• New study shows artificial sweeteners may increase sugar levels, affect gut health

A new peer-reviewed research has revealed that artificial sweeteners may actually increase sugar levels in the body. Highlighting that it is no longer safe to assume that artificial sweeteners are not bad for people's health, immunologist Professor Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science raised concerns about their consumption.

Consuming saccharin and sucralose harms the ability of healthy adults to dispose of glucose in their bodies, says the study published in the journal Cell. Eight years ago, a study on rodents rang alarm bells about artificial sweeteners and the current study has reiterated those fears. “They may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight,” Elinav told The Times of Israel.

The assumption that sweeteners provide a harmless hit of sweetness without any health cost is harmful, according to Elinav. While saccharin and sucralose appeared to significantly impair glucose response, when they were combined with aspartame, and stevia then all four of them caused changes in the gut bacteria.

“We found that the gut microbe composition and function changes in response to consumption of all four sweeteners, meaning that they are not inert to the human body,” said Elinav. When the faeces from some of the people were transplanted into rodents during the experiment, it bred to have no bacteria of their own.

Sweeteners reduced the ability to dispose of glucose in mice with faeces from people whose glucose tolerance was hit hardest by sweeteners. Changing the microbiome can impact glucose tolerance, and this strengthened the scientist's theory that sweeteners are affecting gut bacteria.

(With inputs from agencies)