We’ve all seen the commercials— smiling moms baking “sugar” cookies with Splenda, surrounded by giddy kids waiting to dig in. I’m sure you or a friend gives sugar the cold shoulder in favor of this calorie-free sweetener for your morning cup of joe. The advertisers market it as “natural” and “made from sugar so it tastes like sugar,” but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is the FDA has no definition for “natural” whatsoever; that being said, Splenda is a man-made chemical— you can’t go out in nature and pluck a Splenda granule from a blade of grass or tree. In fact, you can’t find it anywhere in nature—in Mans’ laboratory, absolutely. According to the company website, “It [Splenda] is made through a patented, multi-step 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.” It is the addition of these three chlorine atoms that has experts concerned; according to Marcelle Pick, OB/ GYN NP:
While some industry experts claim the molecule is similar to table salt or sugar, other independent researchers say it has more in common with pesticides. That’s because the bonds holding the carbon and chlorine atoms together are more characteristic of a chlorocarbon than a salt — and most pesticides are chlorocarbons. The premise offered next is that just because something contains chlorine doesn’t guarantee that it’s toxic. And that is also true, but you and your family may prefer not to serve as test subjects for the latest post-market artificial sweetener experiment — however “unique.”
It is interesting to note that there have also been no long-term studies done on the effects of Splenda; the average control groups are only three to six months long and are small groups at that. And the testing done was only on the effects of sucralose—not on dextrose or maltodextrin the other components of Splenda. So what happens a year down the line? Five? Ten? Keep consuming it if you want to find out—we (the public) are the official long-term test subjects now.
Marcelle Pick also notes that:
The manufacturer’s own short-term studies showed that very high doses of sucralose (far beyond what would be expected in an ordinary diet) caused shrunken thymus glands, enlarged livers, and kidney disorders in rodents. (A more recent study also shows that Splenda significantly decreases beneficial gut flora.) But in this case, the FDA decided that because these studies weren’t based on human test animals, they were not conclusive. Of course, rats had been chosen for the testing specifically because they metabolize sucralose more like humans than any other animal used for testing. In other words, the FDA has tried to have it both ways. They accepted the manufacturer’s studies on rats because the manufacturer had shown that rats and humans metabolize the sweetener in similar ways, but shrugged off the safety concerns on the grounds that rats and humans are different.
There can be many more pages of information on Splenda’s short history, side-effects, and potential long-term effects, but space does not permit. I will tell you that it is your personal choice of whether or not you wish to continue consuming it. Just know that some ill-effects you may be suffering from now (such as headaches) could be caused by Splenda.
A safer alternative (if you are diabetic or want to avoid any type of natural sugars from honey and agave) is Stevia. It is a sweet herb that has been used for over 400 hundred years without any negative health issues. Unlike Splenda, Stevia can be found in nature. It is safe for universally everyone, has no impact on glucose levels, and can be added to anything you wish to sweeten from teas to baked goods.
If you have any questions or would like additional information about Splenda, I encourage you to do your own research and consume with caution (or trade it in for Stevia). I’m just an email away!
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One- On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a certified personal trainer and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com. She can also be reached at www. PinkIslandFitness.com or www.101FIT.com and (239) 333-5771.