Ex-vivo study on low calorie sweeteners finds positive or no impact on human gut microbiota

Published: 6-Feb-2024

The study identified unique and potentially beneficial interactions between certain low and no calorie sweeteners —including stevia — and the human gut microbiota

Tate & Lyle PLC, a global company specialising in ingredient solutions for healthier food and drink, partnered with Cryptobiotix, pioneers in preclinical gastrointestinal research, on the study. 

The project explored the potential impact of certain low and no calorie sweeteners on the gut environment in both healthy individuals and those with type 2 diabetes. 

The research involved taking samples from co-living adults consuming a similar diet – to lower the potential variation introduced by differences in long-term diet, a major driver of microbiota composition. 

The doses of low and no calorie sweeteners used were based on actual intakes, regulations and amounts that are generally included in foods and beverages during different timepoints. 

Results from the pre-clinical study, published in the leading peer reviewed, open-access journal the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, found that some of the studied low calorie and no calorie sweeteners had no impact on the gut microbiota, while others had potential beneficial health effects. 

Using Cryptobiotix’s cutting-edge SIFR technology to recreate the gut environment outside of the human body, the research partners found that sweeteners, such as sucralose, do not impact the microbial composition of the gut. 

Furthermore, other sweeteners, including stevia, have a beneficial impact on the gut microbiota as they were found to be easily fermented and increase the density of certain health-supporting bacteria, with the production of short-chain fatty acids.  

The study adds to the strong scientific evidence demonstrating the beneficial role low and no calorie sweeteners can play when used as a part of a balanced diet.

Assessments of additional low and no calorie sweeteners, including allulose and erythritol, are being completed and details will be shared in due course. 

Dr Pieter Van den Abbeele, Cryptobiotix’s Chief Scientific Officer, said:  "Cryptobiotix was founded with the ambition of providing accurate insights into the impact and behaviour of ingredients in relation to the gut microbiome. This study provides evidence to consider the potential benefits of sweeteners individually, rather than as a uniform whole. The robustness and validation work that went into the SIFR technology used, allowed us to pinpoint specific health-promoting pathways in relation to specific low and no calorie sweeteners." 


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