Artificial sweeteners contained in dietary Coca-Cola and other soft drinks can disrupt the intestinal microflora, scientists believe. It was found that six different sweeteners approved for use in food and beverages in the United States proved to be toxic to intestinal microbes.
Among sweeteners, aspartame has also been studied, the dangers of which have been debated for decades - it is he who is used in diet cola, notes The Daily Mail. Researchers from Israel and Singapore warned that the results could be taken as “additional evidence” of the potential harm to artificial sweeteners for health.
A healthy intestinal microbiome is connected by modern science with a number of functions in the body: from improving the regulation of hormones and nutrient absorption to digestion as such, and the effects on the immune system.
In addition to aspartame, scientists evaluated sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advants and acesulfame potassium. In addition to beverages, ten sports supplements containing these sweeteners were analyzed for the study.
The study was conducted by a team of Ben-Gurion Negev University and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. In the laboratory, all six sweeteners were contacted with bacteria that are commonly found in the human gut. These bacteria were genetically modified to fluoresce when toxins were detected.
It turned out that toxins are released when intestinal bacteria are exposed to artificial sweeteners. For this process to begin, one milligram or milliliter of sugar substitutes was enough. And the more the substitute enters the body, the more toxic substances are released, says team leader Professor Ariel Kushmaro.
“This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners negatively affects gut microbial activity, which can cause a wide range of health problems,” says the expert.
Dietary beverages make up a quarter of the sweetened beverage market. Scientists say that such drinks can no longer be considered as an alternative to sweet soda and other usual liquid products.
Sweeteners have repeatedly been associated with obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes, migraines, and even poisoning of liver cells. In addition, sweeteners pollute the environment because they are resistant to wastewater treatment processes.
Aspartame has established itself as an important component in many low-calorie foods and sugar-free drinks. It is consumed by more than 200 of millions of people around the world, this sugar substitute contains more than 6 thousands of products: carbonated soft drinks, powdered soft drinks, chewing gum, dessert mixes, puddings and toppings, as well as some vitamins and sugar drops.
Aspartame is a nutritive sweetener made by combining the two amino acids L-phenylalanine and L-aspartic acid with a third component, the methyl ester group. Very little of this sweetener is needed to give a product a sweet taste, so it is practically nutritious. It is believed to be up to 200 times sweeter than sucrose.
What is bad artificial sugar substitutes?
In the era of obesity and diabetes, sweeteners and sugar substitutes receive more attention than ever before. But some scientists say that these supplements are still not fully understood, and we all need more research to find out the truth.
Obesity and diabetes
A study published in April of this year by scientists from the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University, links artificial sweeteners to obesity and diabetes, arguing that sweeteners change the process of processing fat into energy. Scientists fed groups of rats with high sugar diets or artificial sweeteners, including aspartame and acesulfame potassium. Three weeks later, blood samples showed significant differences in the concentrations of biochemical substances, fats and amino acids.
Tim Spector, a leading specialist in intestinal microbiome, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College, UK, warned that animals with a lot of sugar substitutes show reduced intestinal microflora diversity, as well as an increased risk of diabetes or obesity. He adds that, although this has not yet been investigated in humans, there is enough evidence to stop taking sugar substitutes.
Stroke and dementia
Last year, consumption of soft drinks without sugar was associated with a high risk of developing stroke or dementia. A study by scientists from the University of Boston showed that people who drank diet drinks daily were almost three times more likely to suffer from stroke and dementia than others. But the researchers stressed that these data "demonstrated a correlation, but not a causal relationship."