It goes without saying that sugar isn’t exactly healthy. While a little treat every now and then is unlikely to do harm, indulging your sweet tooth too often can lead to obesity, dental problems, and a whole host of other issues.
Most people are well aware of these consequences, but what’s lesser-known is the impact sugar has on the gut microbiome. Here’s how it can throw off this delicate ecosystem.
How Sugar Affects the Gut Microbiome
1. Sugar Fuels Bad Bacteria
In healthy individuals, good bacteria receive adequate levels of the fuel they need to proliferate and effectively populate the gut. This keeps the pathogenic varieties in check by limiting their access to nutrients. Excess sugar, however, may tip the balance in favour of harmful strains.
In analysing a study into sugar’s influence on gut bacteria, University College of London Research Fellow Paul Gill said: “A high-sugar diet promoted the growth of a bacterial species that outcompetes commensal ‘good’ bacteria”. It’s important to note that while this observation was made in mice, there’s reason to believe a similar process occurs in humans.
2. Sugar Can Cause Metabolic Diseases
The above statement may seem obvious given the calorific nature of sugar, but there’s another factor that can make it likely to cause weight gain, obesity, or diabetes.
In both animals and humans, an immune cell called “Th17” helps slow the absorption of bad fats and decrease intestinal inflammation. Sugar has been known to eliminate this protective cell.
A 2022 study led by Microbiology Researcher Ivaylo Ivanov highlighted the importance of preserving Th17, even when the diet is otherwise poor: “When we fed mice a sugar-free, high-fat diet, they retain the intestinal Th17 cells and were completely protected from developing obesity and pre-diabetes, even though they ate the same number of calories [as obese sugar-fed mice].”
3. Sugar Can Change Your ‘Gut Feeling’
The gut-brain connection is a well established bodily pathway by which the bacteria in your gut can actually influence your mind.
It’s thought that when sugar-loving bacteria are starved of their preferred substance, they may utilise this pathway to communicate signals of low mood or even pain. Supplying sugar dulls these sensations, but in doing so, promotes patterns of behaviour that can be challenging to overcome. These snowballing cravings for sugar benefit only the bacteria itself.
4. Sugar Can Cause Gut Permeability
When the gut microbiome shifts in response to sugar, changes to the internal mucosal barrier of the intestine occur along with it.
A lack of beneficial bacteria along this barrier heightens permeability, which in turn increases the potential for harmful substances to pass through and enter the bloodstream. These may trigger an inflammatory response that manifests as a variety of symptoms. Possible disease associations include obesity and diabetes, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma and fibromyalgia.
How Biotica Water Supports a Healthy GutWith over 1 billion colony forming units of Bacillus subtilis probiotic, and prebiotic in the form of chicory root, Biotica Water allows you to nourish your gut and maintain the microbiome balance needed to live a long, healthy life.
The unique ingredients found in our Bio-Az formula work synergistically (which is why we call them ‘synbiotics’) to impart maximum benefit. The good bacteria found in each bottle pass through the harsh environment of the stomach unharmed, while the soluble fibre fuels them once they reach the gut. Of course, no Biotica Water product contains sugar.
Explore the delicious sparkling range today, and be sure to peruse our blog for more information.