Artificial Sweeteners, Gut Flora, and Staying Lean

I am becoming more and more fascinated with the role that our gut flora plays on our overall health, and the more research I come across it seems to play a larger role than I anticipated.
I have made changes to try to make my gut flora much healthier, such as adding in good probiotics, making sure I am taking in adequate amounts of prebiotics (such as resistant starches from raw potato starch and green bananas. As well as a heathy amount of soluble fiber), and finally eating a fair share of fermented food such as sauerkraut and kombucha. Doing this has undoubtedly had a positive effect on my digestion, skin health and making it easier to stay lean. I can literally get away with eating 2-300 gram of carbs a day, even when I am not training hard, and stay quite lean. Three years ago, that would have been impossible. It has had additional effects on other health markers, but that is neither here nor there…back to my question:

What are the thoughts are from those who know more than me, on the effect that artificial sweeteners have on gut health? It seems the scientific world is only in the beginning stages of understanding gut health. There has been some recent research that has come out, alluding that artificial sweeteners could possibly affect gut flora for the worse. Additionally there also seems to be a difference in the gut flora of those individuals who are naturally lean as opposed to those who tend to naturally carry more weight.
I ask here because I am quite fond of Plazma, and want to start using it again to help with my recovery from lifting. Artificial sweeteners are holding me back from making the purchase. I guess I could just take it and forgo the artificial sweeteners, but the taste would be horrendous. I am also aware that I may be over analyzing, as the amount of sucralose is minimal. It is only an issue because of the success I have had with making gut health a priority.

Cool to hear you saw some solid results so far.

All in all, I’d say it’s not something to be concerned with in the big picture unless your intake of artificial sweeteners is extreme (like, lots of diet sodas during the day and a bunch of Mag-10 or Plazma everyday and a sugar-free ice cream everynight).

Bill Roberts, who wrote this article about gut health, doesn’t feel there’s a significant issue with occasional sweetener use. He discussed it a bit in this thread

I’d approach it the way I approach things like organic food or xenoestrogens. It’s a personal decision that you need to make, weighing how much of an effort is worthwhile, in your eyes, to stick to using or avoiding those foods versus how practical it actually is and how limiting it may make your overall lifestyle.

And, yeah, Plazma without flavoring is some Fear Factor-level stuff. Some guys do it on purpose because they can tolerate it (I think Dave Tate actually received Plazma before they figured out the flavoring, so he didn’t have a choice), but there’s pretty much no reason to do that. You’ve got to figure you’re using, what, 1-2 caps of flavoring, max? That’s not exactly a ton of sucralose. I wouldn’t expect any issues from it, similar to what Bill was saying.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Disclaimer: Individual results may vary.