New study supports belief that artificial sweeteners worsen Crohn's disease

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

A new study has provided more evidence that artificial sweeteners intensify gut inflammation for people with Crohn's disease.

The six-week study from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that the artificial sweetener sucralose - known by the brand name Splenda - worsened gut inflammation in mice with Crohn's-like disease.

“Splenda worsened gut inflammation in mice with Crohn's-like disease.“

However, those without the condition demonstrated no substantive effect when subjected to the artificial sweetener.

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease of the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, bloody stools, weight loss and fatigue. Between ten to 15 per cent of human patients say that sweeteners worsen their disease.

It is inferred that the increased presence of E. coli intensifies the activity of myeloperoxidase - an enzyme in white blood cells that kills various microorganisms - in the bowel as the body sought to fight off the invader.

Therefore, consuming Splenda may increase myeloperoxidase production in individuals with a pro-inflammatory predisposition, such as Crohn's disease or other forms of inflammatory bowel disease patients.

Alex Rodriguez-Palacios, assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and the study's lead author, said patients with Crohn's disease should think carefully about consuming Splenda or similar products containing sucralose and maltodextrin.

"This is perhaps the closest we can get to provide experimental evidence that these ingredients together induce biological changes known to cause inflammation which could be harmful over time to susceptible animal subjects,” he commented.

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