Artificial Sweeteners Should “Not” Be Assumed Safe According to Experts

Experts caution that consumers should “not assume that artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas and low-fat desserts are harmless.”

Researchers from the John Hopkins University in Maryland and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, both close to Tel Aviv, conducted a study in which they administered 120 participants artificial sweeteners up to three times each week for a period of 14 days.

The dose of each supplement did not exceed the 50 milligrams per kilo of body weight recommended by the Food and drug Administration (FDA).

The study found that those who were given aspartame and stevia had an altered gut microbiome. Aspartame and stevia are typically found in diet sodas and juices.

Meanwhile, those who were given saccharin and sucralose where less able to absorb sugar. Saccharin and sucralose are sugars substitutes often used for baking.

To monitor blood sugar levels, each participant wore a glucose monitor for the duration of the trial. Glucose tolerance tests were regularly administered.

Stool samples were also taken from each participant and implanted into mice who had no gut microbiome.

The amount of each supplement used did not go over the FDA’s 50 milligrams per kilo of body weight recommendation (FDA).

According to the study, those who received aspartame and stevia had altered gut microbiomes. Normally, diet sodas and juices contain aspartame and stevia.

The ability to absorb sugar was decreased in those who received saccharin and sucralose. The sugar substitutes saccharin and sucralose are frequently used in baking.

For the course of the experiment, each participant wore a glucose monitor to track blood sugar levels. Tests for glucose tolerance were routinely conducted.

Additionally, each participant’s stool samples were implanted into mice lacking the gut microbiome.

The findings revealed that sucrose and saccharine impaired sugar absorption, and the gut flora was altered by all four sweeteners.

Our investigation has demonstrated that non-nutritive sweeteners may impair glucose responses by changing our microbiome, according to study leader Dr. Eran Elinav.

Dr Elinav added: “In my opinion as a physician, once it has been noted that non-nutritive sweeteners are not inert to the human body, the burden of proof of demonstrating or refuting their potential impacts on human health is at the responsibility of those promoting their use and we should not assume they are safe until proven otherwise. Until then, caution is advised.”

Dr. Elinav added that a lengthy investigation would be required to ascertain whether sweets increase the chance of developing diabetes.

The immunologist clarified, however, that sugar consumption is a “well-proven health risk for obesity, diabetes, and its health implications.”

The FDA has given the go-ahead for the use of all four of the sweeteners used in the trial. The FDA does not keep as tight an eye on stevia, which is frequently used in diet soda drinks, because it is considered to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).

Food additives must go through a premarket review and receive FDA approval. However, GRAs substances don’t need premarket approval, so businesses can choose whether to use them or not without having to inform the FDA.

The World Health Organization started a public consultation earlier this year to find out the health effects of sweeteners.

The meta-analysis of studies came to the following conclusion: “Further research is needed to determine whether the observed associations are genuine, or a result of study design. Results from prospective cohort studies suggest the possibility of long-term harm in the form of increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality.”