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Damage Your Gut Microbiome with Artificial Sweeteners? (make yourself more prone to diabetes)

Saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame = glucose intolerance?

Sugar (sucrose) quite likely is better for you than artificial sweeteners. This is not to say that excessive sugar is ever good. Or that no sugar is good. Or that all sugars are the same. And, yes, a Mountain Dew is very good 10 hours into a double century, proven in actual usage, repeatedly. It all depends.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota

Sugar Substitutes, Gut Bacteria, and Glucose Intolerance

Non-caloric sweeteners can spur glucose intolerance in mice and some people, according to a study published today (September 17) in Nature. Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and their colleagues have uncovered “the unexpected effect that artificial sweeteners drive changes in the [gut] microbiota, which promote glucose intolerance,” said University of Chicago pathologist Cathryn Nagler, who studies how the microbiota regulate allergic responses to food and penned an editorial accompanying the study.

Although the human data provide some evidence that artificial sweeteners may have a detrimental effect on glucose metabolism in a subset of people, the authors cautioned that additional studies are needed to understand who is susceptible to the potential negative effects of artificial sweeteners and to further elucidate the mechanism by which gut microbes may drive metabolic changes.

In other words, the food industry has an enormous financial incentive to keep pushing products that may in fact be pushing entire generations towards diabetes.

The gut microbiota. So incredibly complex, yet so little study until recently. And why is there an epidemic of obesity and diabetes when untold millions have been drinking diet drinks? If diet drinks really did the trick, shouldn’t we see a correlated drop in diabetes?

The human body is very complex. It’s not just our cells, it’s a huge micro biome living inside our gut and everywhere else in our bodies. Yet we have a huge industry looking to sell us processed food, and when the financial incentive is there to sell Sugar Plus Wheat**, guess what doesn’t get funded?

* Don’t get me wrong: I just love some processed garbage, under the right circumstances. And maybe once a year.

** Wheaties (this is for you Dad): tons of sugar plus fiber plus some table sugar on top plus milk (more sugar). Have some cereal with your sugar. But at least it’s not aspartame!

To be clear: all science needs multiple repeatable confirmation to be considered solid.

Then again, we now know that idiotic advice promulgated for decades* is often bogus (eggs are bad for you, trans fats are better than butter, butter is just plain evil, high fat is bad, high fat is good, high protein is good, high carbohydrates are good**, salt raises blood pressure, and similar BS upon BS used and abused by the food industry). FUD and more FUD. A lie repeated often enough becomes believed. The bigger the lie, the more believed.

Heck, drinking pure water can kill you (hyponatremia). What’s defined as bad often depends on who’s making money on it, and that includes (at times) organic food. Food pimps. (I prefer organic as it’s often higher quality, but anyone insisting on 100% organic is irrational and irrelevant to a reasoned discussion, ditto for a blanket anti-GMO approach). But if in doubt, avoid the unproven.

* The government (which you can never trust about anything) food pyramid continues to embody stupidity in some details of its recommendations. It’s a political document in good measure.

** How do you fatten cows for hugely marbled fatty meat? Feed them a high carbohydrate diet like corn. Then the meat is rated even higher (and tastes disgusting to me). For the beef I eat, I eat only grass fed beef (preferably hard to get bison), and only lean cuts.

Natural food or products consisting essentially of natural food is the only sensible way to go, and only in moderate amounts that respond to nutritional needs. Free of growth hormones, antibiotics, excessive marbled fat (beef), pesticides, etc. Organic is good, but not the only possibility.

See also

When bacteria-killing viruses take over, it’s bad news for the gut

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