New research has uncovered a link between artificial sweeteners (such as sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin), the population of bacteria in the human digestive tract and increased blood glucose levels. Artificial sweeteners are common in many foods and diet drinks. More than 100 trillion microbes are currently taking up residence in your gut. New research by Dr. Eran Elinav has shown that zero calorie sweeteners affect the population of bacteria in the digestive tract and that this in turn incites changes such as an elevated blood sugar level. This is a correlation that has been observed, but causality is yet to be proven. New research will look at whether the metabolic changes such as increased blood sugar levels could be caused by changes in gut bacteria.
When comparing bacteria residing in guts of people who regularly consume artificial sweeteners with bacteria in the guts of people who didn’t, researchers found that the population of bacteria in the artificial sweetener group was markedly different from the population in the non artificial sweetener group.
Given the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in the American population, understanding the various metabolic changes that cause these diseases is of paramount importance. More studies are needed to establish the relationship between artificial sweeteners, the population of gut microbes, and increased blood sugar levels, but it is certainly something interesting to think about.
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