Ramifications of natural and artificial sweeteners on the gastrointestinal system
(1) Williamston High School Math and Science Academy, Williamston, Michigan; equal contribution, (2) Williamston High School Math and Science Academy, Williamston, Michiganhttps://doi.org/10.59720/22-138
As the clamor for healthier diets increases, many alternatives to glucose, the standard sugar, are coming into focus. We aimed to determine whether artificial sweeteners are harmful to the human microbiome by investigating two different bacteria found to be advantageous to the human gut, Escherichia coli and Bacillus coagulans. To measure the variation in bacterial growth relating to each sweetener, we mixed different sweeteners – glucose and stevia as natural sweeteners, and sucralose and acesulfame potassium as artificial sweeteners – with agar on which the bacteria would be growing. Then, both E. coli and B. coagulans were placed on separate agar plates and allowed to incubate for 24 hours and 96 hours, respectively. A dramatic reduction in bacterial growth was observed for the agar plates containing the two artificial sweeteners in comparison to the two natural sweeteners. Using an ANOVA test, we were able to demonstrate that when comparing each of the four combinations of artificial sweeteners to natural sweeteners, there was a significant difference in perceived growth. This led to the conclusion that both artificial sweeteners inhibit the growth of the two bacteria and warrants further study to determine if zero-sugar sweeteners may be worse for the human gut than natural sugar itself.
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