They have been suspected for a long time, but a recent study has proven it again: Artificial sweeteners, such as those found in diet cola, damage the intestinal flora in the long term. They previously convert healthy intestinal bacteria into harmful microbes – with serious consequences.
A sweetener tablet in the coffee, a light drink in between and a diet yogurt for those who are hungry – many think they are on the safe side when it comes to calories. I even hope to lose weight as a result without having to sacrifice taste. But artificial sweeteners have negative effects on the intestinal flora, warn researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge). According to their research, aspartame, saccharine and sucralose convert healthy intestinal bacteria into pathogenic microbes.
How the most common artificial sweeteners damage the intestinal flora
Sweeteners have long been suspected of having a negative impact on the microbiome. The study published in the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences” shows for the first time the damaging effects of the most frequently used sweeteners on the intestinal flora.1 Scientists discovered that saccharine, sucralose and aspartame convert two types of intestinal bacteria into harmful intestinal dwellers. These are Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis, two so-called pathogenic bacteria that adhere to Caco-2 cells. These line the intestinal wall, penetrate and kill it. Usually said bacteria are harmless and even useful, but cause great damage once they leave the intestines.
Even 2 cans of lemonade with sweeteners is a danger to the intestinal flora
But that is exactly what happens with the help of artificial sweeteners, it continues. For example, when E. faecalis crosses the intestinal wall, it accumulates in the liver, spleen, and kidneys, where it can cause a variety of infections. “These changes could lead to our own intestinal bacteria penetrating our bloodstream and damaging our intestines, which in the worst case leads to infections, sepsis and multi-organ failure,” warns study leader and biomedicist Dr. Havovi Chichger in a press release.2 In order to increase the concentration of E. coli and E. faecalis on the Caco-2 intestinal cells, it does not need rough amounts. According to the researchers, even two doses of lemonade a day with sweeteners pose a serious risk to the intestinal flora.
If so-called biofilms and clumps form on the intestinal wall in this way, the bacteria located there are less susceptible to antibiotics. They also tend to secrete toxins. All factors that make you sick in the long run.
Researchers cite the consumption of artificial sweeteners as a matter of concern
“The increasing consumption of artificial sweeteners is very worrying,” Chichger added. “We know that excessive sugar consumption is an important factor in causing diseases such as obesity and diabetes. It is therefore important that we expand our knowledge of sweeteners in comparison to sugar in the diet in order to better understand the effects on our health, ”said the biomedical scientist.