Nutritional Sweeteners Affect the Gut Biome
By Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, CNPT, ATC/L, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Cert-DN
Artificial sweeteners: good, bad, or simply not understood? For years they were touted to be the pinnacle replacement of the calorie-rich and nutrient poor table sugar. Things seemed too sweet to be true, when some artificial sweeteners, often called non-nutritional sweeteners, were linked with cancer. Fortunately science and common sense prevailed showing no risk of cancer to humans; however, researchers have been tracking some intriguing findings of what artificial sweeteners may do to the gut.
A recent study published in the journal Cell showed that non nutritional sweeteners, like saccharin and sucralose, alter the gut microbiome. We have known for years that there may be some interaction with the gut microbiome, we're just not sure to what extent. With this current publication, clinicians can have a better understanding of how much and which sweeteners affect the gum microbiome the most.
Ultimately, what this means for physical therapy practice is that we should be more aware of gut microbiome changes with patients that have used large doses of non-nutritional sweeteners, or those that have chronically used them. What clinical manifestations may present with chronic use of such sweeteners? It still remains to be seen. However, physical therapists should be vigilant and look out for patients with gut issues that have used such non nutritional sweeteners for years or in large doses.
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Keywords: nutrition, diet, continuing education, artificial sweeteners, gut biome, microbiome, PT, physical therapy, learning, gut health, rehab, DPT