It’s been many years since we started to see stories about the adverse effects experienced by people who use the artificial sweetener, SUCRALOSE (Splenda). But, for the most part, they were JUST STORIES, anecdotal reports from people who seemed to be having bad experiences after using this artificial sweetener. The community that supported the use of sucralose had solid, scientific evidence that their product was safe. The stories about problems were usually debunked.
Research reported in January, 2008 is just starting to see the light of day. It was published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. The authors are associated with Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Caroline. They report a 12 to 24-week study that used rats. Why rats?
“Rats serve as very important animal models of many human diseases and conditions and are one of the most important experimental animals in studies related to understanding physiological processes and health concerns in humans,” said NCRR Director Judith Vaitukaitis, M.D. “Almost every organ system in humans can be studied using specific rat strains or mutants.” (quote from NIH).
Evidence from this research indicates that a 12-wk administration of Splenda exerted numerous adverse effects, including
- reduction in beneficial fecal microflora,
For years I’ve recommended that people should take a daily dose of a quality probiotic. These products provide billions of active colony-forming units of “good bacteria”, the organisms in our guts that help us digest food and absorb nutrients. There are many things in our environment and diet that can kill off these beneficial “bugs”. This recent study demonstrates that something as common as Splenda can reduce the numbers of good bacteria – as much as 50%. That is significant. (The probiotic we recommend is Florajen 3)
- increased fecal pH,
The presence of sucralose in the gut raised pH, the amount of alkaline material. That means that it REDUCES the amount of acid (HIGHER pH means LOWER acid). Acid is necessary for digestion and it seems that acid levels are “out-of-whack” in almost everyone. For proof, just take a look at how many “antacid” products are on the shelves. CONCLUSION: Determine if any of the products you consume contain Splenda (or sucralose
- enhanced expression levels of P-gp, CYP3A4, and CYP2D1,
These are known to limit the bioavailability of orally administered drugs. Now we’re into something serious. If you are using sucralose regularly, any drugs you take – ANY DRUGS – might not be working as you or your doctor intends. If you have experienced troubling side effects or unexpected activity from any drug, talk to your doctor. The evidence suggests that the issue may be directly related to any sucralose you are consuming. Your doctor must know about this and you have to communicate with him or her if you are using a drug and plan to change your diet.
Another finding is ironic. While most people use sucralose to reduce their calorie intake – and help them loose weight – this research points out that using sucralose can actually cause weight gain.
Overall, I am not surprised by this research report. Using chemicals instead of natural products is rarely a good plan, especially when the natural products are far less harmful overall. Sugar – in reasonable amounts – is safe if you MUST have sweetness. Be sure that you use beet or cane sugar, not the most common product called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS – a product that has undergone enzymatic processing to increase fructose content). Another plant product is extracted from an herb called Stevia rebaudiana – one of a genus of plants native to South and Central America. The best course of action is to find ways to reduce the overall amount of all sweeteners. Sweetness is pleasant, but it is often overdone – just think of a fudge brownie ala mode (sweet cake, thick fudge topping, with a scoop of ice cream).
- Use a probiotic every day (Florajen 3)
- Add acids to your diet (don’t take antacid drugs)
- Talk to your doctor before your totally stop using sucralose if you are using ANY drugs
- Don’t use ANY artificial sweeteners to lose weight
- Make a plan to cut your cravings for sugar. It takes time, but it is worth the effort.
Wikipedia reports that sucralose is added to over 4,500 foods (Information extracted 10/22/2008)
FDA approval of Sucralose. Sucralose is the chemical 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-