Are Artificial Sweeteners to blame for Obesity Epidemic?

Obesity Epidemic

There is a growing concern amongst the scientific and nutrition community as to whether artificial sweeteners are doing more harm than good in the fight against obesity. A recently published study in Nature International Weekly journal of Science, is stating that artificial sweeteners induce intolerance by altering the gut microbiota.  The research team composed of several scientists in the fields of Chemistry, Nutrition and Health, have stated that according to their results that Non-Caloric Artificial Sweeteners appear to lead in higher blood sugar. What this means is that the chemicals in these substances instead of interfering with the functions of your organs, but they have a negative interaction with the “friendly” bacteria in our guts.

To get to these results, the research team compared the blood levels of mice who had drank water with different artificial sweeteners, to mice that were drinking only plain water or sugar water. The results were that the mice who drank sweeteners had a spike of blood sugar levels compared to the mice who drank the regular water AND the mice who drank sugar water. Further studies to the mice who drank the sweeteners developed glucose intolerance and when the researchers ran some analysis of the gut bacteria of the mice, they found a large number of bacteria that are commonly linked to both obesity and diabetes.

After getting the results from mice, the researchers moved on to test human subjects. Measuring the blood sugar levels of people who are regular consumers of artificial sweeteners versus people who are not. They ran a test on a number of people for during a week. After a weeks time, the human subjects exposed to artificial sweeteners developed some glucose intolerance, and some were showing an abundance of gut microbes linked to glucose intolerance, obesity and diabetes.

What these researchers believe is that Artificial Sweeteners aren’t being absorbed by the body, so they make their way through our intestines and negatively interact with the “friendly” bacteria we have in our digestive system. While sweeteners might not destroy your metabolism, they do some sort of harm to the process. And it should be pointed out that these initial results, while revealing still warrant further studies on the real mechanics of what is truly causing for this reaction towards sweeteners as a percentage of the tested individuals did not show the same results.

For the time being, the researchers hope that this study at the very minimum instates new debate on the real benefits and harms of Artificial Sweeteners.