Artificial sweeteners and sports supplements may be toxic to digestive gut microbes, a study warns. The study, published in the journal Molecules, indicated relative toxicity of six artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k) and 10 sport supplements containing these artificial sweeteners.
The bacteria found in the digestive system became toxic when exposed to concentrations of only one milligramme/millilitre of the artificial sweeteners. “We modified bioluminescent E coli bacteria, which luminesce when they detect toxicants and act as a sensing model representative of the complex microbial system,” said Ariel Kushmaro of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel.
“This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues,” said Kushmaro. Artificial sweeteners are used in countless food products and soft drinks with reduced sugar content. Many people consume this added ingredient without their knowledge.
Moreover, artificial sweeteners have been identified as emerging environmental pollutants, and can be found in drinking and surface water, and groundwater aquifers.
“The results of this study might help in understanding the relative toxicity of artificial sweeteners and the potential of negative effects on the gut microbial community as well as the environment,” said Kushmaro. The tested bioluminescent bacterial panel can potentially be used for detecting artificial sweeteners in the environment,” he said.