Artificial sweeteners are commonly used in foods and drinks, but did you know that they actually have a toxic effect on digestive gut microbes? Researchers discovered that six common artificial sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration and 10 sport supplements, contacting the artificial sweetener, were found to be toxic to the digestive gut microbes in mice, according to the study published in the  journal Molecules.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore began testing the toxicity of aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k. The two universities observed that when only exposed to 1 milligram per milliliter of artificial sweeteners, that the bacteria found in the digestive system became toxic.

“This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues,” Ariel Kushmaro, a professor in BGU’s department of biotechnology engineering, said in a press release.

The gut microbial system “plays a key role in human metabolism,” and artificial sweeteners can “affect host health, such as inducing glucose intolerance,” according to the study. CNBC reports that some of the effects from the new FDA-approved sweeteners, such as neotame, are still unknown. However, the study discovered that when the mice are treated with the artificial sweetener neotame, it experienced different metabolic patterns than those not treated. The concentrations of several fatty acids, lipids and cholesterol were also higher in the mice treated with neotame than in those who weren’t treated.

This may lead to bigger issues as the use of artificial sweeteners in drinks and foods are becoming widespread with many people continuing to consume it, without quite knowing it. Not only are artificial sweeteners bad for your health, but some have even been identified as environmental pollutants. Researchers noted that it can also be found in drinking water.

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