July 27, 2021

Sweeteners and the intestinal flora: they can make you seriously ill

New study
Light drinks and diet yoghurt: sweeteners damage the intestinal flora – and can make you seriously ill

They have long been suspected of causing mischief in the intestinal flora: sweeteners. Now a study has proven it again. Healthy intestinal bacteria are converted into harmful microbes. The consequences are not to be underestimated.

It is now well known that excessive consumption of sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes. So it’s better to grab the artificial sweetener tablet in your coffee, light drinks and diet yoghurt? Better not, because the common sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose have long been suspected of causing mischief in the intestines. As early as 2014, Israeli scientists found out that sweeteners disrupt the intestinal flora and glucose metabolism. Until then, it was assumed that sweeteners were safe because they would not be absorbed by the intestine.

Another study now shows exactly the opposite. The scientists at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge have discovered that sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine and sucralose can transform healthy intestinal bacteria into pathogenic microbes.

Just two cans of Coca Cola can damage the intestinal flora

The study, which was published in the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences”, now shows the harmful effects that sweeteners can have. The scientists have shown that saccharine, sucralose and aspartame can convert two types of intestinal bacteria into harmful intestinal dwellers. These are Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis. These are two so-called pathogenic bacteria that adhere to Caco-2 cells.

Sugar cubes

Normally these bacteria are harmless, but if they leave the intestines it can be dangerous. Sweeteners help those bacteria to penetrate the intestinal wall. The E. faecalis bacterium could collect in the liver, spleen and kidneys and cause a number of infections. Study director and biomedical scientist Dr. Havovi Chichger warns in a letter: “These changes could lead to our own intestinal bacteria entering our bloodstream and damaging our intestines, which in the worst case leads to infections, sepsis and multiple organ failure.” Two cans of Coca Cola with sweetener are enough to have a lasting negative effect on the intestinal flora.