23 April 2018

Out of the fire and into the flames?

Over the past decades, the level of consumption of artificial sugar substitutes has increased dramatically. This was facilitated by a large number of studies, most of which showed their positive effects. Nevertheless, it is too early to speak unequivocally about the harmlessness of calorie-free sweeteners.

Brian Hoffmann and his group suggested that both sugar and its artificial substitutes contribute to the development of obesity and diabetes, but through different mechanisms.

The results of the study indicate the risk of obesity and diabetes associated with taking sugar substitutes. This work is the largest study to date that tracks the biochemical changes occurring in the body against the background of taking sugar and its calorie-free substitutes. For an unbiased analysis, the principles of metabolomics were applied – a scientific approach based on the study of metabolism at the cellular level. The condition of the vascular wall was also assessed. The study was conducted in cell cultures and on rats.

The researchers divided the rats into several groups, one of which received natural carbohydrates – glucose or fructose, the other – aspartame or acesulfame (the most common calorie-free sweeteners). After three weeks, the biochemical composition of the blood was evaluated.

Artificial sugar substitutes alter fat metabolism in the body. Significant differences in the concentration of enzymes, fats and amino acids were found in the blood of rats. In vitro and in vivo experiments, potassium acesulfame accumulated in the blood and damaged the endothelium, a layer of cells lining the inner layer of the vascular wall.

The authors found that in moderate amounts, sweeteners were absorbed by the body without any harmful effects. But with their excess for a long time, the system failed, which affected fat and energy metabolism, as a result, obesity and diabetes mellitus developed.

So which is preferable: natural sugars or artificial substitutes? The authors write that they do not pretend to make an unambiguous decision, this issue requires further study. Excessive use of both in different ways leads to the same consequences.

In addition, the problem of diabetes or obesity is not solved by simply limiting the use of sweeteners or sugar. We need moderation in everything, not just in the amount of carbohydrates in the diet.

Brian Hoffmann presented the results of his work on April 22 at the Annual Congress on Experimental Biology of the American Society of Physiologists in San Diego.

Article by B. R. Hoffmann et al. The Influence of Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners on Vascular Health during the Onset and Progression of Diabetes is published in the Faseb journal.

Aminat Adzhieva, portal "Eternal Youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on EurekAlert: Why zero-calorie sweeteners can still lead to diabetes, obesity.

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