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From Takepart.com

We may finally know why artificial sweeteners are linked to weight gain.

September 18, 2014

Jason Best is a regular contributor to TakePart who has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

For a while now, scientists have been gathering compelling evidence that the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda and a slew of processed foods sometimes do the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to. Instead of helping us shed pounds, they increase our risk for weight gain and lead to metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Why?

Turns out, the answer may have been in our gut all along.

In a new study published this week in Nature, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, have found that a steady diet of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin seems to alter gut bacteria in a way that causes blood-sugar levels to rise. That’s the first domino in a chain reaction that can lead to glucose intolerance, weight gain, diabetes, and other related health problems. Not only does the study appear to shed light on the vexing question of why artificial sweeteners might be doing us more harm than good, but it’s part of the next big frontier in medical science: the trillions of bacteria and other minuscule organisms that call our bodies home.

The researchers at Weizmann started with mice. First, they found that mice given water laced with artificial sweeteners developed glucose intolerance. This was not the case for mice given plain old water or (surprisingly) sugar water. It’s part of what has puzzled researchers all along: How can “zero-calorie” sweeteners, which our bodies don’t metabolize into energy or store as fat, cause blood-sugar levels to rise?

The answer, according to the new study, may have to do with proximity. While we don’t digest those sweeteners, they nevertheless come into contact with the legions of bacteria that live in our gut. When researchers used antibiotics to wipe out the gut bacteria of mice, it completely reversed the effects of the artificial sweeteners on the mice’s glucose metabolism. Likewise, when scientists took the gut bacteria from glucose-intolerant mice and transferred it to mice that had had their gut bacteria eradicated, the recipients became glucose intolerant. Analyzing the bacteria more closely, the scientists found “profound changes” in the bacterial populations, “including new microbial functions that are known to infer a propensity for obesity, diabetes, and complications of these problems in both mice and humans.”

 

Read the rest here…

 

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