Artificial sweeteners have become a normal, mostly as part of weight management and those trying to lose some weight. There sweeteners, or synthetic sugar substitutes, are also added to processed foods and drinks to sweeten their taste. This sweetness comes without calories being added.
However, although dieters might like the idea of using artificial sweeteners, in recent years these same sweeteners have come under the spotlight. Researchers are questioning if these synthetic sugars are indeed safe. One area of research studies have been focusing on is whether artificial sweeteners are negatively affecting our gut health.
This article is a summary of the latest research, examining if artificial sweeteners can change the bacteria in the gut, and thus influence our health.
Bacteria in your gut could influence your weight and health
Firstly, you gut bacteria has a key role in many of your body’s processes. Good bacteria can protect your gut against infection, resulting in vital vitamins and nutrients being produced, helping to regulate your immune system.
If for any reason there is a swift to fewer good bacteria in the gut, then this imbalance of bacteria is referred to as dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is connected to different gut issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and coeliac disease.
More so, dysbiosis has an impact on how much you will weigh. That is since researchers have found people with normal gut bacteria weigh less than those that with less good bacteria in their guts. More so, the research conducted in South Korea and Japan, which broke new direction in weight management, found that if the bacteria of a skinny person is transferred to a fat person, the fat person will also become skinny, even if they ate the same diet. The reason is that overweight people’s bacteria is more efficient at extracting energy from the diet, therefore they get more calories from certain amount of foods.
In addition, besides weight issues, your gut could be linked to other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis, cancer and heart disease.
Artificial sweeteners could alter the balance of the bacteria in your gut
Most researcher thought that artificial sweeteners had not effect on the body as they pass through the body without being digested. But the current research is indicating a major concern – that these sweeteners are affecting our health by altering the balance of our gut bacteria. The change included a reduction of good bacteria in the gut.
Sweeteners could lead to obesity and different diseases
Oddly, even though artificial sweeteners are meant to be used to reduce weight, they could actually lead to weight gain. What researchers have found is that artificial sweeteners could increase the body mass index. Other health concerns include dementia, type 2 diabetes and stoke. In terms of type 2 diabetes, there is a concern that artificial sweeteners could increase insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.
But is artificial sweeteners less harmful than sugar?
Sugar has recently been attacked for it negative effects on one’s healthy. From heart problems, to poor mental health, taking too much sugar is not good for your health. The question now is if artificial sweeteners are better for you than sugar. To answer that, one needs to look at what these sweeteners can do. It could help you to restrict calories, thereby lose some weight, although only in the short-term.
More so, in the short-term, these sweeteners are seemed as safe. Besides cutting calories, and helping with weight loss, they also protect teeth.
In the long-term, these sweeteners places you at risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition, these sweeteners can create an imbalance in your gut bacteria.
Ideally, the best option is to reduce the use of both of the type of sweeteners, sugar and artificial. If you are concerned, you could go to natural sweeteners.