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Ditch the Diet Coke: Six Artificial Sweeteners Used in a Range of Soft Drinks and Foods Are TOXIC to Gut Bacteria

One more time: Scientific evidence shows that artificial sweeteners can damage your health. In a recent study, researchers analyzed sweeteners approved for consumption in the food and drink industry, and found six of them are toxic to your gut microbes. They include aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame and acesulfame potassium-k and, according to the Daily Mail, it took only 1 mg/ml of any of the sweeteners to turn the bacteria toxic.

The evidence against artificial sweeteners — which are nothing but chemical concoctions created to fool your taste buds into “tasting” something sweet — is growing by the day. Many are aware that aspartame isn’t good for you, but did you know that the go-to sweetener that so many people are now using, sucralose, comes with its own set of problems?

While the artificial sweetener industry steadfastly defends the safety of sucralose (brand name Splenda), recent research reveals that sucralose is indeed metabolized, and in fact accumulates in your fat cells. This is due to two new metabolites researchers found in sucralose that weren’t previously identified. Other recent research found that sucralose causes definite changes in the liver of rats, suggesting toxic effects, leading researchers to warn people to use this sweetener with caution to avoid liver damage.

And, as the featured article found, still other research found that sucralose affects your gut bacteria, reducing it by 50 percent, and preferentially targeting the very beneficial bacteria you want in your gut.

The bottom line is sucralose has never been proven safe: The FDA claims they reviewed over 100 studies conducted on Splenda. What they don't tell you is that a) only six of these studies were human trials — and only two of them were published before the FDA approved sucralose for human consumption — and b) the remaining animal studies actually revealed potential health problems.

If you’re looking for healthier sugar substitutes, two of the best ones I know of come from the plant kingdom: Stevia and Lo Han Kuo (also spelled Luo Han Guo). Stevia, a highly sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant, is sold as a supplement. It's completely safe in its natural form and can be used to sweeten most dishes and drinks.

Lo Han Kuo is similar to Stevia, but it's a bit more expensive and harder to find. In China, the Lo Han fruit has been used as a sweetener for centuries, and it's about 200 times sweeter than sugar. A third alternative is to use pure glucose, also known as dextrose.

Dextrose is only 70 percent as sweet as sucrose, so you'll end up using a bit more of it for the same amount of sweetness, making it slightly more expensive than regular sugar. Still, it's well worth it for your health as it does not contain any fructose whatsoever.

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