If you are pregnant and trying to cut back on high-calorie foods, make sure you do so with expert discretion. According to a latest study use of low calorie artificial or natural sweeteners by pregnant mothers may lead to higher body fat levels in their offsprings. The researchers also said that these sweeteners are also responsible for disrupting the gut microbiome of these children.
Gut microbiome comprises of a number of micro-organisms that could influence our health in more ways than one. The study published in the high-impact journal Gut tried to highlight the impact of low-calorie sweeteners on crucial early years of a woman, particularly during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
"Low-calorie sweeteners are considered safe to consume during pregnancy and lactation, however evidence is emerging from human studies to suggest they may increase body weight and other cardiovascular risk factors," says Dr. Raylene Reimer, a University of Calgary professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology, and Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the Cumming School of Medicine, and member of the Alberta Children's Research Institute.
"Even stevia, which is hailed as a natural alternative to aspartame and other low-calorie artificial sweeteners, showed a similar impact on increasing offspring obesity risk in early life."
Artificial sweeteners are used in a multitude of products nowadays. You could find it in trace amounts even in the most unexpected snacks. A popular example of artificial sweeteners is aspartame, and that of natural sweetener is stevia, a natural low-calorie sweetener extracted from a plant native to South America, which is 200-400 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia is also used as a traditional remedy for diabetes management.
The use of low-calorie sweeteners has risen, particularly in women and children, revealed the study. According to researchers, daily consumption may be associated with larger and overweight babies and early menstruation in young females under 10 years.
Presence of some but not all of these sweeteners has been detected in breastmilk presenting a potential mode of transmission, revealed the study.
"Understanding the impact of dietary ingredients on maternal metabolism and gut microbiota may help to define the optimal maternal diet, one which promotes a healthier future for both mother and child," says Reimer.
While the role of sweeteners in affect weighting gain is not complete but there's ample evidence to show that they affect the gut microbiome.
In this animal study, researchers usedfecal transplant to show the direct influence of altered gut microbiota on causing the increased obesity risk.
"A healthy pregnancy, including good nutrition, is important for a healthy baby," says Reimer. "Our research will continue to examine what makes an optimal diet and more importantly seek to find ways to correct disruptions to gut microbiota should they occur.