Consuming low-calorie sweeteners during pregnancy can increase your baby's body fat and disrupt their intestinal microbiota. This has been revealed in a research published in the journal Gut. The gut microbiota consists of the trillions of bacteria and other microbes that live in the intestinal tract and affect our health and our risk of many diseases.
These findings, according to the researchers, are important because they affect the critical early years of life, especially during pregnancy and lactation.
Researcher Rellene Reimer of the University of Calgary in Canada said consuming low-calorie sweeteners is considered safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding, although evidence has come from human studies that it may increase body weight and other cardiovascular risk factors.
Reimer said that stevia, which is seen as a natural alternative to aspartame and other low-calorie artificial sweeteners, also showed a similar effect on increased obesity risk in early life.
According to the researchers, aspartame, an artificial sweetener, and stevia, a natural low-calorie sweetener, extracted from a plant native to South America, are 200-400 times sweeter than sugar.
To avoid high obesity, the use of low-calorie sweeteners has increased among women and children. But its increasing consumption increases the risk of obesity.
Reimer said understanding the impact of dietary content on maternal metabolism and gut microbiota can help define optimal maternal diets that promote a healthy future for both mother and child.
In this study on rats, a fecal transplant was used to show a direct effect of altered gut microbiota on increased risk of obesity. The results showed that the children of mothers who consumed low-calorie sweeteners had an increase in the amount of blood glucose along with an increase in weight.
The study noted that even if the offspring had never consumed sweeteners, changes in the mother's microbiota and metabolism were sufficient to alter the microbiota in her offspring and trigger obesity.