Artificial Sweetener Aspartame Linked to Metabolic Disease & Digestive Problems

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Jan 07, 2016 04:30 AM EST

It is difficult to turn our back completely from sugar; especially that many of us love sweets. Aspartame is a popular artificial sweetener that has been making headlines due to the safety issues linked to it.

A new study linked aspartame to metabolic disease and digestive problems Collective Evolution has learned. According to Scientific American, humans and mice digest and extract energy from food through genes and the activity of the trillions of microbes in the digestive tract. The study found out that artificial sweeteners enhance the populations of gut bacteria that are efficient at pulling energy from food and turning it into fat.

Artificial sweeteners favor the growth of bacteria that stores calories in one's hips, thighs and midriffs, said Peter Turnbaugh of the University of California, an expert on the interplay of bacteria and metabolism.

The experiment involved 10-week-old mice fed with a daily dose of aspartame, sucralose or saccharin. Another group of mice was given natural sugar. The researchers learned that those mice fed with artificial sweeteners had abnormally high blood sugar levels, an indication that their tissues are struggling to absorb glucose from their blood. This glucose intolerance can lead to diabetes and high risk of liver and heart disease.

The study concluded that artificially sweeteners "may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight" and that sweeteners are making, at least, some individuals heavier and more ill.

Per the report, there is a cause-and-effect chain from sweeteners to microbes to obesity. "We've suspected for years that changes in gut bacteria may play some role in obesity," said Ilseung Cho, gastroenterologist New York University.

Cho pointed out that one's normal diet has an impact on the bacterial population that cannot be underestimated. "We know that we don't see the weight-loss benefit one would expect from these nonnutritive sweeteners, and a shift in the balance of gut bacteria may well be the reason, especially a shift that results in a change in hormonal balances. A hormone is like a force multiplier-and if a change in our gut microbes has an impact on hormones that control eating, well, that would explain a lot," he added.

The researchers did not conclude that artificial sweeteners like aspartame cause metabolic disorders, but they are convinced that it has a significant influence on the balance of microbes in the human gut.

In April 2015, PepsiCo announced that they are removing one of its key ingredients, aspartame due to health issues, Bloomberg reported.

However, in a video from Reactions, the American Chemical Society puts the issue of aspartame causing cancer into a scientific scrutiny. The footage cited that the compound aspartame produces known as formaldehyde, a popular carcinogenic substance doesn't get stored in our bodies into potentially harmful levels.

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