Artificial sweeteners impair liver’s ability to detoxify

According to one study, eating sugar-free foods and beverages, such as yoghurt and diet sodas, may not be as good for your health as anticipated, as they can affect the liver’s ability to remove toxins.

The study, led by a team at the Medical School of Wisconsin in the US, examined two sugar substitutes, acesulfame potassium and sucralose, also known as non-nutritive sweeteners, and they provide a sweet taste with few calories or nothing.

These disrupt the function of a protein that plays a vital role in liver detoxification and the metabolism of certain medications.

“Many people don’t realize that these sweeteners are found in light or sugar-free versions of yoghurts and snack foods, and even in non-food products like liquid medications and certain cosmetics,” said Laura Danner, a doctoral student in the School of Medicine. . .

In the study, the team found that acesulfame potassium and sucralose inhibited the activity of P-glycoprotein (PGP), which is also known as multidrug resistance protein 1 (MDR1). PGP is part of a family of transporters that work together to cleanse the body of toxins, drugs, and drug metabolites.

“We found that sweeteners affected PGP activity in liver cells at concentrations expected through consumption of common foods and beverages, well below the maximum limits recommended by the FDA,” said Stephanie Olivier Van Stechelen, PhD, who leads the research team.

“To our knowledge, we are the first group to decipher the molecular mechanism by which non-nutritive sweeteners affect detoxification in the liver.”

Experiments also showed that sweeteners stimulated transport activity and likely bound PGP and thus competed with and inhibited the transport of other substrates, such as xenobiotics, drugs and their metabolites, short-chain lipids, and bile acids.

Although the researchers caution that the study is preliminary and needs to be confirmed in preclinical and clinical studies, the findings suggest that non-nutritive sweeteners could be problematic for people taking medications that use PGP as a primary detox transporter. These include certain antidepressants, antibiotics, and blood pressure medications.

“If future studies confirm that non-nutritive sweeteners affect the body’s detoxification process, it would be essential to study potential interactions and determine safe levels of consumption for risk groups,” Danner said. “It might also be important to include specific amounts of non-nutritive sweeteners on food labels so people can better track their intake.”