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If you were told to ingest a biologically alien synthetic chemical whose presence on this planet did not predate 1976, and whose structure is only a few atoms away from the deadly pesticide DDT, and you knew that not only were there no long term human safety studies performed on it, but that it had been already proven in tests to have following adverse health effects [click hyperlinked text to read the study abstracts]:
· Shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage)
· Enlarged liver and kidneys.
· Reduced growth rate
· Decreased red blood cell count
· Aborted pregnancy (Maternal & Fetal Toxicity)
· Decreased fetal body weights and placental weights
· Increase glycosylation of hemoglobin (HbA1c) for diabetics
...would you still consume it? Of course not! And yet, millions of Americans (including our precious children!) are doing exactly that by consuming Splenda. So, what is sucralose, chemically speaking?
Like "Splenda," the term "sucralose" is a cute little marketing ploy. The true name of this ugly little chemical is actually too long for the human tongue to comfortably pronounce (which is usually an excellent indication that it is not safe to ingest!) Go ahead and see if you can wrap your vocal chords around this phonetic monstrosity:
Despite the intended insinuation, sucralose is not a form of sucrose (cane sugar). Sucralose/Splenda is produced through artificially substituting three hydroxyl groups (hydrogen + oxygen) with three chlorine atoms in the sugar (sucrose) molecule. Natural sugar is a hydrocarbon built around 12 carbon atoms. When transformed into Splenda it becomes a chlorocarbon, in the same family as deadly pesticides like DDT, insecticides, biocides, disinfectants like Chlorox Bleach, and WWI poison gas like dichlorourea.
Recent research, in fact, shows that when heated -- as in its advertised application as an ideal sugar alternative for baking -- it releases highly toxic dioxin. Considering this fact, can this really be considered a food or should it be treated as a dangerous chemical?
The makers of sucralose/Splenda argue that this "remarkably stable" chemical passes unchanged into the urine and feces, when in fact, up to 11% to 27% is absorbed into the body (FDA, 1999). In fact, the varying degrees to which sucralose is absorbed is used as a marker for gut and intestinal permeability to determine certain disease states. Once absorbed, some portion of this chlorocarbon accumulates in the body (between 1.6% to 12.2%). What effects will these accumulated chemicals have? According to James Bowen, M.D:
"Any chlorocarbons not directly excreted from the body intact can cause immense damage to the processes of human metabolism and, eventually, our internal organs. The liver is a detoxification organ which deals with ingested poisons. Chlorocarbons damage the hepatocytes, the liver's metabolic cells, and destroy them. In test animals Splenda produced swollen livers, as do all chlorocarbon poisons, and also calcified the kidneys of test animals in toxicity studies."
How can this be true for an FDA approved sweetener?
FDA approval does not in any way guarantee safety... sadly enough, in many cases, it guarantees the exact opposite. Take aspartame for instance. Aspartame (Equal/NutraSweet) contains 10% methanol, which is broken down in our body into two extremely toxic substances: formaldehyde and formic acid. There are over 30 known adverse health effects associated with its consumption! This sweetener gained FDA approval in 1981, despite appalling evidence linking it to cancer, particularly, brain cancer.
So, if Splenda is not a viable alternative to sugar, what can we use instead?
When one uncouples the experience of "sweetness" from caloric content, the body becomes confused because it does not receive nourishment and therefore will not attain satiety – this, in turn, leads to overindulgence. Indeed, new studies have shown exactly this: those who consume synthetic sweeteners are more prone to obesity. What this means is that when we ingest something sweet, it should also have caloric and nutritional content. Anything less than this equation is a recipe for failure and ill health.
Thankfully Nature provides us with a veritable cornucopia of healthy sweeteners: honey, stevia, xylitol, erythritol, and dehydrated organic cane juice, all of which are available at your local health food store. Next time that sweet tooth calls, remember not to succumb to advertising hype which would convert poisonous chemicals into "magical" no-calorie sweeteners. Use both common sense and a sense of moderation, and your body will thank you.
Latest Update (May 2, 2013):