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Will Artificial Sweeteners Harm Your Microbiota?

Artificial sweeteners appear to be toxic to bacteria similar to those that inhabit our intestines. That could potentially be bad news for our health, too.
MIAMI, USA – April 21, 2015: A box of Sweet’N Low. The popular artificial sweetener is made from granulated saccharin with dextrose and cream of tartar.

Artificial sweeteners are extremely popular, since they appear to allow us to break the rules and enjoy sweet drinks or treats without gaining weight. The FDA has approved a number of artificial sweeteners, and most people assume that these products are safe.

How Safe Are Artificial Sweeteners?

A new study suggests, however, that compounds such as aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), saccharine and acesulfame potassium (Sunett) may harm the bacteria that live in our digestive tracts (Molecules, Sept. 25, 2018). The researchers, working in Israel and Singapore, discovered that six such non-nutritive sweeteners slow the reproduction of bacteria that light up in the presence of toxins. The indicator bacteria showed luminescence even at low levels of sweetener.

If Artificial Sweeteners Are Toxic to our Gut Flora, They May Not Be Good for Us:

Ten sports supplements containing artificial sweeteners were also toxic to these bacteria, known collectively as microbiota. We rely on our microbiota for all sorts of health benefits, including digestive tract health. In fact, the proper balance of microbiota seems to control both constipation and diarrhea. Consequently, the research raises the possibility that artificial sweeteners might also be bad for us over the long run.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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comments (41 total)
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More BS from “they.” If it upsets your gut, don’t eat it. That is what “I” say.

I know of a Doctor who recommends using Xylitol to kill some strains of mouth bacteria, which may be linked to cardiovascular disease. One could just gargle with it, and not swallow it, to minimize intestinal effect.

And what about xylitol and sorbitol? I don’t see them listed among the sweeteners tested. Would they have the same effects?

A few of the people in this discussion have asked about Stevia. They don’t specify whether they are asking about the common stevia extract product found on store shelves everywhere, or the natural, unrefined stevia leaf product. There is a huge difference between the two. Stevia extract sweeteners go through a complex refining process using some pretty harsh chemicals like acetone, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, and isopropanol, some of which are believed to be carcinogenic. Obviously, the stevia extract is much more likely to be detrimental to the microbiota.

No one ever mentions tooth decay… Excessive weight gain… It’s a trade-off in life… Sun helps produce a better form of vitamin D… The sun can give you skin cancer… I have a hard time believing anybody is going to dying from artificial sweeteners but lots of people die from diabetes and believe it or not, abscessed teeth from tooth decay

I used these sweeteners for over 20 years and during that time rarely suffered from infections. I then decided to revert back to sugar in hot drinks etc and started having various infections for some unknown reason that is until I read this article and realised the sweeteners in my case were protecting me from infections and as regarding my gut I have always eaten yogurt which must have protected the good bacteria. End of the day I say if you are doing ok on whatever food you eat stick with it regardless of what the latest research shows because they were wrong before remember the low fat take statins drive? Now we know eating healthy fats actually lowers cholesterol and they were so wrong about that or was it driven as usual by the drug companies….

Many articles about the dangers of artificial sweeteners. Nothing bad about stevia that I have found. It is a plant after all.
A friend left her Splenda here and I used it to kill ants. Works well.
It has an interesting history you might want to check out.
Please keep warning all about ALL the dangers . Thank you

What about xylitol and erythritol? They taste just like sugar and kill the bacteria that cause cavities? Only side effect I know is can make things move faster thru the digestive tract. But to me, that just makes them a little help w/ chronic constipation. Has anyone studied their effects on bacteria necessary to digestion?

What about Allulose, a natural sugar substitute that is not artificial nor a sugar alcohol?

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