Sucralose, found in Splenda and many other sugar-free or diet items, has come under the gun a few times, so we're here to help set the record straight.
By Allison Van Heusen peer-reviewed medical journal stating that Splenda (sucralose) is bad for you. So, let’s get to it. Let’s find out what sucralose is, how it works, why it and other artificial sweeteners have so many naysayers and why the evidence against sucralose doesn’t really have a leg to stand on. But, in the end, you can decide for yourself. To make sucralose, you start with sucrose (table sugar), selectively remove three hydrogenoxygen molecules, then replace them with three chlorine molecules. Most commonly sold as Splenda, sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar and currently approved for use in more than 80 countries. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved sucralose in 1998 after reviewing more than 110 animal and human safety studies conducted over 20 years. Because of the structure of the sucralose molecule, it is not absorbed by the body (can’t pass through the intestinal wall) and therefore is calorie free, will not raise your blood sugar, and as a bonus, won’t give you cavities. For the record, because sucralose is so much sweeter than sugar, Splenda is bulked up with maltodextrin, a starchy



What is this stuff?

et's face it: if you're trying to eat a healthy diet, sugar and sweets typically get the boot. Thankfully we have artificial sweeteners that are hundreds of times sweeter than the real deal, but minus all the calories. But artificial sweeteners often get a bad rap. And sucralose, most commonly sold as Splenda, is no exception. Perhaps your mother told you it would cause cancer. Maybe your brother said he read somewhere that Splenda (sucralose) will make your stomach stick out. Or maybe you’re afraid that sucralose’s chemical component, chlorine, is going to damage your organs somehow. Well, I want to help set the record straight. I dug through mountains of information (some credible, others not so much) to help separate fact from fiction. You might be surprised to learn that I couldn’t find one piece of credible evidence in a




powder, which also helps it to measure more like sugar. In fact, Splenda is 99 percent maltodextrin and only 1 percent sucralose. So no, Splenda is not a natural product, as is stated on their website. It is a calorie-free sweetener that is made from a process that starts with sugar.

To find what is considered to be credible research, it is important to look at studies published (on paper, not just online) in peer-reviewed medical journals because you know the study was done by a credible MD or PhD, that the testing methods and data collection were properly executed, and Is it safe? an adequate amount of subjects were included to make the The current critics of artificial sweeteners, and there are study’s findings statistically significant and valid. The peers many, say artificial sweeteners can cause everything from who review are also MDs or PhDs, not someone who posted sleep disturbances and sexual dysfunction, to Lupus, an opinion online. A great place to find these studies is www. diabetes and cancer. Back, a service in the 70s, Sweet ‘N’ Low of the Unites States took a big hit when a study National Library of Medlinked saccharin to bladder icine, which provides cancer in lab rats. However, free access to MEDLINE, according to the National the NLM database of a Cancer Institute and other wide variety of science health agencies, no sound journal articles. Here is scientific evidence exists what studies published that saccharin or any other in peer-reviewed medical artificial sweetener approved journals showed about for use in the United States sucralose. today cause cancer or other One study conducted serious health problems. on rats and published But if you surf the 'net in Food and Chemical Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, which is a carbohydrate that for “sucralose,” the hits Toxicology in November naturally occurs in certain fruits and vegetables, but can regarding the hazards of 2010 found that sucraalso be manufactured. Sugar alcohols are not sweeter this artificial sweetener lose did not harm or efthan sugar. In fact, some kinds are less sweet than sugar. are endless. If you look fect any of the rats’ geThey do contain calories, but are lower in calories than closer, you might start netics. Genetic changes, actual sugar. In spite of their name, sugar alcohols don’t questioning the source of the when they do occur, can actually contain ethanol, the alcohol found in adult information. One website, lead to cancer. A previbeverages. Sugar alcohols can be found in chocolate, w w w. t r u t h a b o u t s p l e n d a . ous study published in candy, toothpaste, mouthwash, baked goods and sugarcom, for example, shows the same journal, comfree chewing gum. a little girl staring at a plate pared sucralose and its Possible benefits of sugar alcohols include weight of cookies with a terrified two main metabolites control, because they contain fewer calories than sugar, look on her face under the (the substances it breaks about 2 calories per gram; and better blood sugar control banner, “Do you know what down to when metabofor diabetics, because of their lower calories and the fact your children are eating?” lized in the body) to a that they don’t completely absorb in the body. Also, sugar However, when reading the known neurotoxic artialcohols don’t promote cavities, which is the reason they fine print at the bottom of the ficial sweetener, 6-CG. are often in gum. screen, you will find that the The study found no Labled as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the website was created by The changes in the central U.S. Federal Food & Drug Administration, there are few Sugar Association (which nervous system (CNS) of health concerns associated with sugar alcohols. When represents beat and cane the mice and monkeys sugar farmers of America). eaten in large amounts though, usually more than 50 taking sucralose and its Another site featuring Dr. grams but sometimes as little as 10 grams, sugar alcohols metabolites, but did find Janet Starr Hull, who wrote, CNS damage from subcan have a laxative effect, causing bloating, intestinal Splenda: Is It Safe Or Not?, jects taking the 6-CG. gas and diarrhea. touts the “harmful effects” Another study found of the chemical component that repeated exposure Source: in sucralose, chlorine. But, to sucralose in newborn Hull earned a bachelor's in baby rats (comparable geology, she has no medical to 1 to 4 week old hudegree, she is not a registered dietician, but she does mans) did not result in any damage to their brains or their have a "PhD” in holistic nutrition (from a non-accredited behavior as adults. correspondence school that suddenly closed in 2010 The most “damning” study, which comes from Duke without refunding millions paid by current students who are University, reported that in rats, Splenda increased body now suing the college). From her website, she is selling two weight, decreased beneficial intestinal bacteria and might books, hair analysis tests, a detoxification kit and nutrition interfere with the absorption of nutrients and drugs. But counseling. All that aside, I took notes on the most common when this study was examined in depth by a panel of of these “toxic side effects” and went looking for data to credible medical experts, the results (published in peersupport the websites claims. reviewed journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology)

How can I find credible information?

Zeroing in on XyLItOL


ı OCTOBER 2011

were “deficient in several critical areas” and that “the study conclusions are not supported by the data presented.” The only animal study I found showing any harmful effects of sucralose was published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2000. For this study, rats were fed 1, 2.5 and 5 percent of their daily food consumption in sucralose for 4 or 8 weeks. There were no toxicologically significant effects observed at the 1 percent or 2.5 percent dietary levels. However, the rats administered 5 percent sucralose, showed decreases in food consumption, weight gain, and tissue changes in their spleen and thymus. Before you get all worked up about these results, let’s think about this in human consumption amounts. Splenda, according to the package, has 0 calories per serving (1 tsp) based on a 2,000 calorie diet. For our purposes, let’s say it has 1 calorie per teaspoon. If a person eats a 2,000 calorie diet, he or she would have to consume 2 cups of sucralose a day – and don’t forget that Splenda is only 1 percent sucralose – so you would need to consume around 200 cups of Splenda per day for 4 to 8 weeks to match the rats in this study. That's a lot of Splenda! According to the FDA, research shows sucralose to be well tolerated and “showed no indication that adverse effects on human health would occur from frequent or long-term exposure at the maximum anticipated levels of intake.” A repeated dose study of sucralose tolerance in human subjects published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2000, showed that human blood chemistry, urinalysis and EKG tracings were unaffected by sucralose administration for up to 12 weeks. A 13week tolerance study published in this same article found no changes in the subjects’ vision or eye structure. Another study, published in the Journal

of the American Dietetic Association in December 2003, ran a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study on subjects with type 2 diabetes who were given doses of

allows muscles to contract (including your beating heart), and helps regulate, along with sodium and potassium, your body’s fluids and pH balance. Stomach acid is made of hydrogen and chlorine


Maltodextrin is a processed natural sweetener and filler made from corn, potato, rice or wheat. Actually, maltodextrin is similar to Stevia, as it is a highly processed or refined form of a naturally occurring substance. Even when made from wheat, maltodextrin is gluten free because it is such a highly processed ingredient that the protein is removed, rendering it gluten free. The U.S. Federal Food & Drug Administration defines maltodextrins as “nutritive saccharide polymers that consist of D-glucose units linked together. They are prepared as a white powder and are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as direct human food ingredients at levels consistent with current good manufacturing practices.” Maltodextrin has an excellent safety profile as it is in many products, including infant formula, baked goods, snacks, cereals and hydration beverages. It is used for hospital tube feeding diets, and even used as an alternative to glucose in an IV form to rehydrate very young children who have diarrhea. According to Bastyr University Clinic, maltodextrin is also commonly used to treat malnutrition in patients with cirrhosis of the liver.

sucralose approximately three times the estimated maximum daily intake. The results showed “no clinically meaningful differences between the groups in any safety measure” and that sucralose was “as well tolerated.” I did find one case study in the journal Headache published in 2006 of one female subject who had migraine headaches triggered by sucralose.

But isn't chlorine bad?

(hydrochloric acid), which we need for proper digestion. And, unless you have certain kidney diseases, chloride does not build up in the body, it is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and excreted in urine. If you need even more convincing, I’m willing to bet that you put chlorine on your food at almost every meal. Table salt is a combination of sodium and chlorine called sodium chloride.

Sucrose molecule (sugar)

Sucralose molecule (Splenda)

CHeMiSTrY 101

To make sucralose, you start with sucrose (table sugar), selectively remove three hydrogenoxygen molecules, then replace them with three chlorine molecules.

Remember, each sucralose molecule has three molecules of chlorine attached to it in a form called chloride. First of all, because the sucralose molecule cannot pass through the intestinal walls, it is never absorbed into the blood stream, and therefore no chlorine makes it into your system. But, if you are still concerned about chlorine, let me put your mind at rest. Chlorine is essential for humans to live, you would literally die without it. According to the book, Clinical Methods, published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, chloride (the same form as found in sucralose) is in your blood and in the fluid surrounding all of the cells in your body. Chloride carries an electrical charge in the body, like sodium and potassium, which is why they are called “electrolytes.” This electrical charge allows your nerve cells to work,

So folks, what have we learned?

First, don’t believe everything you read. Research the claims using credible data. Second, sucralose is a safe artificial sweetener. It will not give you cancer, won’t affect your vision, change your genetics or damage your central nervous system. It doesn’t harm your intestines, cause gas or bloating. Medical literature shows that, like most things, when used in moderation, sucralose is a safe and well tolerated artificial sweetener. If you don’t tolerate it for whatever reason, like the lady with the migraines, don’t eat it. As far as weight loss is concerned, Splenda can help in terms of cutting out calories from sweets, but it is not the answer. If you eat a healthy diet and exercise, you will shed pounds (surprise!). Plus, you can safely save a few calories by drinking diet beverages or putting that yellow packet in your coffee or tea. MS&F



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