Artificial sweetener may ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis – new study

New research shows that sucralose, the basis of artificial sweeteners, prevents cells from attacking healthy body tissues. Senior author, Professor Karen Woosden of the Francis Crick Institute in London, commented on the study’s rationale. “We hope to piece together the bigger picture of the impact of diet on health and disease,” said Professor Woosden.

A mouse model shows that high amounts of sucralose reduce the activation of T cells that fight disease and infection.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which an overactive immune system attacks healthy cells.

Professor Woosden added: “More studies and studies are needed to see if these effects of sucralose in mice can be replicated in humans.

“If these initial results are confirmed in humans, they may one day offer a way to limit some of the harmful effects of autoimmune diseases.”

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During the experiment, laboratory rodents were fed the equivalent of the acceptable daily intake of sucralose recommended by European and American food safety authorities.

The researchers found that mice fed sucralose had a reduced T-cell response to infection.

Co-author Dr. Julianne Blagikh said: “We have shown that the widely used sweetener, sucralose, is not a completely inert molecule.

“We found an unexpected effect on the immune system. We’re looking to find out if this sweetener affects other cell types or processes.”

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Co-author Dr. Fabio Zani added: “We don’t want people to ignore the message that sucralose is harmful when consumed as part of a normal, balanced diet.

“The doses we used in mice would have been very difficult to achieve without medical intervention. The effects we have observed on the immune system appear to be reversible.

“We think it might be worth exploring whether sucralose can be used to improve a condition such as autoimmunity, especially in combination therapy.”

The EU Scientific Committee on Foods stated that the artificial sweetener Splenda “is not harmful to the immune system, does not cause cancer, does not cause infertility, does not pose a risk to pregnancy and does not affect blood sugar.”

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While this research is in its very early stages, what can be done for those currently suffering from rheumatoid arthritis?

The Arthritis Foundation has indicated that rheumatoid arthritis can lead to chronic joint pain, tenderness, swelling, or stiffness.

Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to joint stiffness first thing in the morning, which can last up to 30 minutes.

“Many people with rheumatoid arthritis get very tired (fatigued), and some may have a low-grade fever,” adds the charity.

Self-help methods for relieving painful joint symptoms include a “balanced, nutritious diet” and daily movement.

Simple substitutions, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can make a difference.

To relieve pain at the moment, cold or hot presses may be helpful.

Topical creams can also relieve joint pain, as can supplementing with omega-3 fish oil.

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