The Effects of Non-Nutritive Artificial Sweeteners, Aspartame and Sucralose, on the Gut Microbiome in Healthy Adults: Secondary Outcomes of a Randomized Double-Blinded Crossover Clinical Trial

Nutrients. 2020 Nov 6;12(11):3408. doi: 10.3390/nu12113408.


Non-nutritive artificial sweeteners (NNSs) may have the ability to change the gut microbiota, which could potentially alter glucose metabolism. This study aimed to determine the effect of sucralose and aspartame consumption on gut microbiota composition using realistic doses of NNSs. Seventeen healthy participants between the ages of 18 and 45 years who had a body mass index (BMI) of 20-25 were selected. They undertook two 14-day treatment periods separated by a four-week washout period. The sweeteners consumed by each participant consisted of a standardized dose of 14% (0.425 g) of the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for aspartame and 20% (0.136 g) of the ADI for sucralose. Faecal samples collected before and after treatments were analysed for microbiome and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). There were no differences in the median relative proportions of the most abundant bacterial taxa (family and genus) before and after treatments with both NNSs. The microbiota community structure also did not show any obvious differences. There were no differences in faecal SCFAs following the consumption of the NNSs. These findings suggest that daily repeated consumption of pure aspartame or sucralose in doses reflective of typical high consumption have minimal effect on gut microbiota composition or SCFA production.

Keywords: aspartame; gut microbiome; non-nutritive sweetener; protocol; randomized clinical trial; sucralose.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Aspartame / pharmacology*
  • Biodiversity
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolomics
  • Middle Aged
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners / pharmacology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Sucrose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
  • Sucrose
  • trichlorosucrose
  • Aspartame