While the consumption of sugary drinks is found to be associated with, among other things, an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, the health effect light drinks »Based on artificial sweeteners is less well known. Indeed, the data on this subject are insufficient, even if these substances are suspected of harmful side effects, especially a decrease in insulin sensitivity which can lead to type 2 diabetes. researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (England) and published in L’International Journal of Molecular Sciencesshows that the artificial sweeteners can be harmful for the gut microbiota by attacking the good bacteria, which in turn leads to health problems.
Researchers were particularly interested in the pathogenic effects of some of the most widely used artificial sweeteners in industry, saccharin, sucralose and aspartame, on two types of intestinal bacteria, E. coli (Escherichia coli) and E. faecalis (Enterococcus faecalis). Previous studies had already shown that artificial sweeteners can change the number and type of bacteria in the gut. But their study at the molecular level reveals the process: Sweeteners can make these bacteria pathogenic, and those same bacteria will then invade and kill epithelial cells that line the wall of the intestine.
“Healthy” gut bacteria become dangerous
However, “it is known that bacteria such as E. faecalis whichpass through the intestinal wall can enter the bloodstream and collect in the lymph nodes, liver and spleen, causing a number of infections, including sepsis, ”the researchers point out. The latter claim to have discovered that at a concentration equivalent to two cans of diet soda, the three artificial sweeteners significantly increase the ability of bacteria Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis, which have become pathogenic, to adhere to, invade and kill intestinal cells, and also increase their capacity to form a bacterial biofilm.
Their lab analyzes then showed that the bacteria that thrive in biofilms are less susceptible to antimicrobial treatments and more susceptible to secrete toxins in the body. “There is concern about consuming artificial sweeteners, with some studies showing that they can affect the layer of bacteria that support the gut, known as intestinal microbiota. Our study is the first to show that some of the most common sweeteners found in foods and beverages can cause pathogens. intestinal bacteria normal and healthy, ”says Dr. Havovi Chichger, lead author of the study.
What impact on health in general?
He adds: “These pathogenic changes include increased biofilm formation and increased adhesion and invasion of bacteria into human intestinal cells. This could lead our own intestinal bacteria invade and damage our gut, which can lead to infection, sepsis or even multiple organ failure. Since the consumption of artificial sweeteners in the diet continues to increase, the scientific team recommends conducting more studies to better understand how they affect the body. intestinal microbiota and how these adverse effects can be improved.
“We know that the overconsumption of sugar is a major factor in the development of pathologies such as obesity and diabetes. It is therefore important that we deepen our knowledge of sweeteners versus sugars in order to better understand their impact on our health, ”concludes Dr Havovi Chichger. This is also the opinion of ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety) which, in its last notice dated September 2019, stresses “the need to carry out new work on both the benefits and nutritional risks linked to their consumption ”. In particular for specific populations (pregnant women, children, diabetics, regular consumers) which have not been the subject of sufficient research.