Non-nutritive sweeteners have long been thought to not elicit any glycaemic response or negative activity in the gut microbiome.
This randomized-controlled trial published in September 2022 explored the effects of non-nutritive sweeteners in 120 healthy adults over two weeks. The trial specifically studied the effects of aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and stevia on both glycemic control and microbiome activity.
Both saccharin and sucralose were found to significantly elevate glycemic response, indicating that short-term consumption of sucralose and saccharin in doses lower than the acceptable daily intake (ADI) can impact glycemic responses in healthy individuals. These same two non-nutritive sweeteners significantly impacted microbiome composition and all four had a significant effect on microbiome function, through several proposed pathways regarding biosynthesis, degradation and metabolism.
Although these findings are of interest, further research is needed to investigate the effects of non-nutritive sweeteners among individuals with cardiometabolic diseases and other health conditions. Longer exposure periods are also required to understand long-term effects. This will allow for more robust assessment and understanding of the clinical implications of non-nutritive sweeteners.