Our Microbiome: Whose side are they on? | Health | The Daily News – Galveston County Daily News

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Updated: January 5, 2023 @ 1:39 am
January 5, 2023
Norbert Herzog
and David Niesel

Norbert Herzog
and David Niesel
The human microbiome is a wonderous thing. These are the microbes that live in and on our bodies. We each have somewhere between 10 and 100 trillion microbes with us. They outnumber the cells that make up our bodies. Many of these microbes are bacteria that inhabit our intestinal tracts or gut. Most are symbiotic, which means that they work together with our cells for our benefit. Others are potentially harmful but are kept in check by other microbes. Research has repeatedly shown the important role the human microbiome has in maintaining our health and, when out of balance, in triggering disease.
The microbiome has been shown to play a role in many diseases like depression, autism spectrum disorders, some cancers and in the process of human development. We are constantly uncovering new information about how the microbiome works. Recent research has shed some light on the effect of artificial sweeteners.
A microbiome study almost ten years ago used mice to look at the role of artificial sweeteners in obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Those researchers found that artificial sweeteners could lead to obesity and alter the glucose metabolism, which is important in diabetes.
Of course, this was controversial and it tarnished many food products that were generating large profits. A major objection to the results was that a mouse is not a human. While mice represent one of the most useful models we have for human disease, results from mice and humans are not always the same.
In this latest work, Israeli scientists evaluated the artificial sweeteners saccharin, sucralose, stevia and aspartame to find out how they impact the human microbiome. The difference is that this time they used humans in the study. They recruited research subjects who did not use artificial sweeteners and placed them into different groups. Groups would consume six packets of one of the sweeteners each day for two weeks. The study included two control groups: one received an equivalent amount of glucose, and the other consumed no added sugar or sweetener for the same period.
Subjects who consumed the sweeteners had significant changes in their oral and gut microbiome, especially those that consumed saccharin and sucralose. Those taking the glucose or no sugar did not show changes in their microbiome. There were also changes in blood glucose levels for those that consumed saccharin and sucralose. These changes put them above those consuming glucose, suggesting these sweeteners may make it harder for the body to absorb glucose from the blood. None of these changes happened in the people that consumed aspartame or stevia.
Researchers then took samples of the microbiome of those consuming sweeteners and introduced them into the guts of mice. Those mice showed altered glycemic responses and inability to regulate their blood glucose levels.
The next round of research will identify which microbes in the gut are causing these effects and could point to new ways to control blood glucose levels and control diabetes. In the future, we may choose foods based on our personal microbiome.
Medical Discovery News is a weekly radio and print broadcast highlighting medical and scientific breakthroughs hosted by professor emeritus, Norbert Herzog, and professor, David Niesel, biomedical scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Learn more at www.medicaldiscoverynews.com

Norbert Herzog
and David Niesel
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