A new low-calorie sweetener claims to be as sweet as white sugar, and even helps to support healthy microbes. The creation should be welcome news to gut health enthusiasts who aim to cut back on sugar and other gut-churning alternatives.
For years, sugar has been a hot topic in the health world for a multitude of reasons. In particular, experts often warn about it being found in just about everything on the shelves. It’s no secret it’s found in soda, candy, and pastries, but it also can hide in less obvious products like tomato sauce and breads.
Widely known is that consuming refined table sugar or artificial sweeteners in excess can lead to chronic health complications. Low or no-calorie artificial sweeteners have since become incredibly popular because it allows for a sweet fix without the excess calories. While the evidence remains inconclusive, sweeteners like these have been shown to harm the gut environment and lead to undesirable health outcomes like heightened appetite and weight gain.
This new artificial sweetener was developed by a team of researchers from the Institute of Food Science Research and the Institute of Physical Chemistry in Madrid, along with scientists at the University of Reading in England. The team conducted the work by utilizing lactose and mogroside V, which is derived from and responsible for sweetness in the luo han guo fruit. When β-galactosidase enzymes were added, the researchers obtained a mixture that contained mostly galactooligosaccharides and a small amount of altered mogrosides. It was found from a sensory panel that this new mixture was just as sweet as table sugar, which is a good indicator of how it might do on the market.
In test tube experiments, the new sweetener increased the amount of several supportive microbes, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus bacterial species, which are very popular in yogurt. The findings also suggest that the product may also act as a fibrous prebiotic, further supporting the microbial environment in the gut.
Researchers say that this artificial sweetener may be groundbreaking for consumers and healthcare at large. The study shows overwhelmingly positive results regarding taste and efficacy. Further research is recommended to see its effect on blood sugar and metabolic health overall, but the team’s next step is to specifically examine the mixture’s impact on gut health across different circumstances and demographics.
Conditions that several million Americans suffer from, like diabetes, can be traced back to excessive sugar and processed food intake. A new “sugar” on the market may help change the trajectory of prevention, diagnosis, and intervention measures. For many, going cold turkey and quitting consumption of sugar as a whole is a task that leads them into a never-ending, unsustainable cycle of eating a lot of it and then stopping, and then over again. It is this team’s hope that their findings can begin to change these outcomes.
This study is published in the journal Agricultural and Food Chemistry.