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Most food additives and artificial substances worry me, and the Splenda side effects issue is near the top of the list.
I still remember the day my friend told me she was having intense pain in her knuckles, knees, elbows, and other joints. She told me she had cut sugar out of her diet and asked me if I had any advice for why she might be having pain. I dug in and found out she had been replacing sugar with Splenda, and only drinking diet drinks with artificial, calorie-free sugars.
A quick search showed me that thousands of people suffer from joint pain as a result of ingesting sucralose. I relayed the Splenda side effects information to her and pleaded with her to stop adding sucralose to her diet. I told her I'd rather have her drink real sugar than mess with any artificial sweeteners, and she was able to wean herself off of them. I was not at all surprised to hear that her joints feel better now.
Long ago my sister used to use sucralose and the Splenda side effects she had were very telling- she had incredible headaches that subsided only when she stopped using it. I have another friend who is 40-years old and doctors say he needs a hip replacement top replace his 80-year-old hip. He used to drink almost a case of Diet Dew every day.
Every time I see someone add artificial sweeteners to their drinks, I cringe. I hate to be a nutrition nag, but I feel like it's wrong not to share the dirty details. It's so frustrating that people believe the marketing campaigns and think that this "0 calorie, tastes-like-sugar-because-it's-from-sugar" nonsense means that sucralose is healthy.
You're probably wondering the same thing as me; if people are suffering, why is this substance legal and FDA-approved?
Splenda is made from sucralose, an artificial sugar substitute that is "600 times sweeter than sugar." It doesn't have calories, so it's marketed as a diet substitute for sugar. I think people are drawn to Splenda because it has no aftertaste and tastes just like real sugar.
While most artificial sweeteners can't be used in baking, sucralose remains stable when exposed to heat and over time, so it's great for baking and has a longer shelf life.
For all these reasons, it's the perfect sweetener for companies to market as "diet foods," especially in processed foods, and the FDA authorized their use in everything from pudding, gelatin, canned fruit and fruit juice, jam, jelly, frosting, candy, gum, baking mixes, baked goods, pie fillings, salad dressing, fruit ice cream, to imitation cheese, dairy products, milk substitutes, and other beverages.
The short answer is no. Paper is made from trees, but does that mean paper is trees?
To produce sucralose, chemists chemically altered the structure of a sugar molecule and replaced the hydroxyl groups with chlorine atoms. (Everything You Need to Know About Sucralose, International Food Information Council) The chemical transformation makes sucralose a chlorinated sugar, also known as a chlorocarbon.
Chlorocarbons are poisonous; they're used in bleach, disinfectants, insecticide, poison gas, and hydrocholric acid. (http://www.holisticmed.com/splenda/bowen.html) It is beyond disturbing that these companies can legally use poisonous chemical compounds in food products.
Companies using sucralose can get away with marketing them as "made from sugar" because the product did start as sugar. If I take a peach and add poison to it, should I be able to sell it as "made from peaches"?
The FDA's pre-approval test in 1998 showed that anywhere from 11-27% of the sucralose we ingest is absorbed directly into our blood stream, and the rest leaves the body in our urine. (http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/fr980403.html.)
The makers of the sweetener found even higher absorption levels, of between 10.4% and 30.6% in healthy males. The same test also found that anywhere from 1.6% to 12.2% accumulates in the body. (Roberts, A., A.G. Renwick, J. Sims, D.J. Snodin, 2001. "Sucralose Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics in Man," Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 38, Supplement 2, pages S31-S41, 2000.)
It's incredibly disturbing that this chlorocarbon sugar has been the leading artificial sugar on the market since its introduction into the United States. (Browning, Lynnley, "Makers of Artificial Sweeteners Go to Court", New York Times Business section, April 6, 2007)
The United States FDA approved sucralose in 1998, but it has not yet been approved in most European nations. In the pre-approval stage, the FDA conducted short-term tests that actually found the potential for toxicity, but it was approved anyway. There is no warning information of potential Splenda side effects on the labels of the sweetener's products.
According to the "New Scientist" November 23 1991 edition, the pre-approval tests conducted on animals (you know how much I hate these tests) showed toxicity:
After the initial pre-approval tests, the government is off the hook and doesn't need to monitor health risks. We should not be eating products that are completely untested, especially when so many people report severe problems from the product.
There have been no long-term tests (longer than six months) done on the Splenda side effects. The largest trial only included 128 people and lasted only three months. The only independent test was done by Duke University and published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, and it was funded by the sugar industry.
Although it was also a short-term test, Duke's study found that sucralose contributes to obesity, destroys healthy intestinal bacteria, and prevents prescription drugs from being absorbed properly. So much for it being a "diet food."
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A quick internet search shows dozens of sites of people reporting adverse reactions to this artificial sweetener. A few Splenda side effects listed at the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center (STIC):
Based solely on the pre-approval research and looking at its chemical structure, STIC says that the longer someone uses this chemical artificial sweetener, the more likely they are to develop "chronic immunological or neurological disorders."
Destruction of the Environment as Well as the Body
It might have seemed like good news that at most 80-90% of sucralose washes right out of our body in our urine, but consider where it goes afterwards. It will go to a purification plant, turned into "gray water," and then used to water plants in our gardens and across agricultural fields. It's also used in industrial plants. I've even read about communities recycling toilet water and processing it back into drinking water.
We have no way of knowing what that is doing to the environment, our water supply, the animals who eat the crops that have been watered with it, the streams, rivers, or fish because the FDA did not require an Environmental Impact Statement for sucralose, because in their words, "the action will not have a significant impact on the human environment".
Marketing Splenda as a diet alternative is a crime. Splenda executives are preying on the very people who need to avoid sucralose the most; the overweight, the elderly, and young people looking to stay in shape. This chemical has been proven to have severe effects on the body. People shouldn't be treated this way, and we need to pass this information to everyone we care about.
According to the FDA, "increases in glycosolation in hemoglobin imply lessening of control of diabetes." In English, that means that sucralose-based foods are terrible for people with diabetes.
Not only do dieters contaminate their bodies with toxins, they also might be increasing their appetite by eating the artificial sweetener. Consumers' Research Magazine said, "There is no clear-cut evidence that sugar substitutes are useful in weight reduction. On the contrary, there is some evidence that these substances may stimulate appetite".
To find and avoid the sweetener, you have to actually be on a mission to do so, and read every ingredient label. It can also be difficult to cut sucralose out of your diet if you have an addiction to caffeine and enjoy drinking a particular beverage. Luckily, there are plenty of options for more natural sugar substitutes to avoid Splenda side effects.
Here are some natural sugar alternatives:
You may initially pay more for some of these sugar alternatives, but you pay with your health (and potentially your life) with the cheaper non-caloric, chemically based sugars.
You can read more about the dangers of Splenda side effects and other artificial sweeteners in Sweet Deception: Why Splenda, NutraSweet, and the FDA May Be Hazardous to Your Health by Dr. Joseph Mercola.