While many people around the world guzzle down diet drinks as a way of avoiding sugar, experts have warned that FDA-approved artificial sweeteners and sport supplements could be toxic. With 28 per cent of the population consuming sweeteners in food, more studies are analysing the impact these sweeteners can have on health.
The latest research has found common sweeteners used in many popular diet drinks and sport supplements could be harmful to digestive gut microbes. The research, published in the Molecules Journal, found six popular artificial sweeteners including aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k, as well as 10 sport supplements containing the ingredients, could be dangerous.
Researchers found that bacteria in the digestive system became toxic when exposed to even one milligram or millilitre of artificial sweeteners. At present, the sweeteners are used by many people as a substitute for sugar, particularly in those with diabetes or people on low-carb diets.
They give food and drinks a sweet taste and enhance food flavour without contributing much to energy intake. Experts fear the new findings about artificial sweeteners could spark many health issues.
Read more: Artificial sweeteners linked to weight gain
“We modified bioluminescent E. coli bacteria, which luminesce when they detect toxicants and act as a sensing model representative of the complex microbial system,” lead authors of the paper said. “This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues.”
Sweeteners are used in an array of products, with researchers concerned people may unknowingly be consuming the harmful ingredient. The study also found that artificial sweeteners are becoming an environment problem by polluting drinking water, surface water and groundwater aquifers.
At present, there is no consensus regarding the health consequences of artificial sweeteners, although consuming them has been linked to an array of other health problems including cancer, weight gain, metabolic disorders, migraines, type-2 diabetes, vascular events, preterm delivery, kidney function disorders, liver antioxidant system, hepatotoxicity and immune system disruptions. There are plenty of studies about the potential impacts sweeteners can have on health, but a lack of consistent evidence so far.
Last year, a report published in Medical News Today claimed artificial sweeteners could cause weight gain. During the study, researchers discovered artificial sweeteners weren’t linked to a reduction of weight or BMI (body mass index) and actually increased the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
A separate study published in the Cell Metabolism Journal found when combined with low carbohydrate diets, sugar substitutes can actually increase the quantities of calories consumed.