New ex-vivo study on low and no calorie sweeteners finds positive or no impact on human gut microbiota  

Tate & Lyle and Cryptobiotix’s ex-vivo* study has shown that sucralose does not impact the gut microbiota, while other low and no calorie sweeteners have potentially beneficial health effects

A new study conducted by Tate & Lyle and Cryptobiotix has identified potentially beneficial interactions between certain low and no calorie sweeteners, including stevia, and the human gut microbiota.

Dr. Davide Risso, molecular biology specialist and Tate & Lyle’s head of nutrition research, led the project to explore the potential impact of certain low and no calorie sweeteners on the gut environment in both healthy individuals and those with type 2 diabetes. The research involved taking samples from co-living adults consuming a similar diet – to lower the potential variation introduced by differences in long-term diet, a major driver of microbiota composition. The doses of low and no calorie sweeteners used were based on actual intakes, regulations and amounts that are generally included in foods and beverages during different timepoints. 

Results from the pre-clinical study, published in the peer reviewed, open-access journal the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, found that some of the studied low calorie and no calorie sweeteners had no impact on the gut microbiota, while others had potential beneficial health effects. 

Using Cryptobiotix’s SIFR technology to recreate the gut environment outside of the human body, the research partners found that sweeteners, such as sucralose, do not impact the microbial composition of the gut. Furthermore, other sweeteners, including stevia, have a beneficial impact on the gut microbiota as they were found to be easily fermented and increase the density of certain health-supporting bacteria, with the production of short-chain fatty acids.  

The study adds to the strong scientific evidence demonstrating the beneficial role that low and no calorie sweeteners can play when used as a part of a balanced diet. Assessments of additional low and no calorie sweeteners, including allulose and erythritol, are being completed and details will be shared in due course. 

Dr Risso said:  “In this study, the low and no calorie sweeteners we have assessed are shown to have either no impact on the gut microbiota or to offer potential health benefits beyond their established sugar and calorie reduction benefits. Human clinical trials will be required to confirm the potential health benefits. At Tate & Lyle, we’re committed to advancing understanding around the role of low and no calorie sweeteners in the diet and sharing knowledge in this emerging field as a purpose-led, science-driven company.” 

Dr Pieter Van den Abbeele, Cryptobiotix’s chief scientific officer, said: “Cryptobiotix was founded with the ambition of providing accurate insights into the impact and behaviour of ingredients in relation to the gut microbiome. This study provides much-needed evidence to consider the potential benefits of sweeteners individually, rather than as a uniform whole. The robustness and validation work that went into the SIFR technology used, allowed us to pinpoint specific health-promoting pathways in relation to specific low and no calorie sweeteners.” 

*In ex vivo studies, living tissues are directly taken from a living organism and studied in a laboratory with minimal alterations to the organism’s natural conditions.