Sweeteners harm health

Sweeteners harm health



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Sweeteners change the intestinal flora and promote diabetes
08.10.2014

Countless foods are sweetened with sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin or sodium cyclamate. Whether yogurt, lemonade, ice cream, candy or jam - sugar is considered a fattening agent and is therefore often replaced by sweeteners. Most of them are calorie-reduced "light" or "wellness" products. According to an Israeli study, sweeteners are anything but healthy, and they don't help you lose weight. Various studies in mice have shown that aspartame and the like favor type 2 diabetes and obesity, since the artificial sweeteners have a negative effect on glucose metabolism and the intestinal flora.

Glucose intolerance as a preliminary stage of diabetes People who like to sweeten with artificial substances seem to increase their risk of glucose intolerance, a pre-form of diabetes. As Israeli researchers now report in the journal "Nature", the synthetic sweeteners lead to the disturbed glucose tolerance due to a change in the intestinal flora, in which the body is no longer able to properly utilize carbohydrates such as sugar. Glucose intolerance is not only a risk factor for diabetes, but also for heart and vascular diseases.

Use of sweeteners needs to be re-evaluated The research team led by Eran Segal and Eran Elinav from the Weizmann Institute in Rechovot initially identified changes in the metabolism of mice after they had been given sweeteners. In subsequent tests, they observed the same effect in humans. The study result is considered the first concrete proof of a harmful effect of sweeteners. "The results require a reassessment of the massive use of sweeteners," said the scientists. Sweeteners are among the most commonly used additives in food worldwide. These are artificially produced substances that have a much stronger sweetness than sugar. Because of their low calorie content, they are considered a healthy alternative to high-calorie sugar. Not only diabetics, but also people who want to avoid obesity and obesity use them.

Increasing obesity and diabetics have made the researchers skeptical that, despite the widespread use of sweeteners in recent decades, the number of overweight and diabetic people worldwide has been increasing steadily. In a first experiment, the scientists added one of the three commonly used sweeteners saccharin, sucralose and aspartame to the drinking water of mice. The control group was mice that received pure water or water containing sugar. As it turned out, the animals who consumed sweeteners increased their blood sugar levels over the course of eleven weeks, but not in the control group. After the researchers killed intestinal bacteria to investigate their influence, the consumption of the sweeteners no longer influenced the blood sugar level.

Researchers surprised by negative effects In a test with seven healthy, normal-weight people who consumed sweetened foods for a week, most of them increased their blood sugar levels after five to seven days and the intestinal flora changed. "We were really surprised at the beginning," the authors said at a press conference. Even though critics have pointed out the health risks of sweeteners in the past, the Israeli researchers did not expect such negative effects. Commenting on the results, Nita Forouhi of Cambridge University said the new study shows that sweeteners may not be the "harmless silver bullet against obesity and diabetes."

Experts have been speculating about health risks for years. The suspicion that sweeteners may increase the risk of diabetes is not new. A French study published last year by the medical research institute INSERM had shown that both consumers of sugared and sweetened soft drinks had a higher risk of diabetes than women who preferred unsweetened fruit juices. Experts have speculated in the past that sweeteners may also cause cancer, allergies, headaches, or epilepsy. However, none of this could be scientifically proven. On the other hand, it has now been confirmed - even if no study has yet conclusively proven this - that food that contains sweeteners increases the feeling of hunger. However, why this is the case is not entirely clear. There are only different theories about it. Whatever the reason, this effect has so far played no role in the risk assessment of sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners promote diseases The current study now gives an indication of physical damage. If the observed glucose intolerance was actually due to the use of sweeteners, this could be a possible aspect in the massive spread of diabetes. As the German Diabetes Society has now clarified, there must be other risk factors in addition to the increase in overweight and lack of exercise. In this context, a role of the sweetener would be fatal. The scientists from Israel summed up: "Our results indicate that the artificial sweeteners promote the diseases that they were originally introduced to combat." (Ad)

Image: Alexander Klaus / pixelio.de

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