We know that sugar is best avoided, certainly when trying to lose weight. So artificial sweeteners must be a good thing, right?
The effect of artificial sweeteners in obesity and diabetes has been a cause of concern for some time, with studies showing that artificial sweeteners can stimulate appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings and increase weight gain.
A recent article in Nature helps us understand why; it’s down to the friendly bacteria in the gut.
In studies on both mice and men, the research shows that consuming artificial sweeteners alters the balance of bacteria in our gut leading to glucose intolerance. Someone who is glucose intolerant experience a higher than normal increase in blood sugar after eating sugar. It is a marker for diabetes and increases the risk of weight gain and heart attacks.
So why does altering gut bacteria lead to glucose intolerance? The research shows that the ‘new’ bacteria is able to absorb more calories, which is why blood sugar levels increase more.
The human studies show that some people are more susceptible to developing glucose intolerance as a result of consuming artificial sweeteners than others.
But think again before choosing artificially sweetened products as the healthier option.