Splenda is made from sucralose. Sounds pretty natural, right? To its credit, Splenda’s slogan does have some truth to it as it is derived from sucrose* – a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit. However, sucralose is anything but natural. It is made by adding chlorine to change the structure of the sucrose molecule. It isn’t recognized as a carbohydrate in the body anymore, making it an attractive calorie-free sweetener.
There is lots of debate over whether sucralose is safe for consumption or not, so I’ll show you what I have found.
Changes to Gut Microflora
An animal study published in 2008, shows the detrimental effects sucralose has on gut bacteria. Over 12 weeks, rats were given Splenda to eat daily. After the 12 weeks, fecal matter was analyzed for changes to microflora. The total numbers of beneficial gut bacteria had significantly decreased and there was no effect on enterobacteria (the bacteria responsible for E.coli & Salmonella poisoning). So, not only did sucralose destroy the good gut bugs, but it preserved the nasty pathogenic gut bacteria. The same study also found an enhanced expression of the proteins P-gp, CYP3A4, and CYP2D1. Elevated levels of these proteins are known to limit the bioavailability of orally administered drugs; this means that whatever medication or drug you take becomes less effective if you have sucralose as well.
What the Reports Say
To be honest, I have trawled through a plethora medical journals to find out more evidence on why this sweetener is ‘bad’ for you. But, I have really only found one reliable source of information (see above study). Another significant toxicology study has shown that sucralose can reduce the size of the thymus gland; but, reviews suggest that shrinkage of the thymus gland is a normal bodily process resulting from low calorie intake and nutritional deficit. It seems that problems caused by sucralose are as result from nutritional deficiencies because the study subjects aren’t eating much else besides foods laced with sucralose – which are normally processed, nutrient sparse foods.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that anything artificial shouldn’t be eaten. As sucralose has been found to mess with gut bacteria, I would steer clear from it; our good gut bacteria should be nurtured, not destroyed. As it is a relatively new sweetener (introduced in Australia in 1992), it hasn’t been around long enough for its effects to be observed in a large population sample. Because sucralose has been found to affect metabolism of drugs, it clearly has some affect in the body. Imagine an old woman with type 2 diabetes taking blood pressure medication, anti-coagulants and beta blockers. She takes Splenda throughout the day in her tea and coffee because she was told to restrict her sugar intake. Sucralose in this circumstance can limit this woman’s ability to absorb these drugs, putting her at risk for a heart attack. If sucralose can disturb metabolism of drugs, imagine what else it could do that hasn’t been discovered yet. The take-away message is that you should be mindful about what you eat.
What is sucralose found in?
Interestingly, sucralose is found in a plethora of health food and gym products! The major ones are:
- Powder BCAA’s
- Protein Powders
- Protein bars – including some QUEST bars
- Meal replacement Shakes
- Electrolyte & Sports Drinks
More foods containing sucralose:
- Diet soft drinks
- Flavoured iced teas
- Flavoured waters
- Hot chocolate mixes
- Sugar-free desserts
- Sugar-free dairy products
I hope you found this information useful and if you have any questions feel free to comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a lovely weekend everyone 🙂
Love Stace x