A group of experts from the Massachusetts General Hospital has discovered that aspartame might have a negative impact on consumers. The researchers have conducted an experiment on mice to establish the exact effects of this artificial sweetener.
Aspartame has been hotly debated over the past few years because public health experts believe it might be dangerous. This substance has become widely used in diet sodas, especially Coca-Cola, although little is known about it.
During the study, the mice drank water containing aspartame for 18 weeks. Based on the findings, the researchers established that this artificial sweetener blocked an important gut enzyme, thus increasing the risk of weight gain and diabetes in mice.
The rodents’ blood sugar levels were higher than the ones from the group which drank plain water. A high blood sugar level is a marker of glucose intolerance. Also, the scientists discovered that the mice had a higher level of TNF-alpha in their blood stream.
TNF-alpha is an inflammatory protein and a major factor influencing the development of metabolic syndrome. According to Richard Hodin, a professor of surgery at the Harvard Medical School and the lead author, the enzyme blocked by aspartame is called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP), and it has the role of preventing diabetes and obesity.
The weight problems in mice occurred when the IAP was no longer able to do its job. However, it is not the first time when an experiment points towards the fact that aspartame is a dangerous ingredient.
Previous studies have shown that this artificial sweetener might be related to weight gain, although it is supposed to have a beneficial effect. Hodin further adds that aspartame is not the only potentially harmful ingredient used in diet sodas as there are other sugar substitutes which facilitate weight gain in consumers.
It is worth mentioning that some experts believe that these artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, increase appetite. Also, it is not known yet why many of them don’t work. Hodin’s study is the first of its kind to prove a cause-and-effect link between this sugar substitute and weight gain.
The researchers explained that IAP is vital because it prevents our gut microbes from altering. Besides sodas, aspartame is found in many food products too. Because public health experts have become concerned about the effects of this artificial sweetener, some manufacturers started advertising their products as aspartame-free.
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