Here is another reason to take good care of your digestive tract - did you know that your gut bacteria can help regulate your blood glucose levels? A small, preliminary study, out of Isreal has shown some interesting links between the consumption of diet drinks and a rise in long-term glucose blood levels in some people.
The study began as a mice study - the mice were ingesting the artificial sweeteners saccharin, aspartame and sucralose (known under the brand names Sweet-N-Low, Equal, and Splenda; respectively). The researchers were surprised to see that the mice became glucose intolerant; intrigued by the findings they began to look for a human link as well. They analyzed data from an ongoing nutrition study and found that people who considered themselves “heavy consumers” of artificial sweeteners had a slightly elevated long-term measure of blood sugar; when compared to those in the study who rarely or never consumed the sweeteners.
The researchers recruited seven volunteers, from the group who rarely or never drank diet sodas, and asked them to consume the equivalent of 10-12 packets in a one week period. 4 of the 7 showed “significant disturbances in their blood glucose even after short-term exposure to artificial sweeteners.”
What does this have to do with gut bacteria, you ask? Each of us has a living example of a micro-biome inside our bodies, made up of trillions of organisms, each with their own specific function. Some gut bacteria help regulates glucose levels in our blood stream, if this one strain of bacteria is pushed out, or “killed off” by artificial sweeteners then the result would be an increase in blood glucose levels that could be classified as “pre-diabetic” levels.
This study was small and there needs to be a larger look at the effects of artificial sweeteners on the gut. But, if you are struggling to keep down your blood sugar levels, it may be time to switch to water!