While maltodextrin and artificial sweeteners are approved for use in the Australian food market, ongoing research into their potential health effects, particularly regarding conditions like Crohn’s disease, suggests a need for cautious consumption. It underscores the importance of a balanced diet that minimizes heavily processed foods in favor of whole, unprocessed foods.
Maltodextrin an additive in baby formula & common foods
What about artificial sweeteners?
The studies below mark a significant shift in our understanding of non-nutritive sweeteners (NNSs) and their impact on human health, particularly regarding glycemic response and the gut microbiome. This research is particularly important in the context of the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in various food products.
Here’s an elaboration on the studies involved with artificial sweeteners and its implications:
- Study Design and Participants: The study was conducted on healthy individuals who normally did not consume non-nutritive sweeteners. By dividing participants into different groups, each consuming a specific sweetener or a control substance, the researchers could isolate the effects of each sweetener on the body’s glycemic response.
- Glycemic Response Findings: The continuous glucose monitoring and glucose tolerance tests conducted during the study revealed that participants who consumed saccharin and sucralose showed a heightened glycemic response. This is particularly noteworthy because it suggests that even short-term consumption of these sweeteners, in doses lower than the recommended daily intake, can impact the body’s ability to manage glucose levels.
- Impact on Gut Microbiome: The researchers also analyzed the stool microbiome samples of the participants before and after the consumption of low-calorie sweeteners. They found that all groups tested with low-calorie artificial sweeteners exhibited changes in gut bacteria and the molecules they secrete. This was also observed in the oral microbiome. These findings did not occur in the control groups, indicating a direct link between the consumption of NNSs and alterations in the microbiome.
- Implications for Human Health: These results challenge the previously held belief that non-nutritive sweeteners are biologically inert. The fact that these sweeteners can induce changes in the gut microbiome and affect glycemic responses raises concerns about their long-term effects on human health. This is particularly relevant given their common use, including among vulnerable populations like children and pregnant women.
- Quote by Dr. Michael Goran: Dr. Goran’s statement underscores a crucial point: non-nutritive sweeteners may not satisfy the craving for sweetness and could potentially lead to increased overall calorie and sugar intake. This contradicts the common perception that artificial sweeteners are a healthier alternative to sugar.
- Future Research Directions: As more studies are conducted, we can expect a deeper and more nuanced understanding of how sugar substitutes interact with the gut microbiome and affect metabolism. This research will be vital in guiding dietary recommendations and understanding the broader health implications of these widely used substances.
In summary, this study represents a critical advancement in our understanding of artificial sweeteners and their biological effects, urging a reevaluation of their role in our diets and their long-term health implications.
Given the potential risks, some health experts advise caution in the consumption of foods containing high levels of these additives, especially for individuals with a predisposition to gut-related issues or those with existing gastrointestinal disorders. It’s also crucial to recognize that individuals respond differently to various food additives. What may be problematic for one person may not necessarily cause issues for another.
1 Laudisi F., Di Fusco D., Dinallo V., Stolfi C., Di Grazia A., Marafini I., Colantoni A., Ortenzi A., Alteri C., Guerrieri F., Mavilio M., Ceccherini-Silberstein F., Federici M., MacDonald T.T., Monteleone I., Monteleone G. The food additive maltodextrin promotes endoplasmic reticulum stress–driven mucus depletion and exacerbates intestinal inflammation. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019;7:457–473
2 Bian X, Tu P, Chi L, Gao B, Ru H, Lu K. Saccharin induced liver inflammation in mice by altering the gut microbiota and its metabolic functions. Food Chem Toxicol 2017;107:530–9.