April 21, 2024

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Commonly used artificial sweeteners may suppress the immune system

Commonly used artificial sweeteners may suppress the immune system


Commonly used artificial sweeteners may suppress the immune system.

Is zero sugar unhealthy? Nature’s latest research: commonly used artificial sweeteners may suppress the immune system.

With economic development and improvement of living standards, obesity has become a major public health problem worldwide .

According to the statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO) , nearly 2 billion people in the world are overweight or obese. From 1975 to 2016, the global obesity rate has nearly tripled, and the annual death rate due to overweight or obesity is as high as 2.8 million.


The rapid increase in obesity rates worldwide is largely due to the influence of life factors such as high-sugar diets.

In order to reduce the impact of sugar on health and obesity, more and more people begin to use artificial sweeteners instead of normal sugars ( sugar substitutes) , these artificial sweeteners have the sweet taste of sugars but are generally not converted by the body and therefore are non-caloric.

It is considered a healthy dietary addition and has been widely used in foods and beverages to reduce sugar and calorie intake.

Sucralose , a common sugar substitute in many foods, has no calories and is 600 times sweeter than sucrose. Sucralose is generally considered safe, but concerns have been raised about the long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners, including sucralose.


On March 15, 2023, researchers from the Francis Crick Institute in the UK published a research paper entitled: The dietary sweetener sucralose is a negative modulator of T cell-mediated responses in the journal Nature .

The study found that high doses of the artificial sweetener sucralose reduced the immune response in mice .

These findings provide no evidence that normal doses of sucralose intake may be immunosuppressive.

But the study highlights an unexpected effect of high doses of sucralose on immune responses and function in mice .

The research team believes that the effects of sucralose on T cells in the immune system may be reversible, which means that we may use sucralose in the future to treat autoimmune diseases caused by overactive T cells.



To investigate the effects of excess sucralose consumption, the research team gave mice high doses of sucralose.

This dose is higher than the intake of sucralose in the normal human diet and close to the maximum daily intake of this sweetener (15mg/Kg for the European Food Safety Authority and 5mg/Kg for the US Food and Drug Administration ) .

The mice showed reduced levels of T cell proliferation and differentiation , suggesting a modulated immune system.

Sucralose was found to affect the cell membranes of T cells, reducing their ability to signal effectively. Mice fed sucralose also showed variable decreases in functional T cell responses in infection, tumor, and immune models.

These findings suggest that high doses of sucralose alter the immune response in mice .


Sucralose treatment limits T cell-specific responses in vivo


Overall, this study shows that high intake of the common artificial sweetener sucralose reduces T cell activity in mice , and more research is needed to determine whether the effects of sucralose in mice can be replicated in humans reproduce.


The research team said that the effect of sucralose on T cells in mice appears to be reversible. If this is the case in humans, then we can use sucralose to improve autoimmune diseases caused by overactive T cells.


On February 27, 2023, researchers from the Cleveland Medical Center in the United States published a research paper entitled: The artificial sweetener erythritol and cardiovascular event risk in the top international medical journal Nature Medicine.

The study suggests that the commonly used artificial sweetener erythritol may be linked to heart disease events.


Commonly used artificial sweeteners may suppress the immune system



Erythritol is a natural substance, also found in small amounts in some vegetables and fruits, that is difficult for our bodies to metabolize and is used as an artificial sweetener because of its sweet taste.

In recent years, some popular zero-sugar, zero-fat and zero-calorie drinks are actually a large amount of erythritol added.

Artificial sweeteners such as erythritol are also generally considered safe by regulators and are often recommended as a sugar substitute for people with metabolic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease , but few studies have investigated their long-term health effects .

Do these artificial sweeteners have any effect on the human body? Are they really healthy?


The research team conducted a preliminary study in 1157 people who had been assessed for heart disease risk and had 3-year outcome data.

By analyzing the chemicals in the blood, the research team observed that levels of several compounds that appeared to be artificial sweeteners , notably erythritol , were associated with increased risk of future heart disease and stroke during the three-year follow-up.


Commonly used artificial sweeteners may suppress the immune system



This association was confirmed in independent array studies that performed selective cardiac assessments in the US (n = 2149) and Europe (n = 833) .


Commonly used artificial sweeteners may suppress the immune system


The research team further found that erythritol in whole blood or platelets led to accelerated thrombus formation , which was confirmed in animal model studies.


Commonly used artificial sweeteners may suppress the immune system
Erythritol promotes blood clot formation in the body



The research team also conducted a prospective intervention study in 8 healthy volunteers.

After the volunteers ingested 30 grams of erythritol beverage, their plasma levels were tested, and it was found that the erythritol levels of all volunteers continued to increase, exceeding the threshold of increased risk of blood clotting within 2-3 days.


The research team believes that this study may show that increased levels of erythritol are associated with an increased risk of blood clots .

They note, however, that because of the high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in the array they studied, it remains to be confirmed whether similar results are observed in longer-term follow-up of apparently healthy subjects.


It is worth mentioning that a recent study showed that artificial sweeteners (such as saccharin , sucralose ) can significantly affect the human intestinal flora , thereby changing the human blood sugar level.


In August 2022, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science published a research paper entitled: Personalized microbiome-driven effects of non-nutritive sweeteners on human glucose tolerance in the top international academic journal Cell .


The study confirms that artificial sweeteners , long considered healthy and widely used, are not inert in the human body and can significantly affect the human gut microbiota, thereby altering blood sugar levels in the human body.




As early as 2014, Eran Elinav ‘s team at the Weizmann Institute of Science discovered that artificial sweeteners affect the gut microbiome of mice, thereby affecting their blood sugar response.

And this time, they went a step further to explore the effects of artificial sweeteners on humans.


The research team carefully screened more than 1,300 people who strictly avoid artificial sweeteners in their daily lives, and identified 120 people to participate in follow-up experiments.

The participants were divided into six groups: two control groups and four experimental groups consuming saccharin , sucralose , stevia and aspartame , these intakes are below the daily intake allowed by the FDA.

The two groups of control groups received the same amount of glucose or no additional intake.


The results showed that among the participants who consumed artificial sweeteners, significant changes in the composition and function of their gut microbes, as well as molecules secreted into the peripheral blood, could be readily observed.

This seems to indicate that the gut microbes in humans are quite sensitive to each of these sweeteners.

Of these artificial sweeteners, saccharin and sucralose more significantly affected glucose tolerance in healthy adults .

Moreover, changes in the gut microbiome were highly correlated with changes in people’s blood sugar response.


These studies suggest that artificial sweeteners are not as safe as we previously thought, and further research is needed to evaluate the long-term safety of artificial sweeteners.







Paper link :
1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-05801-6
2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-023-02223-9
3. https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(22)00919-9

Commonly used artificial sweeteners may suppress the immune system

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