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Non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) promote glucose intolerance which places an individual at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus, a recently published study on Nature revealed.
According to the researchers, intestinal microbiota (resident bacteria in the gut) undergo structural and functional changes as a result of NAS consumption by the host. These alterations induce harmful effects on the individual's metabolism. Recognizing the links between NAS consumption, dysbiosis (microbial imbalance), and metabolic illnesses, the researchers proposed "reassessment" of NAS use among consumers.
The alarming effects of the said food additive are not just observed among humans. The study revealed that such effects are completely transferrable from NAS-consuming mice to germ-free mice through fecal (stool) transplantation of microbiota configurations. In addition, transfer is also possible via anaerobically incubated microbiota in the presence of NAS.
NAS were originally intended to prevent metabolic diseases, but the authors of the paper start to believe otherwise: "Our findings suggest that non-caloric artificial sweeteners may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight."
The findings have also created doubts among experts, notes The Guardian, because the researchers used only one type of sweetener on the test mice. This, in turn, raised issues on the relevance of the sweetener used for humans and its difference from other sweeteners.
A 2013 study published on NCBI revealed supportive findings. This study evaluated the relationship between sweet beverages (juices and nectars, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks) and Type 2 diabetes among European adults. The results strengthen the link between high consumption of sugar-sweetened (natural sugar) soft drinks and increased incidence of Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus is the most common form of diabetes, according to WebMD. Unlike Type 1 diabetes patients that require the external administration of the hormone, those with Type 2 are able to produce insulin in their body. Type 2 is caused by a variety of lifestyle-related factors such as smoking and unhealthy diet, while Type 1 is mostly inherited.
Both types share the same symptoms of extreme hunger, thirst and frequent urination. Complications such as diabetic retinopathy and renal failure may arise.
A "diabetic diet" centers on the principle of controlling blood sugar levels. WebMD mentions the glycemic index as a way of managing a safe diet. It suggests the daily regimen of eating foods in different colors, maintaining caloric levels and staying active.