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Post: Artificial Sweetener May Be Damaging Your Gut, Study Finds

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Artificial Sweetener May Be Damaging Your Gut, Study Finds
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Artificial sweeteners could do serious harm to gut health, new research shows. Researchers found that exposure to the artificial sweetener neotame may disrupt the lining of the intestines and the balance of gut bacteria.

Experts explain how sugar substitutes could impact your gut health and the digestive system.

Artificial sweeteners have been known to raise the risk of everything from heart disease to cancer . Now, researchers are adding gut damage to the list.

A study published in Frontiers in Nutrition looked at how an artificial sweetener known as neotame impacted gut health. Researchers conducted a model of the intestine in a lab to investigate the effects of neotame exposure. They added two common species of bacteria—Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis—which are often found in the digestive tract to replicate the behavior of the gut microbiome.

The study found that neotame exposure caused increased cell death and leakiness in the walls of the intestine. Researchers also determined that the artificial sweetener caused the usually harmless gut bacteria to begin acting in ways that could cause disease—such as forming into masses and adhering to and potentially invading cells of the intestinal lining.

Although this study did not test the effects of neotame exposure in a living person’s gut, the results suggest that exposure to it may disrupt the lining of the intestines and the balance of gut bacteria (a.k.a. the gut microbiome), which could eventually potentially lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and sepsis.

But what about other fake sugars? Artificial sweeteners may lead to symptoms like gas and bloating because they are fermented in the large intestine, says Austin Chiang, M.D. , gastroenterologist and chief medical officer of endoscopy at Medtronic. “It’s not fully understood how artificial sweeteners impact gut health or lead to any gut health conditions, but there are some studies that suggest that some artificial sweeteners can alter the gut microbiota,” Dr. Chiang explains. Altering the gut microbiome may also increase your risk of metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, leading to glucose intolerance, says Andrew Boxer, […]

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