A major study shows that the consumption of artificial sugars disrupts sugar metabolism by disrupting the function of intestinal bacteria. Diet drinks and foods are not as harmless as the industry wants us to believe! On the contrary, people who consume artificial sugars, diet sodas for example, have an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease
The functioning of our body, and our brain in particular, requires significant amounts of sugar. Having a sweet tooth is therefore completely normal! This innate attraction to sugar can however become problematic in modern times: we do not always realize it, but more than 80% of the foods produced by the food industry contain added sugars, which exposes us daily to astronomical quantities. of sugar, much higher than those needed to meet our biochemical needs. This overconsumption of sugar obviously leads to the absorption of a surplus of calories and research has shown that this excess of sugar is directly responsible for the overweight epidemic which affects most industrialized countries.
Sugar is such an essential ingredient in the taste of processed foods that it is virtually impossible for the industry to eliminate this substance. Their products would no longer taste anything and sales would take a nosedive! To reduce the calories from sugar, the industry instead uses sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose that mimic the sweet taste, but are calorie-free.
In theory, the consumption of these artificial sugars should therefore allow consumers to satisfy their attraction to sugar, without ingesting excess energy that can lead to overweight and the health problems associated with overweight and obesity. , such as diabetes or hypertension.
However, the reality is quite different: several studies have clearly shown that people who consume artificial sugars, light soft drinks for example, have an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and the same metabolic syndrome. to those who consume foods containing real sugar(1). How to explain such a phenomenon?
The intestinal flora does not like fake sugar at all
A study published in the prestigious journal Nature revolutionizes our understanding of the effects of artificial sugars on health. Scientists have indeed shown that the addition of aspartame, saccharin or sucralose to the diet of animal models was associated with a marked increase in blood sugar levels, higher than that observed following the consumption of sugar. This surprising result would be caused by a dysregulation (dysbiosis) of the bacterial community present in the intestine by sweeteners, similar to that observed in obese and diabetic people.
This phenomenon is also observed in humans: after only four days of a diet rich in sweeteners, half of the volunteers who participated in the study showed glucose intolerance and changes in their intestinal flora. These observations therefore indicate that artificial sugars, far from reducing the damage caused by a diet high in sugar, can instead aggravate these problems by altering the function of intestinal bacteria.
Fake sugar disrupts everything
There are therefore three main reasons why “light” drinks or foods containing artificial sugars are not the solution to the problem of overweight that currently affects our society:
– Artificially sweetened foods do not change our habits of consuming sweet foods, which leads us to reject certain more bitter foods (crucifers and green tea, for example) which themselves have significant health benefits.
– Studies suggest that the brain does not like being fooled with “fake sugars” that contain no calories: in response, the appetite for other sugary foods is increased to compensate for the lack of calories from sweeteners, which leads to calorie overload.
– Artificial sugars disrupt sugar metabolism and create conditions conducive to fat accumulation.
To maintain a healthy weight, the best way remains to stay as far away as possible from industrial products, whether light or not, and to cook your own meals to better control their sugar content.
Swithers SE. Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Trends Endocrinol Me-tab. 24: 431-41.
Suez J et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature 514: 181-6.