You may have noticed that the exact same diet could have different effects on different people. Maybe you and your friend have once tried being on the same meal plan, only to find that the diet worked better for your friend that for you. The reason for this may be partly explained by the effect of our gut microbiome on our metabolism and physiology. Our gut contains trillions of microbial cells that perform numerous activities in the body. They affect and are affected by every single bite of food we consume. Let’s take a closer look at how this works in relation to sugar.
What Happens What Sugar Is Present In Our Gut?
Sugar is without a doubt an essential source of energy for the human body. However, it is more commonly seen in a negative light, rather than being seen as a necessary fuel, because the unregulated consumption of sweet products has led to increased numbers of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus around the world.
Sugar also affects not only our overall health, but also the health of the gut microbiome. Negative effects of sugar on the gut microbiome can also lead to serious gut diseases and even cancers, both gut-related and cancers in other organs.
High amounts of sugar in the colon is often associated with the lowering of the population of the beneficial gut microbes that aid in digestion. Furthermore, the high amount of sugar not only destroys the good gut microbes but can also encourage the growth of the bad.
So, What About Artificial Sweeteners Then?
Now, you may think that avoiding sugar by using artificial sweeteners is the way to go in order to preserve and avoid doing harm towards the gut microbes. However, you might want to rethink that conclusion. There have been quite a number of studies that show the harmfulness of artificial sweeteners. Many studies have been conclusive about their links to serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hyperactive disorder.
However, among the many adverse effects that artificial sweeteners can have on the body, the destructive effect on the gut microbiome may be the worst. You see, artificial sweeteners like Splenda make it a point to advertise that these sugar substitutes give the similar sweet taste of sugar but with just a fraction of the calories. The companies behind artificial sweeteners tell consumers that these pseudo-sugars are hardly digested and absorbed by the body and as such are very easily eliminated without the associated weight gain.
What they don’t mention though, is that because the sweetener doesn’t get absorbed in the body through the small intestines, it makes its way towards the large intestines where most of the gut microbiome is found. The imbalance in the microbiome caused by this leads to chronic illness including type 2 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.
And, Vice Versa, The Gut Microbiome Affects Sugar Metabolism, Too.
The gut microbiome can also affect sugars as much as sugars affect them. The diversity of the gut microbiome is the key determinant in the prevention of metabolic diseases. A specific species of bacteria, Prevotella, for example, has been found to help in glucose metabolism in humans and aids in control of blood sugar levels. This kind of bacteria is found in fibre-rich foods. This is one of the reasons why probiotic-rich foods should be incorporated in a diabetic diet.
Maintaining blood sugar balance in the body may have proven to be very frustrating and difficult for a lot of diabetic patients in the past. But, with recent discoveries about gut flora and their major role in metabolism, diabetics can now come up with better strategies to battle their disease. By adopting a healthier diet, one that promotes the diversity of the gut microbiota, there is no doubt that blood sugar levels will be easier to control even without aggressive medication regimens.