Researchers from Cambridge have recently published a study indicating that #artificial #sweeteners, synthetic sugar substitutes that are often consumed in the diet, could be causing healthy #gut #bacteria to damage the #intestine. The study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, found that three of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners, #saccharin, #sucralose and #aspartame, can cause beneficial bacteria in the intestines such as #E.coli and #E.faecalis, to become disease causing, or pathogenic.
Previous research has already shown that artificial sweeteners, commonly found in soft drinks, can change the type and number of bacteria in the gut, this research goes further and is the first to reveal that sweeteners can also make gut bacteria infectious. The study, led by researchers from Anglia Ruskin University, discovered that at a concentration equivalent to two cans of diet soft drink, the three common sweeteners significantly increased the adhesion of both E.coli and E.faecalis to intestinal #Caco-2 cells, and differentially increased the formation of #biofilms. When bacteria like E.faecalis are able to cross the gut wall and enter the blood stream they can go on to lead to blood poisoning and #sepsis, a life-threatening condition. The bacteria will gather on the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, causing several different infections and ultimately multiple-organ failure.
Artificial sweeteners are regularly consumed by many as an aid for weight loss, and their use is increasing. Globally they have now been detected in wastewater, surface water, groundwater and drinking water systems. Whilst the dangers of an overconsumption of sugar and the rise of obesity are well known, it is vital that we counter this knowledge with an increased understanding of sweeteners and their impact on our health so that we can make an informed decision when reaching for our next soft drink or snack.