SWEETENERS ARE TOXIC TO GUT BACTERIA AND HEALTH
If you’ve switched to Diet Coke in a bid to cut down on sugar, you might want to re-evaluate just how healthy your choices are. Scientists now claim that sweeteners found in Diet Coke and other soft drinks could damage your gut bacteria. According to scientists from universities in Israel and Singapore, six common artificial sweeteners – aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame and acesulfame potassium (Ace K) – have all been found to be toxic to gut bacteria. More and more studies are realising the importance of gut bacteria to a person’s overall health – with bad bacteria linked to a range of diseases from obesity to bowel diseases, even Alzheimer’s. The study, published in Molecules, looked at the relative toxicity of the sweeteners and 10 sports supplements containing them. It found the bacteria in the digestive system became toxic when exposed to tiny concentrations of the sweeteners. In a lab trial, the sweeteners were each exposed to bacteria that are commonly found in the gut. These bacteria were genetically modified to contain fluorescent compounds that glowed when they detected toxins. The scientists found toxins were released when gut bacteria were exposed to each artificial sweetener, and it only took one mg/ml of the artificial sweeteners to turn the bacteria toxic. A can of Diet Coke contains about 180mg of aspartame. And that’s led scientists to conclude : “This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues”. Good gut health relies on a healthy gut microbiome, which has been associated with everything from digestion and nutrient absorption to immune system function. It’s not just sugar-free drinks that contain these chemicals, either. Artificial sweeteners are used in loads of food products and drinks that boast reduced sugar content – and the study warns that many of us consume them without even realising. It’s not just our immediate health that is potentially at risk, either. These sweet chemicals have also been identified as environmental pollutants that are increasingly being found in drinking and surface water.