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Few people know that the sweetener in the yellow packets, also called sucralose, was actually discovered while scientists were designing an insecticide. (1)
Even though scientists slightly modified the original insecticide into the sweetener that it is today, sucralose is still effective at killing bugs. The only difference? These bugs are microscopic and beneficial to your digestive and immune system.
A study that was published in 2008 from Duke University found that sucralose kills beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. (2)
The trial was done over a 12 week period. During the trial, researchers collected stool samples and noticed a disruption in the balance between good bacteria and bad bacteria. Even after an additional 12 weeks of recovery, levels of beneficial microflora in the gut remained “significantly depressed.”
Synthetic sweeteners found in diet foods and diet sodas may seem innocent, but they can kill healthy gut bacteria and even contribute to obesity.
Unfortunately, sucralose is touted as one of the safer artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t contain aspartame or saccharin, but is it really better?
Whether it is sucralose, aspartame, or saccharin, it seems that all synthetic sweeteners affect the bacteria in the gut and damage the intestinal wall.
Even if you avoid the colorful little packets of sweetener, sugar-free diet foods and diet sodas are often sweetened with laboratory-made artificial sweeteners to give you all the sweetness of sugar without the calories.
When we want the taste of sweet without the added calories, more often than not it is the diet soda or the sugar-free treats that we reach for.
“Diet” Foods Cause Inflammation
According to a recent review by Marta Pepino at Washington University, artificial sweeteners change the environment of the intestines by triggering an inflammatory response. (3) Inflammation disrupts normal metabolism, which ultimately contributes to obesity.
If we dig a little deeper, we find evidence suggesting that intestinal inflammation is not to be taken lightly. When it comes to artificial sweeteners, the chemicals that give us that sweet taste are actually damaging the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
Across the globe, researchers and scientists are more interested than ever in the delicate balance of bacteria within the human body. A study coming out of Zurich's Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health this past June gives a little more insight into the metabolism of artificial sweeteners and the role that microflora play in the prevention or development of disease. (4)
Short-chain fatty acids are a byproduct of bacterial metabolism. According to the team in Zurich, these short-chain fatty acids can:
- Impact satiety signals, causing us to eat more.
- Cause the lining of the gut to become inflamed.
- Enable bacteria to leak from the digestive tract into the bloodstream, which has been shown to increase risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
Get That Sweet Taste Without Damaging Gut Bacteria
Only recently have we begun to discover that gut bacteria are largely responsible for the balancing act that takes place between you and your environment.
Luckily, just like nature has given us antibiotic herbs that do not harm good bacteria, we also have a naturally sweet plant that:
- Contains no sugar
- Is free from calories
- Does not disrupt beneficial gut bacteria
- Does not contribute to obesity
Natives of the Guarani Tribe in Paraguay have enjoyed the natural sweetness of stevia for centuries. This is because stevia, or Stevia rebaudiana, is a plant with leaves that are naturally sweet and that require minimal processing. In fact, stevia leaves are so sweet, you can eat them right off the plant!
Body Ecology has extracted the sweetness from the stevia plant and concentrated it into liquid sweetener that is easy and safe to use.
Whenever you want a little extra sweetness - without all the hazards that come with too much sugar or chemical sugar alternatives - choose stevia! It’s natural, safe, and guilt-free.
Another healthy sugar substitute is Lakanto, which is made of a special fermented combination of erythritol and luo han guo. Lo han guo is getting popular under the name of monk fruit. Lakanto is granulated like sugar and bakes wonderfully without any aftertaste.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Given the fact that the popular synthetic sweetener sucralose was discovered when scientists were designing an insecticide, it would only make sense that sucralose can effectively kill beneficial bugs that boost both digestive and immune health. Although many people believe that sucralose is a safer artificial sweetener, it can cause long-term damage to the intestinal wall.
Artificial sweeteners found in popular diet foods can affect the inner ecology of the intestines by triggering inflammation. This inflammation will disrupt metabolism and can even contribute to obesity.
If you're looking to satisfy a sweet craving without affecting your digestive health, you can rely on a naturally sweet plant known as stevia - it's sugar-free and calorie-free and will not disrupt beneficial gut bacteria to contribute to obesity! When you use the Body Ecology liquid stevia sweetener, it can provide a sweet taste without any of the chemical hazards that may come from synthetic sugar alternatives.
- MB Abou-Donia, et al. Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2008; 71 (21): 1415 - 1429.
- MY Pepino, et al. Non-nutritive sweeteners, energy balance, and glucose homeostasis. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. 2011 Jul; 14 (4): 391 – 395.
- AN Payne, et al. Gut microbial adaptation to dietary consumption of fructose, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols: implications for host–microbe interactions contributing to obesity. Obesity Reviews. 2012; 13: 799 – 809.