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Sugar is a hot topic when it comes to nutrition. The idea that sugar is bad for your health has been advocated by many and cutting back on it has been recommended if you are someone trying to lose weight. You won't experience a jump in your blood sugar just from eating anything that has been sweetened with a sugar substitute. One way recommended by many that could help control the outcome is artificial sweeteners. But a team of American researchers found that sugar substitutes might not be the best option for you. That's because these artificial sweeteners only excite your sweet receptors, giving you flavour without calories. They don't actually contain glucose.
In fact, research indicates that artificial sweeteners may have negative effects on your body's capacity to metabolise glucose and insulin and may even promote obesity over the years.
As per the study published in the journal Cell, researchers found that sugar substitutes might be the conventional wisdom that these sugar replacements have no effect on humans might be wrong. They found that some of them could modify the microbiomes of consumers, which could impact their blood sugar levels.
In 2014, the senior author of the study and his team found that non-nutritive sweeteners changed the microbiomes of mice in a way that may have affected the way they responded to glycemic stimuli. The scientists wondered if similar results applied to humans as well.
For the study, the research team included more than 1300 participants who rigorously abstain from non-nutritive sweets in their daily lives. From these participants, six groups were formed: two served as controls, and the other four consumed aspartame, saccharin, stevia, or sucralose at levels that were much lower than the daily limits advised by the FDA. The researchers found that the patients who took the non-nutritive sweeteners experienced noticeable microorganisms as well as the chemicals they secreted into the blood. This seems to suggest that each of these sweeteners has an impact on the bacteria in the human stomach. The researchers found that mice that consumed non-nutritive sweeteners developed glycemic alterations in a highly personalized manner to the microbiome changes.
Researchers found that the effects of the sweeteners will vary from one person to another due to the remarkably unique makeup of our microbiome. They have the opinion that people should know artificial sweeteners are not as innocuous to humans as originally believed. However, more research is needed to understand the health implications of sugar substitutes for people.
(With inputs from agencies)
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