Sweeteners are dangerous to your gut bacteria, link to glucose intolerance and may well make you fat

Sweeteners are dangerous to your gut bacteria, link to glucose intolerance and may well make you fat

2014 research in Nature1 showed clearly that using artificial sweeteners doesn’t fool your gut bacteria.

Feed them badly, and they will cause all sorts of illnesses from chronic inflammation to diabetes, cancer and Crohn’s disease.

To put this in context, as I explain in my book ‘The Secret Source of Your Good Health’ you have about 90 trillion gut bacteria of about 800 different types. Compare that to the just 7 trillion cells in your own body and you will quickly realise they outnumber you 13 to one; worse, they have about three times as many genes as you do. So, be careful. You need to treat them well, because they control your DNA and your life.

The research found that the use of artificial sweeteners enhanced the risk of glucose intolerance in both mice and humans by altering the composition and behavior of the microbiome. In particular, there was an over-representation of Bacteroides and an under-representation of Clostridiales, after ingestion of artificial sweeteners. This change in the bacterial mix has previously been found in people with type-2 diabetes and obesity. In other studiesthis bacterial change was linked to Crohn’s. 

Thus the idea that somehow artificial sweeteners in diet drinks is better for diabetics than normal fizzy soft drink may well be false.

Worse, the fact that artificial sweeteners seem linked with glucose intolerance, increases their links to  diabetes and even obesity. It seems obesity is increasingly linked to chemical interference with food metabolism, and is not simply a case of eating more makes you fat. Ironically, diet drinks may well make you fat!


1.  Ref J. Suez, T. Korem, D. Zeevi, et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota; Nature (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature1379

2.  Ref C. Juste, D.P. Kreil, C. Beauvallet, et al. Bacterial protein signals are associated with Crohn's disease; Gut, 63 (2014), pp. 1566–1577