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Low-calorie sugar alternatives could negatively affect gut health, study finds

0 2 years ago

Low-calorie sugar alternatives, which had previously been thought to be relatively harmless, may actually have a negative effect on human gut health, according to a new study.

All four substances tested in the study – saccharin, sucralose, aspartame and stevia – were found to change the gut microbiome, the collection of microbes in the gut that help protect humans against disease and enable us to digest food.

“It’s about more than just the number of calories in these ingredients,” ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said Monday on “Good Morning America,” describing the study’s findings.

The study, published this month in the medical journal Cell, included 120 healthy adults, who were given the different low-calorie sugar alternatives at levels lower than the acceptable daily intake. The participants who participated in the study did not eat low-calorie sugar alternatives as a part of their diet prior to the study.

Study participants logged all of their food and physical activity using a smartphone app, and researchers took microbiome samples from the gut and mouth.

“Basically what they did is they looked at all of these sugar substitutes, things like aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia,” said Ashton, who was not involved in the study. “Then they did some blood tests, they look at indicators of gut microbiome, and what they found was that saccharine and sucralose in particular increased the blood glucose, or ‘blood sugar’ level, [and] stevia increased our insulin level.”

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