Last week, Diet Coke hit the headlines, after a study revealed that sweeteners in the popular drink were toxic to gut bacteria.
Now, a new study builds on that research, and suggests that these sweeteners can actually increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes .
Researchers from Adelaide Medical School found that the changes to gut bacteria caused by sweeteners also impairs the regulation of glucose levels.
The researchers, led by Dr Richard Young, said: “Our findings support the concept that such sweeteners worsen blood sugar control in healthy subjects by disrupting the regulation of glucose uptake and disposal, as well as from changes in the balance of gut bacteria.
“This highlights the clinical relevance of dietary low-calorie sweetener patterns to overall blood sugar control.”
The study involved 29 non-diabetic participants, who provided stool samples before and after the experiment.
Fifteen participants were given a placebo, while the other 14 consumed low-calorie sweeteners that were the equivalent to drinking 1.5L of a diet drink per day.
An analysis of the stool samples revealed that the participants who had consumed the sweeteners had a greater variation in the types of microbes in their faeces – and worryingly had a ‘significant reduction’ in good bacteria, called Eubacterium cylindroides.
The team also noticed a decrease in the amount of Butyrivibrio bacteria, which was linked with a drop in the release of the GLP-1 hormone, which helps control blood glucose levels.
The researchers added: “In healthy non-diabetic subjects, two weeks of low-calorie sweetener supplementation was sufficient to disrupt gut bacteria and increase the abundance of those which are normally absent in healthy individuals.
“The observed decrease in fermentative bacteria populations and changes in the pathways used by bacteria to harvest energy predicted a deterioration in the body’s ability to regulate glucose."
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