Study finds link between artificial sweeteners and heart disease

Artificial sweeteners may raise risk of heart disease, elevate blood sugar – NBC News

Artificial sweeteners may be harmful to your health, according to new research.

The BMJ published a study Wednesday that involved more than 100,000 adults in France and found an association between artificial sweeteners and heart disease.

Aspartame, a sugar substitute found in tabletop sweeteners Equal and NutraSweet, as well as cereals, yogurt, candy, and diet soda, was found to increase stroke risk in people who did not consume it.

People who consumed a high amount of sucralose – found in Splenda, baked goods, ice cream, canned fruit, flavored yogurt, and syrups – or acesulfame potassium – often used in “sugar-free” sodas were at a higher risk of coronary heart disease.

Research director at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research Mathilde Touvier said artificial sweeteners might not be a safe alternative to sugar.

A smaller study found that consuming non-nutritive sweeteners – sugar substitutes that contain few calories or nutrients – can alter gut microbes and raise blood sugar levels. A high blood sugar level can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Earlier research found that artificial sweeteners could raise one’s risk of infection and organ failure by causing gut bacteria to invade the intestine wall.

Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer risk in previous studies.

According to Dr. Katie Page, an associate professor of medicine at United Southern California University, the more data showing these adverse health effects, the less we will want to promote switching from added sugars to nonnutritive sweeteners.

The best alternative, however, isn’t regular sugar, Page said.

People should eat sugar in moderation and try to decrease sugar consumption, she said. “And the way to do that isn’t to consume more non-nutritive sweeteners.”

According to Page, some natural sweeteners aren’t good either.

She said she would not switch to agave. Although people think that’s healthy, it’s actually very high in fructose.”

Increasing evidence linking sweeteners to heart disease

In general, artificial sweeteners are low- or no-calorie additives that are often used in soft drinks, yogurt, granola bars, cereal, and microwave meals. Additionally, Equal, Splenda, Sweet ‘N Low, and Truvia are sold as tabletop sweeteners.

As a healthier alternative to sugar, these sweeteners were originally marketed as an alternative to excess consumption of sugar, which promotes obesity and diabetes.

In this study, researchers evaluated how the overall consumption of artificial sweeteners impacts heart disease risk. In previous studies, artificially sweetened beverages were primarily studied for their impact on heart disease risk.

In her study, the amount of sweetener considered a large amount was 77 milligrams per day, or a little less than two packets of tabletop sweetener.

Among participants, soft drinks accounted for more than half of their artificial sweetener consumption, while tabletop sweeteners accounted for 30%. 8% of the sweetened dairy products were yogurt or cottage cheese topped with fruit.

The most widely consumed artificial sweetener worldwide is sucralose, while aspartame has become less popular.

According to her, sodas are the largest source of artificial sweeteners in our food supply, but many of these sweeteners are found in healthy foods.

Sports drinks and flavored yogurts are two excellent examples.

Page suggested eating naturally sweet fruit instead of sugary foods. If water does not satisfy your thirst, she suggests carbonated water without artificial sweeteners.

Your metabolism could be disrupted, and your blood sugar could be elevated by sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body’s metabolic ability to properly metabolize glucose, which can be a risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Last month, Israeli researchers studied 120 people for two weeks with four artificial sweeteners – aspartame, saccharin, stevia, and sucralose. Sweetener consumption was limited to six sachets per day, which is acceptable to the Food and Drug Administration.

The researchers observed changes in the composition and function of gut microbes that break down food and fight disease-causing bacteria. People who do not consume artificial sweeteners do not experience these changes.

According to study author and microbiome researcher Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science, all four sweeteners changed the microbiome in their own unique way.

Some people were unable to process glucose properly after consuming sucralose and saccharin (found in Sweet ‘N Low).

“It changed the way the bugs in their gut functioned, which resulted in high glucose levels,” Page explained.

Researchers even transferred gut microbes from study participants with significant metabolism changes into mice. According to Elinav, the mice also developed blood sugar problems.

It’s pretty good evidence that [artificial sweeteners] affect metabolism and gut microbiome, according to Page.

She said her team is now investigating how artificial sweeteners may affect children’s metabolic conditions.

“There have been very few studies on children, and there is evidence that the consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners is even higher among children and adolescents,” she noted.

For more coverage on this story, check the following additional news sources:

  1. Artificial sweeteners may raise risk of heart disease, elevate blood sugar  NBC News
  2. Study: Diet soda increases risk of heart disease; Artificial sweeteners in diet drinks harmful  WION
  3. Artificial Sweeteners Linked to Higher CV Event Risk  Medscape
  4. Some artificial sweeteners may be linked to heart disease, study says  UPI News
  5. Higher Artificial Sweetener Consumption Linked to CVD Risk  KTBS