Saccharine, aspartame sucralose. They’re in just about every “diet” soft drink and all kinds of other everyday beverages from fruit drinks and many foods as well. Some new research recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences is now the first to show the pathogenic effects of these widely used sweeteners. It appears that they have a significant effect on two types of gut bacteria, E. coli (Escherichia coli) and E. faecalis (Enterococcus faecalis).
Senior author of the paper Dr. Havovi Chichger, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “There is a lot of concern about the consumption of artificial sweeteners, with some studies showing that sweeteners can affect the layer of bacteria which support the gut, known as the gut microbiota.
“Our study is the first to show that some of the sweeteners most commonly found in food and drink – saccharin, sucralose and aspartame – can make normal and ‘healthy’ gut bacteria become pathogenic. These pathogenic changes include greater formation of biofilms and increased adhesion and invasion of bacteria into human gut cells.
“These changes could lead to our own gut bacteria invading and causing damage to our intestine, which can be linked to infection, sepsis and multiple-organ failure.
It is already known that certain bacteria, such as E. faecalis, which cross the intestinal wall can enter the bloodstream and congregate in the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, causing a number of infections including septicaemia.” Dr. Havoi concludes.
It has long been known that sugar is a key factor in conditions such as diabetes and morbid obesity, but it may be that artificial alternatives aren’t that much better. Especially as we know good gut health is important for our overall health, including brain and immune system health.
This combined with research around processed foods that can impact inflammation in the body and contribute to increased pain from arthritis. It’s always good to avoid processed foods, so now it seems, avoid these artificial sweeteners as well. Alternative sweeteners can be better, such as honey or agave. You can promote better gut health through drinks like Kombucha and eating more fermented foods such as Kimchi or sauerkraut. Using vinegars in salad dressings and cooking are also good ways to promote healthy gut bacteria. Oh and here’s another happy food item to help good gut health; dark chocolate at over 85% cacao.
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