What sugar substitute do you choose when you decide to “diet” or focus on losing weight? One of the first things you typically decide is to cut out sugar or substitute sugar with another alternative sweetener, one with fewer calories. That choice can be a bit confusing as there are so many sugar substitutes on the market, many of which are artificial sweeteners.
The important question you should ask about artificial sweeteners is, “Is the artificial sweetener good or bad for you?” There are tons of searches on the internet for these concerns: “dangers of artificial sweetener”, “side effects of artificial sweetener”, and the list goes on with specific artificial sweeteners, like Aspartame or NutraSweet®, and Saccharine, sucralose or Splenda®. The reason for these concerns is there are now numerous documented cases of artificial sweetener side effects.
Today I want to zero in on Splenda® because it is the number-one-selling branded sweetener in the United States and in over 80 countries. You can’t go into a grocery store and not see Splenda® displays or Splenda®’s name on another product’s packaging calling attention to the fact that it is one of its main ingredients.
You must pay attention to the marketing. When there is a ton of marketing and advertising surrounding a given product this only means there is plenty of money to be “spent” and “made” in order to persuade you to buy or consume it. Do you see the beekeeping industry advertising honey on TV or plastered all over magazines? Of course the answer is “No.”
Oh, I didn’t mean to get sidetracked, but the many lies and deceptions surrounding the food industry is one of my biggest pet peeves.
In fact if you go to Johnson and Johnson’s website, the maker of Splenda®, this is what’s on the main page of their site: “Focusing on Wellness and Prevention we remain committed to expanding the ways we care for people throughout the world.” I have to ask, “Really?” I noticed this when I went to read what J&J was telling us about Splenda®. Their marketing slogan for Splenda® is “Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar.”
Here is the real deal. There is a bit of truth in that statement. The manufacturing of the product, Splenda®, does begin with a sugar molecule. But the problem is the end result, at the conclusion of their patented process, which doesn’t resemble sugar at all. I’ve been hearing this so I decided to see for myself.
I have included here several questions and answers directly (word-for-word) from J&J’s website. The interesting thing about Splenda® FAQ’s is they sound more like a defense than information. I’ve added my own comments in italics.
What is SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose)?
SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener, also known as sucralose, is a no-calorie sweetener that can be used as part of a healthy diet to reduce the calories and carbohydrate from sugar that you consume.
It is made through a patented process that starts with sugar and converts it to a no-calorie, non-carbohydrate sweetener. The result is a very stable sweetener that tastes like sugar, but without its calories. After you eat SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener, it passes through the body without being broken down for energy, so the body does not recognize it as a carbohydrate.
When something can’t be broken down within the body that is a clear indication that it should not be ingested!
How is SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener made?
SPLENDA® is also the brand name for the ingredient sucralose. It is made through a patented, multistep process that starts with sugar and converts it to a no calorie, non-carbohydrate sweetener. The process selectively replaces three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms. Chlorine is a natural part of salt, which is found in many foods, like lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, melons, and peanut butter, and chlorine is added to most public water supplies. Chlorine is also a part of more complex molecules found in such things as lentils, peas, and potatoes. It is a part of daily life. In the case of sucralose, its addition converts sucrose to sucralose, which is essentially inert. The result is an exceptionally stable sweetener that tastes like sugar, but without sugar’s calories. Sucralose isn’t broken down for energy, and is not recognized by the body as a carbohydrate.
Here is a quote from an article in Taste for Life magazine, Not Too Sweet, December 2007, in response to Splenda®’s patented multistep process: “By the time this process has been carried out to its completion, said sugar molecule has been transformed into a chlorocarbon. A few well-known chlorocarbons include carbon tetrachloride, trichlorethelene, and methylene chloride – toxins that have absolutely no place in a healthy human body.”
Is sucralose (or SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener) natural?
Sucralose (or SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener), the high intensity sweetener used in all SPLENDA®® Products do not represent the product as “natural.” Products is not natural. It is a no calorie sweetener that is made from a process that starts with sugar. Although sucralose has a structure like sugar and a sugar-like taste, it is not natural. The advertising and packaging for SPLENDA
Well, that pretty much sums it up. To insure optimal health you really need to stick to natural ingredients, those derived from the real thing and not altered to resemble anything but the real food.
Why are the ingredients maltodextrin and dextrose in SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Products?
Sucralose, the no-calorie sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, is about 600 times sweeter than sugar. Like other tabletop sweeteners, the granulated and packet products contain small amounts of carbohydrate (less than 1 gram per serving) for consistent sweetening and to provide volume. These bulking ingredients are dextrose (packets) and maltodextrin (packets and granulated). However, the bulking ingredients provide so few calories per serving that the FDA allows the SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Products to be labeled no calorie sweeteners, because they provide less than five calories per serving.
My recommendation for a true no-calorie, natural sweetener is the herb Stevia. It too is very sweet, especially in concentrated form. It has been around for thousand’s of years and is a great alternative and sugar substitute.
When was SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose) approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?
The FDA approved sucralose in 1998 for use in 15 food and beverage categories following a rigorous review process. Sixteen months later, the FDA extended its approval of sucralose to use as a general-purpose sweetener, which means that sucralose is permitted for use in foods, beverages, dietary supplements, medical foods and drugs.
Again quoting from the article in the December 2007 issue of Taste for Life magazine: “Interestingly, not a single long-term clinical study was conducted prior to gaining FDA’s approval of sucralose as a food additive.” They also mentioned that to gain approval as a food additive the majority of the studies were done using rats, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other animals, but no humans.
Here is a list of other questions in the SPLENDA® FAQ’s. From this list you know that many people are very concerned about the sucralose side effects.
- Will SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose) upset my stomach/cause stomach issues?
- Does sucralose cause headaches/migraines?
- Does sucralose affect the kidneys? The liver? The thymus?
- Can pregnant and nursing women use SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose)?
- Can children use SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose)?
- Does SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose) cause tooth decay?
- If SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose) starts from sugar, can people with diabetes use it?
- Can patients on dialysis use SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose)?
- Can patients on chemotherapy use SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose)?
- Are there any known interactions with medications and SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener?
- Can people with corn allergies use SPLENDA® Sweetener Products?
And this list went on as well as other FAQ’s to answer the concerns people must have.
The bottom line – if you are trying to reduce your calorie intake, wean yourself from refined sugar or other artificial sugar substitutes, and/or replace unhealthy ingredients with healthier varieties then you need to choose a natural sweetener, not a chemical concoction.
My next article will offer a list of natural sweeteners for you to consider.
To your wellness,