Stevia may cause gut microbial imbalance

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According to a new study by Israeli researchers, this natural sweetener could cause an intestinal microbial imbalance. The results have just been published on Molecules.

Stevia has been used for several decades in South America, Japan, and China. It is about 100 to 300 times sweeter than regular table sugar, but it contains no calories or carbohydrates.

However, an Israeli study points to an unexpected effect of stevia. According to research by scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), this natural sweetener could cause an intestinal microbial imbalance. The results have just been published in Molecules, one of the leading international peer-reviewed chemistry journals. This microbial imbalance could lead to the development of gastrointestinal health problems.

In fact, according to this study, stevia could disrupt communications between different bacteria in the gut microbiome. "Through this research, the scientific team found that it inhibits these pathways and does not kill bacteria. This is an initial study indicating that more research is needed before the food industry replaces sugar and artificial sweeteners with stevia. and its extracts. We have shown that even a natural supplement can disrupt bacterial communication, "said lead researcher Dr. Karina Golberg, BGU Avram and Stella Goldstein - Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering.

Dangerous sweeteners?

"We are not saying that it is forbidden to take stevia because it has health consequences. However, those who take stevia should bear in mind that we can actually damage the microbiome by affecting its communication system," recalls the researcher.

Previous studies conducted by Ben-Gurion University in 2018 showed that artificial sweeteners like aspartame were toxic to bacteria in the digestive system. A mechanism potentially responsible for a wide range of health problems ranging from weight gain to diabetes and even cancer. The next stage of research will be in animals, probably mice, to see if stevia exhibits the same worrisome effects seen in the laboratory.

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