BGU researchers, alongside colleagues from Cyprus and Turkey, have found that the natural sweetener stevia may disrupt communications between bacteria in the gut microbiome leading to an imbalance.
Their findings were just published in the journal Molecules
The microbiome relies on signaling molecules to communicate and coordinate between gut bacteria. The researchers examined the effect of stevia and purified stevia extracts on these communication pathways.
The team found that stevia inhibited these pathways but did not kill off the bacteria. The extracts exhibited more troubling communication inhibiting tendencies.
"This is an initial study that indicates that more studies are warranted before the food industry replaces sugar and artificial sweeteners with stevia and its extracts," says lead researcher Dr. Karina Golberg (pictured above).
The research was carried out by Prof. Ariel Kushmaro, Dr. Karina Golberg and Prof. Robert Marks of the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering at BGU, their students Orr Share and Victor Markus (Near East University). Prof. Kerem Terali from Near East University and Prof. Nazmi Ozer from Hacettepe University in Cyprus were also members of the research team.
The study was partially supported by the Israeli Council for Higher Education.