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Artificial Sweetener Splenda Worsens Crohn’s Symptoms, Reveals Study

By: Julie Hand

Artificial Sweetener Splenda Worsens Crohn’s Symptoms, Reveals Study

When it comes to inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s, new research suggests that your diet is a lot more important than you think. A new study[1] finds that the artificial sweetener sucralose, commonly referred to as Splenda, worsens gut inflammation in mice afflicted with Crohn’s-like disease. Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) afflicting the digestive tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, bloody stools, weight loss, and fatigue. Approximately 10-15 percent of people with Crohn’s say that sweeteners increase their symptoms.

Splenda causes intestinal overgrowth of E. coli in mice as well as leaky guts

Half of the mice population studied came from a genetic line that suffers from a form of Crohn’s disease, while the remaining mice came from a healthy mouse line. In a six-week period, Crohn’s disease-like mice drinking water supplemented with Splenda showed signs of intestinal overgrowth of the bacteria E. coli, as well as increased bacterial penetration into their gut walls (aka, leaky gut). Findings demonstrated that Crohn’s disease-like mice were more affected than the healthy mouse line.

“Other dietary habits or additives may lead to similar microbiota alterations”

“Our findings were due solely to the administration of a minor component of the diet,” says the study’s senior author Fabio Cominelli, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and chief of gastroenterology at UH Cleveland Medical Center. “This suggests that other dietary habits or additives may lead to similar microbiota alterations. For instance, diet emulsifiers used as food additives have also been shown recently to alter the gut microbiota and promote colitis in mice. Other scenarios could put Crohn’s disease patients at risk of having exaggerated inflammation as well.”

Select alternative sweeteners

What this study implies for the nearly 1.6 million Americans who have IBD (with numbers steadily increasing each year)[2] is a particular susceptibility to the harms of artificial sweeteners and food additives. Sweeteners can be tricky to navigate for those with IBD because often times the advice is to avoid sugar, which also impacts gut flora. In an effort to do the right thing, you then reach for something else; though in the case of Splenda, this exacerbates symptoms. Fortunately, you’ve got options – check out this list of Bulletproof alternative sweeteners to get started.

Get a handle on your gut

Furthermore, the study suggests that the root cause of IBDs might actually be diet itself and that the foods you’re eating on a consistent basis may be causing the condition in the first place. So, the next step is to heal your gut. Read more about how to get your gut bacteria back on track.

Related: Your IBS Symptoms May Actually Be Caused by SIBO

Detoxify your body from mold with diet

It’s also important to get your body as toxin-free as possible. Do a quick Google search for “Crohn’s, aflatoxins [mold carcinogens].” You might be shocked to learn that most people who have Crohn’s seem to have aflatoxin in their system. Usually it’s in their diet – so get your body tuned up by following a mold-free, anti-inflammatory diet like the Bulletproof Diet.

Go the extra mile: probiotics, yoga, and mind strengthening for Crohn’s

Eager for more tips to tackle IBD and related inflammatory diseases? In a Bullletproof Radio podcast episode, Ari Meisel discusses how he cured his Crohn’s disease using probiotics (make sure you choose them wisely), yoga, and strengthening his mental game. Meisel got tired of all the drugs and being scared of food in his own body, so he decided to reboot his system with the help of his holistic nutritionist/wife.

Meisel revamped his diet and tracked his blood work the entire time to figure out what worked for his body and what didn’t. Now he lives symptom-free. “I believe that I have beaten the hell out of this disease and it will never, ever come back. There’s no signs of it in my body and my c-reactive protein levels, which is a general indicator of inflammation, but particularly related to Crohn’s, this is the lowest it’s ever been,” says Meisel. He now takes supplements like krill oil and probiotics, which he says is the silver bullet to beating Crohn’s.

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