Less Sugar, still unhealthy? Diet Coke & Co. may harm Gut Bacteria


calendar_today   SEP 15, 2023
diet products may harm gut bacteria

Diet drinks often get bad press for potentially causing weight gain, fatigue, and increasing diabetes risk. 

A new study sheds light on another negative impact of consuming diet beverages: they might harm our gut bacteria.

A balanced gut plays a pivotal role in keeping the rest of the body healthy. Thus, it's essential to maintain this balance.

According to recent research, those who care about their gut health should avoid a particular product: diet sodas. 

These beverages, the study suggests, negatively impact the gut's microbial environment.

"All the tested sweeteners affected the bacteria in some manner"

Six Sweeteners Show Impact on Gut Bacteria 

Scientists from Singapore collaborated with Israeli researchers to study the effects of diet drinks on gut bacteria, specifically Escherichia coli. They examined six artificial sweeteners approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The researchers used modified versions of the bacteria, which emitted bioluminescent light based on various triggers. For instance, one type glows when its DNA is damaged, while another emits light when its cell walls or proteins are harmed.

The findings were clear: "All the tested sweeteners affected the bacteria in some manner," said study author Evgeni Eltzov. 

Each sweetener produces a unique color pattern, indicating potential varied impacts on the body. Some might harm the bacteria's DNA more, while others might target proteins.

Further Research Required 

This study was conducted in lab test tubes, so we can't directly apply the findings to humans, Eltzov emphasized. 

Moreover, the concentrations of artificial sweeteners used in the study were higher than what a person would typically consume in a can or glass of diet soda. Plus, not all the sweetener ingested reaches the gut during human digestion.

More research is thus essential to address open questions concerning diet beverages' effects on human gut bacteria. However, based on the current study, Eltzov concludes it might be better to avoid diet drinks.

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Measuring Artificial Sweeteners Toxicity Using a Bioluminescent Bacterial Panel, Published: 25 September 2018