The People's Perspective on Medicine

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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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?

I have been using saccharine for 70 years and dont have any problems, during WW2 u couldnt get sugar so u used it.. only little problem might be that I like to chase cars and cats and dogs
(only kidding) I am 77 now with no problems so far.

I’m a type 1 diabetic and I monitor my blood sugar frequently with a FreeStyle Libra mounted on my upper arm so that I can get a measure of blood sugar without pricking my finger and can do it as often as I want. I have tested my response to artificial sweeteners and they all raise my blood sugar. Stevia is no exception.

LIES! I’ve been using Sweet-And-Low for YEARS, and I use quite a bit of it. My flora is fine. I love Sweet & Low–it helps me keep my slim figure,

I also would like to know if stevia is included here.

If you Google Stevia you’ll find there are studies that suggest problems with that as well. As far as this latest research, at the low dose they mention I worked it out and would have to use 24 packets a day of Splenda to mimic the amount given rats in the study.

At most, I use 5 or 6 packets if Slpenda with 1 gram of fiber. I expect the fiber will compensate for the small effect on bacteria, but would like to see some studies that use the products the way humans do.

A number of people have asked about Stevia. I do believe that it is NOT harmful, and can be used without fear.

Sugar is bad, artificial sweetners are bad. What about Stevia and the Stevia/Splenda blend that I use? Has there been any studies on Stevia at all? What is safe?

My family and I have been using saccharine for 70 years since I was a child I am 77 yrs old.

During WW2, you could not get sugar so u had to use it. I dont seem to have any harmful effects from its use, except for chasing cars and dogs and cats (only kidding) seriously no problems at all.


What about Stevia in the Raw?

stevia is the way to go

What about stevia???

Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. This article is about artificial sweeteners.

The Paleo diet, along with my family doctor and cardiologist, all support Stevia as a healthy substitute for sugars and artificial sweetener. It tastes great.

Stevia is a plant. It is not artificial in any way. Check the additives in commercial products, however.

Who funded this study? If it is the sugar/high fructose corn syrup industry, then I won’t trust it. Sugar is not a benign substance either. Obesity leads to many health problems, so I consider it a risk/benefit calculation for many.

I would like to know why natural sweetners like stevia and monk fruit taste like artificial sugar to me?
Pamela H

What about Stevia? Is it harmful also?

Stevia is made from the stevia plant. It is a natural sweetener. Stevia is not an artificial sweetener.

People’s Pharmacy also reported, I believe in April of this year, that artificial sweeteners activate fat cells. As far as I can tell there are no redeeming qualities to these non-food substances.

Is stevia among the sweeteners studied? If so, what were the results?

Stevia isn’t an artificial sweetener. It is a sugar replacement so it wouldn’t be included.

The people behind the Paleo diet support only Stevia as a substitute for sugars and artificial sweeteners. My family doctor and cardiologist both agree that Stevia is one of the very few acceptable substitutes. It does the job as well as the Splenda I used to use.

Thank you for continuing the discussion of artificial sweeteners. I don’t ever see Stevia listed as an artificial sweetener and very much would like to know – since it is a natural herb – if it has any of the ill effects that artificial sweeteners seem to have.
Thank you.

I took Stevia years ago, when one could only buy it at a vitamin store. I have allergies and found myself sniffling all the time. Stevia is part of the ragweed family.

Yes, I also would like to know if Stevia listed as an artificial sweetener is bad for you.

Stevia is natural, unlike other sugar substitutes. It’s made from a leaf related to popular garden flowers like asters and chrysanthemums.

In South America and Asia, people have been using stevia leaves to sweeten drinks like tea for many years.

The new sugar tax in Britain is likely to cause a lot of harm. It is now very difficult to find squash without artificial sweeteners. Drinks sweetened artificially were already cheaper to produce. No wonder the food manufacturers were happy to comply with the new tax.

Splenda gave me uncontrolled diarrhea for years — had no clue that was causing it. Thank goodness I found out because life was at a stand-still those years!

I wonder if artificial sweeteners actually interfere with weight loss rather than promote it. One day will they be thought of like processed meat is today? Marjorie

There’s no human testing here. Pigs, mice, bacteria. What’s relevant about this article?

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