FDA-approved artificial sweeteners and
sport supplements were found to be toxic to digestive gut microbes,
according to a new paper published in Molecules by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
The collaborative study indicated relative toxicity of six
artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame,
advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k) and 10 sport supplements
containing these artificial sweeteners. The bacteria found in the
digestive system became toxic when exposed to concentrations of only one
mg./ml. of the artificial sweeteners.
"We modified bioluminescent E. coli bacteria, which
luminesce when they detect toxicants and act as a sensing model
representative of the complex microbial system," says Prof. Ariel
Kushmaro, John A. Ungar Chair in Biotechnology in the Avram and Stella
Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, and member of
the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the
National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev. "This is further
evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut
microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues."
Artificial sweeteners are used in countless food products and soft
drinks with reduced sugar content. Many people consume this added
ingredient without their knowledge. Moreover, artificial sweeteners have
been identified as emerging environmental pollutants, and can be found
in drinking and surface water, and groundwater aquifers.
"The results of this study might help in understanding the relative
toxicity of artificial sweeteners and the potential of negative effects
on the gut microbial community as well as the environment.
Furthermore, the tested bioluminescent bacterial panel can
potentially be used for detecting artificial sweeteners in the
environment," says Prof. Kushmaro.