Let’s Talk Artificial Sweeteners
(The Splenda Story)
Last summer, I met my long time friend’s new girlfriend Annie during a nice supper.
And because she was interested in nutrition and health (and losing some pounds, of course), I had to do what I do best: be a real
Nutrition Nerd and answer a series of questions on food and health.
(I love it.)
So Annie asked me about what I do, how can I reach so many people online and then what she should change in her diet first.
“What do you use to sweeten your recipes?”, I asked.
“Oh, I don’t use sugar anymore… too many empty calories, you know!”, Annie replied with pride.
“Then what do you use instead?”, I added.
“Oh it’s Splenda. And I use it everywhere… No calories, no problem!”, Annie concluded.
Uh oh. Annie wasn’t about to see this one coming.
“Well”, I said. “Maybe you’d like to hear the following…”
“You know Annie, artificial sweeteners remind me of trans fats. You know how trans fats are bad for you, right?
Well long story short, it wasn’t always this way. Even if several researchers emitted serious concerns about trans fats’ safety back in the 1950s, they only got labeled in 2007 in the US. Pretty bad, eh?
So for all those 60 years, people ate trans fat and destroyed their health without even knowing it. Very credible institutions like the CSPI was even part of a group of activists that made the industry replace in the 1980s the saturated fats (lard and beef tallow) used in fast foods for frying for… pure shortening — the biggest source of heart-attack inducing trans fats. (1)
Now back to artificial sweeteners. In the last weeks, the CSPI has downgraded Splenda from its former “safe” category to one of ”caution”. (2) That’s after they analyzed an unpublished study that found Splenda may cause leukemia in mice.
Now Annie, I’m afraid it might get worse…
I’m sure you care about your weight, like everyone else, right?”
“Yes… I’d like to lose a few pounds here and there…”, Annie replied, visibly disturbed by my endless monologue.
“Well, one study published by the Food and Chemical journal of Toxicology showed that only 1.5 tsp. of Splenda — which is
basically pure sucralose — promotes weight gain as much as pure sugar. (3)
But if only that was it. For people that consume up to 5 tsp. of Splenda per day, one other study showed considerable damage to gut flora over time. (4)
And in case you don’t know, your gut flora represents at least 80% of your immune system, but also dictates how 95% of your serotonin — and ultimately your fat loss hormones like growth hormone (GH) will be produced and regulated. (5)
In short, Splenda promotes weight gain and screws up your gut just as much as sugar… if not more.
So if you tell me you add Splenda to everything because you think it supports your goals, I’m sorry to tell you that you’ve been deceived, and that only future will tell if sucralose is an ingredient that’s going to be as damaging as trans fats after more studies come out.
But, don’t worry, there’s hope.
Three 0-calorie sweeteners currently make the cut on my ”super-healthy list”…
Part 2 coming soon…
(5) Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research,
“Mayo Clinic Discovers New Genetic Candidates for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, www.mayoclinic.org/new2010-rst/5754. July 22, 2011.