Right now, your gut is swimming with bacteria — good and bad. Maintaining a good balance between the two is key to helping you stay healthy. One of the ways to support that is to give your gut flora supportive food, not detrimental. Sugar and artificial sweeteners can affect your gut health in some not-so-friendly ways. You probably have heard about the artificial sweeteners aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose—three of the biggest offenders—but can also add sugar to that list.
Shocking Facts about Artificial Sweeteners and Your Gut
Here’s a rundown of three problems artificial sweeteners could cause.
1. Fake Sweeteners Cause Glucose Intolerance
One study suggests Splenda, a popular sucralose-based sweetener, can decrease good bacteria levels in the gut.  But it’s not just sucralose; other studies suggest all artificial sweeteners can actually influence the microbiome (your gut’s bacteria). This loss of good bacteria can lead to glucose intolerance, something that could lead to diabetes. 
2. Artificial Sweeteners Lead to Weight Gain
If you’re using artificial sweeteners and sugar, you might want to know that a recent report suggests fake sweeteners can actually change the way your body processes sugar. Yes, while this could raise blood sugar, leading to a bigger issue like diabetes, weight gain is also an outcome. Because these sweeteners contain no calories, they’re not digested, but they still have to travel through the gut. While there, they “may favor the growth of bacteria that make more calories available to us, calories that can then find their way to our hips, thighs and midriffs.” 
3. Sugar Damages Your Gut Flora
Another recent study even suggests sugar can promote the growth of bad bacteria in the gut.  This could lead to irritation in the gut, which could even manifest itself as an autoimmune response (allergies and skin conditions are two milder problems). There’s even recent evidence suggesting depression is actually your body’s response to swelling in the gut. 
One Final Thought
While the best thing you can do is cut sugar and artificial sweeteners out of your life completely, avoiding them might not always be practical for most people. An easy suggestion would be to support your gut health by taking probiotics (those “good” bacteria).
What do you do to keep a healthy gut? Tell us about it in the comments below.
- Abou-Donia, M.B. et al. Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A. 71 (21).
- Suez, J. et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature. 514 (7521).
- Shell, E. R. Artificial Sweeteners May Change Our Gut Bacteria in Dangerous Ways. Scientific American. 312 (4).
- Brown, K. et al. Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease. Nutrients. 4 (8).
- Dantzer, R. et al. From inflammation to sickness and depression: when the immune system subjugates the brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience.
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