Splenda Side Effects

splenda-coffeeAs a part of getting back to our natural paleolithic diet, we have to consider the amount of man-made chemicals we have introduced into our diet.  Further, we have to look at the covariance of these introductions with disease rates, etc.

We find the promises of sucralose (mostly marketed as Splenda) disturbing.  It may not kill us all in the next 24 hours, but given the choice I don’t think we should be using sucralose in place of natural sugars.  See the following promises and our responses:

  • “Safe for everyone”
    Sucralose is positioned as safe for everyone.  But we have found that (among other side effects):

    • It reduces normal intestinal flora (anaerobes and bifidobacteria) by 50% at a high dose in rats[1].  You absolutely need a your intestinal flora unharmed as it is essential to absorption of some nutrients and critical in immunity.  Further, it is needed to produce vitamins like Vitamin K and Biotin. Clostridium Difficile (C Diff) sufferers out there?  How would you like to reduce your normal flora by even a small bit?
    • It significantly reduces the size of thymus glands in animal testing at a dose of 3000 mg/kg bw/day [2].  Granted, this is a fairly high dose, but if it reduces my thymus gland a single bit, I’m not interested.  Your thymus is where T lymphocytes grow and it is essential in preventing autoimmunity.  So, if you are worried at all about autoimmune diseases, take care of your thymus gland.
    • Other studies show sucralose causing enlarged liver and kidneys.
  • “Made from real sugar”
    The manufacturers of sucralose admit publicly that it is NOT NATURAL.  In fact it starts as regular sugar, but is then chemically modified by replacing 3 hydroxyl groups on sugar with 3 chlorine atoms.  So, what if it comes from “real sugar”, it is no longer real sugar, it is something chemically new that humans have not consumed in thousands or millions of years.  Want a picture of the molecule?  See http://www.feingold.org/Research/splenda.html.
  • “Splenda helps you lose weight”
    Because sucralose is chemically altered sugar, our bodies don’t recognize it as food anymore and we don’t get calories from it.  Well, that isn’t entirely true, search scale-splendafor some studies and you’ll see some people do metabolize and most of us store some of it without passing it through which also isn’t a good thing.  Anyway, there are studies suggesting that artificial sweeteners in general actually INCREASE appetite.  Eat sucralose, get more hungry?  I guess so.
  • “Splenda is Sweeter than Sugar”
    Sucralose promises the benefits of a super-sweet taste (600 times sweeter than table sugar) without the risk of gaining weight from eating regular sugar.  Remember the first time you ate a “sweet and rich” type of food?  For me it was custard when I was still a kid.  As you eat more of it over time you are able to eat more of it without the “too-rich” feeling making you stop eating it.  When dieters use a lot of sucralose they get used to the ease of sweet tasting foods.  When they return to “real” sugars after quitting their diet, they are accustomed to sweeter and sweeter foods and put on pounds as a consequence.

Sucralose (Splenda) may be ok to eat according to studies across large populations, but these types of studies sure do raise red flags to me.  Is it worth taking the risk?

So, yes, we do need to evaluate the new chemicals we are putting into our bodies.  Our diets have changed drastically since the Paleolithic Age and we likely aren’t optimally running our bodies if we take new chemicals everyday that our bodies have never seen.

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[1] Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, Volume 71, Issue 21, Pages 1415-1429, “’Splenda Alters Gut Microflora and Increases Intestinal P-Glycoprotein and Cytochrome P-450 in Male Rats”, Authors: M.B. Abou-Donia, E.M. El-Masry, A.A. Abdel-Rahman, R.E. McLendon, S.S. Schiffman
[2] Report from NICNAS, The Australian Government regulator of industrial chemicals (PDF)

Coffee Picture Above: http://www.flickr.com/photos/streamishmc/ / CC BY-ND 2.0
Scale Picture Above: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bensonkua/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

One thought on “Splenda Side Effects

  • July 4, 2009 at 5:53 am
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    Splenda is used in many children’s medicines…BAD.

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