Research: Higher diabetes risk from sweeteners

Research: Higher diabetes risk from sweeteners

Increased diabetes risk from sweeteners?
18.09.2014

Sweeteners are used not only by people who want to fight their overweight, but also by many diabetics. But, according to a new study, the artificial substances could also trigger glucose intolerance, a pre-form of diabetes.

Sweeteners apparently harmful to certain intestinal bacteria Sweeteners are becoming increasingly popular in many countries: slim people want to stay slim, people with overweight and obesity want to lose pounds, diabetics want to keep their disease under control. However, as a new study now shows, sweeteners as sugar substitutes do not lower the risk of diabetes, they could actually increase it. The study published on Wednesday in the journal "Nature" states that the artificial substances are apparently harmful to certain intestinal bacteria. They would also lead to glucose intolerance. The body is no longer able to properly utilize carbohydrates such as sugar.

Reassessing the use of such additives The researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel conducted experiments with mice and a small group of test participants for their study. According to the team of scientists led by Eran Elinav, the studies showed that the substances saccharin, sucralose and aspartame could change the composition of the bacteria in the intestine and their function. As the researchers continue to report, this may interfere with the regulation of blood sugar levels, which subsequently increase. Therefore, they advise re-evaluating the use of such additives in food. At the moment, the calorie-free, artificial sweeteners are "among the most commonly used additives worldwide", the scientists say.

Studies on mice and humans In order to arrive at their results, the researchers mixed the drinking water of mice with the three sweeteners mentioned. Mice that received pure water or water containing sugar were used as a control group. It was found that the animals who consumed sweeteners increased their blood sugar levels over the course of eleven weeks, but not in the control group. When the scientists killed intestinal bacteria to investigate their influence, the consumption of the sweeteners no longer influenced the blood sugar level. In a test with seven people who consumed sweetened foods for a week, most of them increased their blood sugar levels after five to seven days and the intestinal flora changed.

Health recommendations do not change based on the study Nita Forouhi from the University of Cambridge commented on the "Nature" article and said that the new study shows that sweeteners may not be the "harmless magic bullet against obesity and diabetes". Both she and other scientists emphasized that the study does not allow any real conclusions due to the small number of subjects and the short duration of the study. Therefore, previous health recommendations should not be changed based on the new study alone. The suspicion that sweeteners may increase the risk of diabetes is not brand new. For example, a French study published last year by the medical research institute INSERM showed that both consumers of sugared and sweetened soft drinks had a higher risk of diabetes than women who preferred unsweetened fruit juices. (ad)

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