This natural sweetener could cause intestinal microbial imbalance, according to a new study by Israeli researchers. The results have just been published in Molecules.

An alternative to sugar, sweeteners provide a sweet taste while remaining low in calories. In France, stevia gained popularity late because it was authorized for consumption by the decree of August 26, 2009, but it has been used in South America, Japan and China for several decades. It is about 100 to 300 times sweeter than regular table sugar, but contains no calories or carbohydrates.

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

Indeed, according to this study, stevia could disrupt communications between different bacteria in the intestinal microbiome. "Through this research, the science team found that it inhibits these pathways and does not kill bacteria. This is a first study that indicates that more research is needed before industry Food does not replace sugar and artificial sweeteners with stevia and its extracts. We have shown that even a natural supplement can actually 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 you are prohibited from taking stevia because there is a health implication. However, [those] who take stevia must take into account that we can actually harm 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 conducted in animals, most likely mice, to see if stevia exhibits the same worrying effects seen in the lab. Market analyst Emergen Research assures us that the global stevia market is expected to reach nearly $ 1.2 billion by 2027.