Non-nutritive Sweeteners and Their Role in the Gastrointestinal Tract

Living reference work entry
Part of the Reference Series in Phytochemistry book series (RSP)


Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) were once thought to be metabolically inert, but have recently been shown to exert physiologic activity in the gastrointestinal tract. Mechanisms underlying their activity include binding to sweet taste receptors in enteroendocrine L-cells and pancreatic beta cells, through influencing glucose transport, and through altering the gut microbiota. The majority of in vitro studies demonstrate that NNS elicit gut hormone secretion and stimulate insulin release; and, findings from rodent models largely support these data. However, whether NNS affect gut hormones, insulin responses, glucose absorption, or microbiota in humans is not clear. Further research investigating the extent to which NNS exert clinically relevant activity in the gastrointestinal tract is required to determine whether these commonly consumed replacements for added sugars are beneficial or detrimental to human health.


Artificial sweeteners Diet soda Metabolism Obesity Diabetes 



United states food and drug administration


Generally recognized as safe


Non-nutritive sweetener



This work was supported in part by the intramural research program of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and in part by the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at the George Washington University.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section on Pediatric Diabetes and MetabolismNational Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney DiseasesBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Exercise and Nutrition SciencesThe George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

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