin, Sweet Twin, Necta Sweet
Advantame (None)
Neotame Newtame
Acesulfame potassium-K Sunnette, Sweet One, ACE, ACE K

Most NAS pass through the human GI tract without being digested by the host. Roberts, 2000 Byard, 1973  Thus directly encountering GI microbiota.

Gut flora help regulate multiple physiological processes

  Clemente, 2012

Dominant gut phyla include: Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria.

Studies have indicated that the composition Claesson, 2012 and function Muegge, 2011 of gut flora are modulated by diet whether a person is healthy and lean, obese Turnbaugh, 2006  Ley, 2006 or has diabetes Qin, 2012.  Dietary-modulated alterations have been associated with an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome.  Henao, 2012

NAS consumption enhances risk of glucose intolerance / metabolic syndrome by altering GI flora

 Suez et al study results suggest that NAS consumption in both mice and humans (following moderate consumption over several weeks) enhances the risk of glucose intolerance.   Also,  that these adverse metabolic effects are mediated by modulation of the composition and function of the microbiota. They also noted that "several of the bacterial taxa that changed following NAS consumption were previously associated with type 2 diabetes in humans Qin, 2012;  Karlsson, 2013, including over-representation of Bacteroides and under-representation of Clostridiales. " Suez, 2014

Researchers concluded that a couple of artificially sweetened sodas or coffees a day could be enough to influence gut health.   Researcher Arial Kushmaro, professor of microbial biotechnology at Ben-Gurion University,  headed up an Israeli / SIngapore collaborative study published in "Molecules".   Beneficial GI tract bacteria (a strain of E. Coli) were dosed with all six FDA-approved artificial sweeteners, having a toxic effect on them, which made it difficult for them to grow and reproduce.  Molecules, 2018


Byard, J. L. & Goldberg, L. (1973) The metabolism of saccharin in laboratory animals. Food Cosmet. Toxicol. 11, 391-402 (1973).

Claesson, M. J. et al. (2012) Gut microbiota composition correlates with diet and health in the elderly. Nature 488, 178-184

Clemente, J. C., Ursell, L. K., Parfrey, L. W. & Knight, R. (2012) The impact of the gut microbiota on human health: an integrative view. Cell 148, 1258-1270

Henao-Mejia, J. et al. (2012) Inflammasome-mediated dysbiosis regulates progression of NAFLD and obesity. Nature 482, 179-185

Karlsson, F. H. et al. (2013) Gut metagenome in European women with normal, impaired and diabetic glucose control. Nature 498, 99-103. PubMed

Ley, R. E., Turnbaugh, P. J., Klein, S. & Gordon, J. I. (2006) Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity. Nature 444, 1022-1023

Molecules 2018; 23(10): 2454  Link

Muegge, B. D. et al. (2011) Diet drives convergence in gut microbiome functions across mammalian phylogeny and within humans. Science 332, 970-974.

Qin, J. et al. (2012) A metagenome-wide association study of gut microbiota in type 2 diabetes.  Nature 490, 55-60

Roberts, A., Renwick, A. G., Sims, J. & Snodin, D. J. (2000) Sucralose metabolism and pharmacokinetics in man. Food Chem. Toxicol. 38 (Suppl. 2), 31-41

Suez,J et al (2014 Oct) Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature 514(7521):181-6.

Turnbaugh, P. J. et al. (2006) An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature 444, 1027-1031

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