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If you’ve been scarfing down diet soda and other artificially sweetened foods for a good part of your life because you think it’s good for weight control, you’re not going to like this news.

According to an Israeli study published in the journal Nature, researchers found that artificial sweeteners given to lab mice as well as to humans played havoc with the bacteria in the gut and brought about the onset of glucose intolerance, which is frequently a precursor of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, which used to be known as adult-onset diabetes, or non-insulin dependent diabetes, has become a serious health problem for both adults and children in the United States and other countries. People who have Type 2 diabetes take insulin, unlike those with Type 1 diabetes, but in Type 2 it’s either not enough to metabolize the sugar and carbohydrates consumed or it’s used ineffectively. Lack of or ineffective use of natural insulin by the body causes sugars to build up on the blood instead of moving to the body’s other cells and causes them to malfunction.  This leads to dehydration, nerve damage, blood vessel damage in the eyes, heart, and kidneys, and diabetic coma. If left untreated it can lead to heart attack, stroke, and death.

The researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science stated “our findings suggest that NAS (non-calorific artificial sweeteners) may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight.”

Photo: Flickr via PunchingJudy

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