Common sweetener which is ‘relatively new’ can damage the gut

A sweetener used in drinks, sauces, savoury and sweet foods and chewing gum can cause serious damage to people’s health, according to a new study.
Neotame, a “relatively new” sweetener, could damage the intestine by causing damage to healthy bacteria in the gut, according to the study, leading it to become diseased and attack the gut wall.

The study by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, found the negative effect of neotame “has the potential to influence a range of gut functions resulting in poor gut health,” potentially impacting metabolic and inflammatory diseases, neuropathic pain, and neurological conditions.
The illnesses this could lead to include irritable bowel disease or insulin resistance.
The effects of artificial sweeteners have been scrutinised in recent years, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommending people avoid using them for weight control last year and a sweetener commonly found in diet drinks declared a potential cancer risk.

But newer sweeteners on the market like neotame are known to be 1,000 times sweeter than sugar, meaning less quantity has to be added to the drinks, and the study’s authors say there is surprisingly little research into their effects.
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Dr Havovi Chichger, associate professor in Biomedical Science at ARU and senior author of the study, said: “There is now growing awareness of the health impacts of sweeteners such as saccharin, sucralose and aspartame, with our own previous work demonstrating the problems they can cause to the wall of the intestine and the damage to the ‘good bacteria’ which form in our gut.
“This can lead to a range of potential health issues including diarrhoea, intestinal inflammation, and even infections such as septicaemia if the bacteria were to enter the blood stream.


“Therefore, it is important to also study sweeteners that have been introduced more recently and our new research demonstrates that neotame causes similar problems, including gut bacteria becoming diseased.
“Understanding the impact of these pathogenic changes occurring in the gut microbiota is vital. Our findings also demonstrate the need to better understand common food additives more widely and the molecular mechanisms underlying potential negative health impacts.”
Last year, aspartame, another sweetener commonly found in diet drinks and chewing gum, was declared a potential cancer risk by the WHO.
The sweetener is now listed as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the WHO’s cancer research arm, said there was “limited evidence” aspartame caused cancer in humans.
However, the sweetener was classified as 2B, “possibly carcinogenic”, on the basis of limited evidence for cancer in humans.

Source : Sky News