Diet Soda May Alter Our Gut Microbes And Raise The Risk Of Diabetes
The debate over whether diet sodas are good, bad or just OK for us never seems to end.
Some research suggests zero-calorie drinks can help people cut calories and fend off weight gain.
But in recent years, the idea that artificial sweeteners may trick the brain and lead to "metabolic derangements," as one researcher has theorized, has gained traction, too.
Now, a new study published in the journal Nature introduces a new idea: Diet sodas may alter our gut microbes in a way that increases the risk of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes — at least in some of us.
In the paper, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel describe what happened when they fed zero-calorie sweeteners, including saccharin, aspartame and sucralose, to mice.
"To our surprise, [the mice] developed glucose intolerance," Weizmann researcher Eran Elinav tells us.
Intrigued by the findings, Elinav and his colleague Eran Segal set out to determine whether this might happen in people as well.
First, they analyzed data collected from a group of about 400 people who are enrolled in an ongoing nutrition study. They found that people who were heavy consumers of artificial sweeteners had slightly elevated HbA1C levels (a long-term measure of blood sugar) — compared with people who rarely or never consumed artificial sweeteners.
Next, they recruited seven volunteers — people who were not in the habit of drinking diet drinks — and asked them to start consuming the equivalent of 10-12 of those fake sugar packets during a one-week experiment.
"What we find is that a subgroup [four of th Continue reading