Photo: Rahul Ravi via Flickr
If you’re someone who moved away from sugar in recent years, chances are you’ve given artificial sweeteners a try. You’ve also probably read how different types of artificial sweeteners aren’t exactly as healthy as they were promoted to be. But a new study on saccharin may change your mind.
While sugar substitutes were said to be healthier alternatives to reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, too much of anything (in this case, artificial sweeteners) can potentially increase the risk of developing these conditions, according to past research.
A study from Yale found that when people consume sucralose — found in Splenda — regularly, they could develop “problematic metabolic and neutral responses.”
Sucralose is found in many diet and low-calorie soft drinks, candy bars, and other food products, while Splenda is commonly used by people to sweeten their coffee.
Researchers at the American Physiological Society in 2018 said that common artificial sweeteners can alter the way a body processes fat and energy, which can lead to diabetes and obesity.
“We observed that in moderation, your body has the machinery to handle sugar; it is when the system is overloaded over a long period of time that this machinery breaks down,” a researcher said at the time. “We also observed that replacing these sugars with non-caloric artificial sweeteners leads to negative changes in fat and energy metabolism.”
Fortunately, there are many artificial sweeteners to try and perhaps not all of them are too terrible for you, like saccharin, which doesn’t lead to any type of development of diabetes, according to a new study.
New research published in the journal Microbiome found that saccharin — or Sweet’N Low — doesn’t contribute to the development of diabetes in healthy adults.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Ohio State University, debunked previous research that said saccharin did in fact lead to the development of diabetes, but researchers said those findings didn’t account for “health conditions, diet choices and lifestyle habits.”
By studying the artificial sweetener saccharin in healthy adults, we’ve isolated its effects and found no change in participants’ gut microbiome or their metabolic profiles, as it was previously suggested,” George Kyriazis, assistant professor at Ohio State and senior author of the study said in a statement.
Saccharin is one of six artificial sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They are:
- Saccharin (Sweet and Low, Sweet Twin), Sweet’N Low)
- Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal)
- Ace-K (Sunnett, Sweet One)
- Sucralose (Splenda)
- Neotame (Newtame)
Back to the study: a total of 46 healthy participants with body mass indexes of 25 or less were in this experiment, which consisted of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled test. Each participant took a capsule with either saccharin, lactisole, saccharin with lactisole, or a placebo for two weeks daily. Mice were also tested for 10 weeks, which is where researchers found that artificial sweetener didn’t affect glucose tolerance, or cause gut microbiota changes.
“Sugar, on the other hand, is well-documented to contribute to obesity, heart disease and diabetes,” Kyriazis said. “So when given the choice, artificial sweeteners such as saccharin are the clear winner based on all of the scientific information we currently have.”