A preliminary study conducted in mice and human subjects and published in the Nature journal suggests that the use of artificial sweeteners appears to cause higher blood sugar levels —glucose intolerance— a condition which can eventually lead to diabetes.
Using mostly mice as test subjects, researchers tested the effects of three widely used sweeteners: saccharin (Sweet ‘n Low), sucralose (Splenda), and aspartame (NutraSweet) on 20 mice.
Compared to mice who had been given sugar and water, or water alone, the artificial sweetener subjects showed significantly higher levels of blood glucose. Both groups also showed a change in composition of gut bacteria, which research suggests may contribute to metabolic conditions like obesity and diabetes.
A similar subject was then conducted in human subjects who were asked to consume products high in artificial sweeteners, who also experienced higher blood glucose levels.
The study’s lead author, Eran Elinav, an immunologist at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, cautions that although the preliminary research suggests a connection, it’s too early to make concrete conclusions without more dedicated research.
"The scope of our discovery is cause for a public reassessment of the massive and unsupervised use of artificial sweeteners," Elinav told The Wall Street Journal.
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.