Fake sugar: toxic sweeteners for the intestinal microbiota

Aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), these six synthetic sweeteners or artificial sugars approved by the European Union would be toxic for our intestinal flora according to a new study published in Molecules et conducted by researchers from Ben-Gurion University in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Synthetic sweeteners are substitutes for sugars known for their high sweetening power, but not nutritious. Sugar without the calories in short. They are found in large numbers in food and drink products and more and more doubts about their safety are appearing among researchers. A link has nevertheless been established between the consumption of synthetic sweeteners and the development of cancers, metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, weight gain and impaired activity of intestinal microbiota.

Sweeteners have toxic effects on certain good intestinal bacteria

This is why Israeli and Singaporean researchers conducted an in vitro study. Each of the six artificial sweeteners was put in the presence of Escherichia coli bacteria, very common in the digestive tract, genetically modified to emit light in the presence of toxic substances. The researchers then measured the luminescent signals produced and the bacterial growth. Results: Toxic effects were observed when bacteria were exposed to certain concentrations of artificial sweeteners. “This is further evidence that the consumption of artificial sweeteners negatively affects the activity of the gut microbiota which can cause a wide range of problems health,” said Professor Ariel Kushmaro, co-author of the study.

Des changes in the microbiota in just two weeks in humans

Furthermore, in an oral presentation given at the congress of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) a team of researchers from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Adelaide (Australia) told how they observed other consequences of the consumption of sweeteners on the microbiota . The researchers carried out the following experiment: a group of 29 non-diabetic subjects with an average age of 29 years old was recruited. Fifteen volunteers consumed a placebo, fourteen a combination of pills containing 93 mg of sucralose and 29 mg of acesulfame potassium, equivalent to a daily consumption of 1.5 l of diet soda for two weeks! Stool analyzes before and after taking this diet were carried out, in order to determine which genera and species of microorganisms were present in the intestine.

Fake sugar: the sweeteners Aspartame, sucralose, saccharin

The results show that individuals in the “sweeteners” group show a greater change in the bacteria present in their faeces with a significant reduction in those of the genera Eubacterium and Cylindroides, associated with good health. Populations of beneficial species (particularly those that ferment food in the digestive tract) decreased while those of eleven genera of opportunistic bacteria increased. For the authors: “In healthy non-diabetic subjects, two weeks of synthetic sweetener consumption was sufficient to disrupt gut bacteria and increase the abundance of those normally absent in healthy individuals.”


Dorin Harpaz et al, Measuring Artificial Sweeteners Toxicity Using a Bioluminescent Bacterial Panel, Molecules (2018).

Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

Do you like our content?

Receive our latest publications every day for free and directly in your mailbox


Cancer Cylindroids toxic sweeteners Eubacterium Fake sugar

Related Articles

Back to top button