Study Finds That Artificial Sweeteners Induce Glucose Intolerance by Altering Gut Microbiota


Source: Nature

Non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) are among the most widely used food additives worldwide, regularly consumed by lean and obese individuals alike. NAS consumption is considered safe and beneficial owing to low caloric content, yet supporting scientific data regarding the health impact of NAS use remains sparse and controversial. This study published in Nature demonstrates that consumption of commonly used non-caloric artificial sweeteners drives the development of glucose intolerance through alterations to the intestinal microbiota. The study found that these detrimental metabolic effects mediated by artificial sweetener use can be countered by antibiotic treatment, and also noticed that the metabolic effects of artificial sweetener use are fully transferable to germ-free mice upon transplantation of microbiota configurations from NAS-consuming mice. The study identified artificial-sweetener-altered microbial metabolic pathways that are linked to host susceptibility to metabolic disease, and demonstrate similar artificial-sweetener-induced microbial imbalance and glucose intolerance in healthy human subjects. The study results collectively link artificial sweetener consumption, microbial imbalance, and metabolic abnormalities, thereby prompting the study authors to call for a reassessment of massive artificial sweetener consumption by humans.

(Study authors: Jotham Suez, Tal Korem, David Zeevi, Gili Zilberman-Schapira, Christoph A. Thaiss, Ori Maza, David Israeli, Niv Zmora, Shlomit Gilad, Adina Weinberger, Yael Kuperman, Alon Harmelin, Ilana Kolodkin-Gal, Hagit Shapiro, Zamir Halpern, Eran Segal, and Eran Elinav)