Sugar vs Artificial vs Natural Sweeteners: How Do They Affect Your Gut Health?

Sugar vs Artificial vs Natural Sweeteners: How Do They Affect Your Gut Health?

Most people use sweeteners regularly, whether to sweeten a nice cup of hot tea or to blend up the perfect smoothie.

However, with so many different options out there, it can be hard to choose the healthiest one for your gut health. Sugar, artificial, or natural sweeteners–which is the best for gut health? 

Natural sweeteners are the best for gut health as they have some antibacterial and prebiotic properties without the negative health risks of sugar and artificial sweeteners. Both sugar and artificial sweeteners pose serious risks to your gut health and should be used sparingly.

This article will explore how each of the three impacts your gut. Keep reading to make a more informed decision on what type of sweetener to use to maximize your gut health.

How Sugar Affects Your Gut

You probably already know that consuming too much sugar is bad for your health. From high blood pressure to weight gain and potentially even diabetes, sugar is not something you want in your diet. However, how does sugar affect your gut specifically?

Here are some of the impacts of sugar on your gut:

  • Sugar causes inflammation. Diets high in sugar have been found to increase internal inflammation, which hinders digestive function and has a negative impact on the gut microbiome.
  • Sugar targets key proteins for gut health. A Yale University study found that sugar consumption targets and blocks the production of Roc, a key protein for a healthy gut microbiome. 
  • Sugar can increase bad bacteria. Consumption of refined sugar can lead to the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut, which may lead to dysbiosis. 

As you can see, sugar consumption can severely affect your gut microbiome. So, are artificial sweeteners a suitable replacement for sugar in terms of gut health? Let’s explore that next.

How Artificial Sweeteners Affect Your Gut

Artificial sweeteners became popular substitutes for sugar. They were believed to have all the benefits of sugar without the calories and–therefore–the negative health impacts. However, recent research has shown that artificial sweeteners can lead to serious health conditions like cancer, brain tumours, and more. So, when it comes to gut health, how do artificial sweeteners fare?

Here are some of the impacts of artificial sweeteners on your gut:

  • Turn healthy bacteria into pathogenic bacteria. A UK study found that artificial sweeteners can turn beneficial gut bacteria into harmful bacteria, which may lead to dysbiosis. 
  • Increase inflammation. Studies have shown that regular consumption of artificial sweeteners can increase internal inflammation. This will have a negative impact on your gut health and can lead to gut dysbiosis. 
  • Could lead to leaky gut syndrome. A recent study found that artificial sweetener consumption could increase intestinal permeability and eventually lead to leaky gut syndrome.   

So, although artificial sweeteners may add some sweetness to your food or drink without the calories, they do not do so without risk. So, are natural sweeteners any better?

How Natural Sweeteners Affect Your Gut

Natural sweeteners are by far the most popular choice among health-conscious consumers. However, even the healthfulness of fruits like pineapple and mangoes has been put into question by the most fiercely health-conscious individuals. This is due to their high levels of glucose, which some claim can be just as harmful as consuming regular sugar. 

However, all-natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup do not carry the same health risks as sugar or even artificial sweeteners. In fact, studies have found many positive health impacts from these natural sweeteners. 

Some of the best health impacts from natural sweeteners are:

  • Honey may be a prebiotic. Honey contains oligosaccharides, which are potentially prebiotic components. As you know, prebiotics promote a balanced microbiome by keeping your gut flora well-fed and healthy. 
  • Honey is an antibacterial. Honey is an all-natural antibacterial that can help kill off pathogenic bacteria and combat dysbiosis. 
  • Inulin is a prebiotic. Many fruits and sweeteners like maple syrup contain inulin, which is a type of prebiotic that can help your gut bacteria flourish. 
  • Stave off mycotoxins. Natural sweeteners like honey have been found to protect the gut from mycotoxins. These are toxic compounds that can cause serious health conditions like immune deficiency and even cancer.

As you can see, natural sweeteners are far healthier and easier on the gut than both sugar and artificial sweeteners. Not only do they not come with the associated health risks, but they also come with numerous health benefits that will make your gut happy. 

Are Artificial Sweeteners Less Harmful Than Sugar for Your Gut?

Artificial sweeteners are less harmful to your gut than sugar as they come with no calories. However, artificial sweeteners also pose some serious health risks to your gut health. Using natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or fresh fruit is the healthiest alternative for your gut.

Healthier Alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners

Natural sweeteners are the best alternatives to artificial sweeteners. When looking for something to sweeten your favourite beverage, dessert, or meal, your best bet will be to incorporate something that is all-natural and unprocessed. 

Here are some of the best healthy alternatives to artificial sweeteners:

  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Dates
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh jam
  • Agave syrup
  • Molasses
  • Monk fruit

Next time you need to sweeten your tea, smoothie, or dessert, try using one of the healthier alternatives to artificial sweeteners on our list to maximize the healthfulness of your food. 

What Type of Sweetener is Best For My Gut Health?

Both sugar and artificial sweeteners can have devastating consequences on your gut health. While artificial sweeteners are slightly healthier because they do not have the calories of sugar, they can both increase inflammation and increase pathogenic bacteria in your gut. 

Natural sweeteners like honey, on the other hand, have antibacterial properties and numerous other beneficial effects on your gut health. Always choose a natural sweetener when possible.

If you’d like to learn more about healthy gut habits like this one, download the OSbiome app from the Apple App Store today.