A new study reveals that certain gut bacteria may induce metabolic changes following exposure to artificial sweeteners

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Weizmann Institute of Science Citations Nature, Sept. 17, 2014

Newswise — Artificial sweeteners – promoted as aids to weight loss and diabetes prevention – could actually hasten the development of glucose intolerance and metabolic disease, and they do so in a surprising way: by changing the composition and function of the gut microbiota – the substantial population of bacteria residing in our intestines.

These findings, the results of experiments in mice and humans, were published September 17 in Nature. Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department of Immunology, who led this research together with Prof. Eran Segal of the Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, says that the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in drinks and food, among other things, may be contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemic that is sweeping much of the world.

For years, researchers have been puzzling over the fact that non-caloric artificial sweeteners do not seem to assist in weight loss, with some studies suggesting that they may even have an opposite effect.

Graduate student Jotham Suez in Dr. Elinav’s lab, who led the study, collaborated with lab member Gili Zilberman-Shapira and graduate students Tal Korem and David Zeevi in Prof. Segal’s lab to discover that artificial sweeteners, even though they do not contain sugar, nonetheless have a direct effect on the body’s ability to utilize glucose.

Glucose intolerance – generally thought to occur when the body cannot cope with large amounts of sugar in the diet – is the first step on the path to metabolic syndrome and adult-onset diabetes.

The scientists gave mice water laced with the three most commonly used artificial sweeteners, in amounts equivalent to those permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These mice developed glucose intolerance, as compared to mice that drank water, or even sugar water.

Repeating the experiment with different types of mice and different doses of the artificial sweeteners produced the same results – these substances were somehow inducing glucose intolerance.

Next, the researchers investigated a hypothesis that the gut microbiota are involved in this phenomenon. They thought the bacteria might do this by reacting to new substances like artificial sweeteners, which the body itself may not recognize as “food.” Indeed, artificial sweeteners are not absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, but in passing through they encounter trillions of the bacteria in the gut microbiota.

The researchers treated mice with antibiotics to eradicate many of their gut bacteria; this resulted in a full reversal of the artificial sweeteners’ effects on glucose metabolism. Next, they transferred the microbiota from mice that consumed artificial sweeteners to “germ-free,” or sterile, mice – resulting in a complete transmission of the glucose intolerance into the recipient mice.

This, in itself, was conclusive proof that changes to the gut bacteria are directly responsible for the harmful effects to their host’s metabolism. The group even found that incubating the microbiota outside the body, together with artificial sweeteners, was sufficient to induce glucose intolerance in the sterile mice.

A detailed characterization of the microbiota in these mice revealed profound changes to their bacterial populations, including new microbial functions that are known to infer a propensity to obesity, diabetes, and complications of these problems in both mice and humans.

Does the human microbiome function in the same way? Dr. Elinav and Prof. Segal had a means to test this as well. As a first step, they looked at data collected from their Personalized Nutrition Project (, the largest human trial to date to look at the connection between nutrition and microbiota.

Here, they uncovered a significant association between self-reported consumption of artificial sweeteners, personal configurations of gut bacteria, and the propensity for glucose intolerance. They next conducted a controlled experiment, asking a group of volunteers who did not generally eat or drink artificially sweetened foods to consume them for a week, and then undergo tests of their glucose levels and gut microbiota compositions.

The findings showed that many – but not all – of the volunteers had begun to develop glucose intolerance after just one week of artificial sweetener consumption. The composition of their gut microbiota explained the difference: the researchers discovered two different populations of human gut bacteria – one that induced glucose intolerance when exposed to the sweeteners, and one that had no effect either way.

Dr. Elinav believes that certain bacteria in the guts of those who developed glucose intolerance reacted to the chemical sweeteners by secreting substances that then provoked an inflammatory response similar to sugar overdose, promoting changes in the body’s ability to utilize sugar.

Prof. Segal states, “The results of our experiments highlight the importance of personalized medicine and nutrition to our overall health. We believe that an integrated analysis of individualized ‘big data’ from our genome, microbiome, and dietary habits could transform our ability to understand how foods and nutritional supplements affect a person’s health and risk of disease.”

According to Dr. Elinav, “Our relationship with our own individual mix of gut bacteria is a huge factor in determining how the food we eat affects us. Especially intriguing is the link between use of artificial sweeteners – through the bacteria in our guts – to a tendency to develop the very disorders they were designed to prevent; this calls for reassessment of today’s massive, unsupervised consumption of these substances.”

Also participating in this research were Christoph A. Thaiss, Ori Maza, and Dr. Hagit Shapiro of Dr. Elinav’s group; Dr. Adina Weinberger of Prof. Segal’s group; Dr. Ilana Kolodkin-Gal of the Department of Molecular Genetics; Prof. Alon Harmelin and Dr. Yael Kuperman of the Department of Veterinary Resources; Dr. Shlomit Gilad of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine; Prof. Zamir Halperin and Dr. Niv Zmora of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Tel Aviv University; and Dr. David Israeli of Kfar Shaul Hospital Jerusalem Center for Mental Health.

Dr. Eran Elinav’s research is supported by the Abisch Frenkel Foundation for the Promotion of Life Sciences; the Benoziyo Endowment Fund for the Advancement of Science; the Gurwin Family Fund for Scientific Research; the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; the Adelis Foundation; Yael and Rami Ungar, Israel; the Crown Endowment Fund for Immunological Research; John L. and Vera Schwartz, Pacific Palisades, CA; the Rising Tide Foundation; Alan Markovitz, Canada; Cynthia Adelson, Canada; the estate of Jack Gitlitz; the estate of Lydia Hershkovich; the European Research Council; the CNRS – Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique; the estate of Samuel and Alwyn J. Weber; and Mr. and Mrs. Donald L. Schwarz, Sherman Oaks, CA. Dr. Elinav is the incumbent of the Rina Gudinski Career Development Chair.

Prof. Eran Segal’s research is supported by the Kahn Family Research Center for Systems Biology of the Human Cell; the Carolito Stiftung; the Cecil and Hilda Lewis Charitable Trust; the European Research Council; and Mr. and Mrs. Donald L. Schwarz, Sherman Oaks, CA.

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world’s top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. The Institute’s 2,700-strong scientific community engages in research addressing crucial problems in medicine and health, energy, technology, agriculture, and the environment. Outstanding young scientists from around the world pursue advanced degrees at the Weizmann Institute’s Feinberg Graduate School. The discoveries and theories of Weizmann Institute scientists have had a major impact on the wider scientific community, as well as on the quality of life of millions of people worldwide.


From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

Newswise — CHICAGO—Fats are often considered the enemy of good nutrition, but when included in a healthy diet they can boast several potential health benefits. In the September issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Contributing Editor Linda Milo Ohr writes about how fatty acids and nutritional oils may benefit cognition, weight management, heart health, eye and brain development, and even mood.

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with brain development, cognition, eye health, dementia and depression. They are also widely well-known for their heart health benefits.
    2. Pinolenic Acid: Pinolenic acid is based on pine nut oil derived from a specific Korean pine tree, and is especially rich in long-chain fatty acids. Clinical trials have shown that it can help suppress appetite and promote a feeling of fullness.
    3. Conjugated Linoleic Acid: Conjugated linoleic acid has been shown to affect weight management by helping reduce body fat and increase lean body mass.
    4. Flaxseed Oil: Flaxseed oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids which can contribute to heart health and help reduce inflammation.
    5. Hemp Oil: Hemp seed oil contains a balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 linolenic essential fatty acids, and also contains vitamin E.
    6. Fish Oil: Fish oil is known for its effect on cardiovascular, neurological, and cognitive health.
    7. Canola Oil: A study showed that a canola oil-enriched, low-glycemic-diet improved blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics, especially those with raised systolic blood pressure (Jenkins, 2014).
    8. Soybean Oil: High oleic soybean oil has reduced saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat, and delivers three times the amount of monounsaturated fats compared to commodity soybean oil.
    9. Coconut Oil: Although not as much research has been done compared to olive or fish oil, it is thought to aid in areas such as energy, skin health, and dental health.

About IFT
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food, both today and tomorrow. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government and industry.



From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)


Newswise — CHICAGO— With convenience and value being key drivers when it comes to grocery shopping, successful retailers will be those who adapt to changes in consumer product preferences, technology and lifestyle needs. In the September issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Executive Editor Mary Ellen Kuhn writes about the changing landscape of today’s supermarket. The following seven trends are identified in the article.

  1. Price-Driven Consumers: Middle- and low-income shoppers account for 70 percent of U.S. grocery sales, and even consumers without major financial constraints tend to be frugal and open to shopping in a variety of different channels in order to economize (Jeffries, 2013).
    2. Healthy Living and Fresh Food: 92 percent of U.S. adults believe that eating at home is healthier than eating out (FMI, 2014).
    3. Smaller Grocery Stores: Smaller grocery stores are on track for rapid growth (Jeffries, 2013). Stores are able to refine their offerings based on neighborhood purchasing patterns.
    4. Fresh Prepared Foods: More than half of the households in the U.S. are composed of only one or two people (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012), and consumers often look to stores as their “sous chef.” Consumers often just want to put the finishing touches on an item and avoid the slicing, dicing, and marinating that often come with food preparation (FMI, 2014).
    5. Meal Solutions: Many retailers are putting their own spin on high-quality fare that reflects trendy culinary influences like chef-prepared entrees and salads, ethnic fare, brunch stations, and gelato bars in stores. In addition, supermarkets are bundling together meal components that are tasty and easy to prepare.
    6. Mobile Commerce: According to Catalina Marketing, there are currently more than 1,000 grocery shopping apps for the iPhone. Digitizing supermarket ads and coupons for smartphones, computers, and tablets is important to drive sales and form deeper connections with shoppers.
    7. Online Options: In the future more people are expected to purchase pantry stables online rather than in grocery stores. Although the market for online ordering is growing, experts agree that because grocery shopping is such a sensory experience it will probably never be a totally online process (Tom Johnson, PwC, 2014). Grocery shopping is more likely to become a hybrid online and in-store process with consumers both placing orders online, but also stopping in the store for items.



Experts Applaud Food & Beverage Industry Actions to Improve the Food Environment

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Obesity Society


Newswise — SILVER SPRING, MD: On the heels of new research showing that 16 major food and beverage companies have collectively cut 6.4 trillion calories from U.S. food products, The Obesity Society (TOS) issues an official position statement pointing to the pervasive availability of foods high in calories per unit of weight, or energy density, as a contributing factor for weight gain and obesity. The Society goes further to urge food companies to test and market foods that will help individuals reduce the energy density in their diets and better manage body weight.

“With more than one-third of American children affected by obesity or overweight, it Is no secret that our food environment is a contributing factor to obesity, especially among children,” said Barbara Rolls, PhD, FTOS, TOS past-president and professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University.

“This obesogenic environment is characterized by large portions of tasty, inexpensive, energy-dense foods that are easily accessible in convenience stores, vending machines and restaurants – all areas where food and beverage companies have an overwhelming impact on the nutritional and energy content of foods.”

Examples of foods high in energy density that can lead to consumption of excess calories include those high in sugar, like ice cream, and those high in fat, including deep-fried foods, such as French fries, and cheese. Foods low in energy density and recommended for a healthy diet are those that have a high amount of nutrients per serving, including fruits and vegetables, non-fat milk, whole grains, and fish and other lean proteins.

As detailed in the position statement, a diet reduced in energy density can accommodate a wide range of eating patterns, and can support a lifestyle that includes a healthy, well-balanced diet for weight management. A key component to reduced energy density is the amount of water in our food, which contributes to the weight and volume without adding energy, or calories, and can make us feel more satiated.

“A growing body of evidence indicates that increasing the water content in foods can reduce energy intake and improve diet quality,” continued Dr. Rolls.

“For example, I will feel more full after eating 100 calories of strawberries, which are high in water content, than after eating 100 calories of pretzels. This is because the fruit provides about 13 times more food by weight than the pretzels.”

A successful effort to improve the food environment by food and beverage companies is detailed in the research conducted by TOS members Shu Wen Ng, PhD, and Barry Popkin, PhD, published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study unveils a new, unprecedented system for tracking trends in consumer-packaged goods, which allowed researchers to evaluate consumer trends more closely than ever before. Results show that the 6.4 trillion caloric reduction by the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) member companies translates to a 78-calorie per person, per day decline, with largest calorie cuts to foods coming from products high in energy density, including: sweets and snack foods; fats, oils and dressings, and; carbonated soft drinks. In a second study published in the same issue, researchers tie the effort back to a decline in the calorie content of purchases by American families, and call for more research to continue to track its success.

“We applaud the efforts of the member companies for their work to cut calories from foods high in energy density, and we encourage others in the industry to sign onto this important initiative,” said TOS President Steven Smith, MD.

“Food and beverage companies can take these efforts a step further with a closer look at the energy density of their products. There is a growing consumer demand for healthier food offerings; responding to this demand is a win-win for both corporations and public health.”

In January 2014, Dr. Smith commended the industry for following through on its pledge following its initial announcement.

“Efforts to reduce obesity cannot succeed without the engagement of the many industries that have the power to positively impact the health of billions of people,” he said.

According to the authors, the pledge is just the first step to evaluate the impact of the industry on obesity, and more needs to be done to continue to have a positive impact on the epidemic.

About The Obesity Society
The Obesity Society (TOS) is the leading professional society dedicated to better understanding, preventing and treating obesity. Through research, education and advocacy, TOS is committed to improving the lives of those affected by the disease.








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