Is Splenda really that bad for you?

“Splenda” is the brand name for sucralose – one of the five nonnutritive sweeteners that FDA has approved.  The other four are aspartame, neotame, acesulfame potassium, and saccharin.  Read on to find out if sucralose is “really that bad for you.”

Sucralose’s “ADI”

All of the nonnutritive sweeteners have estimated dietary intakes (the amount that scientists believe humans are consuming per day) that are lower than the “ADI,” which is the Acceptable Daily Intake (the amount that one can consume over the course of his or her life that poses no risk).

The structure of sucralose…

Sucralose is considered “600x sweeter than sucrose.”  Sucrose is regular sugar.  The reason why sucralose is sweeter is because it is produced by altering a regular sugar molecule.  Here’s the fun organic part: if you substitute 3 hydroxyl groups in sucrose for chloride atoms then you get sucralose.

Is there any harm in having sucralose?

Sucralose produces zero “glycemic response,” which is the response our bodies produce after eating any sort of sugar.  The sweetener does not produce cavities and is passed completely through the body without absorption since the body does not recognize the chloride atoms on sucralose.  Any of the chloride atoms that do get absorbed are passed through the kidney.

How do I know for sure?

The FDA is responsible for approving the safety of all food and food additives in the United States.  The questions that are asked in order to determine whether or not a product can be deemed safe are:

(1)    How is the product made?

(2)    What are the product specifications?

(3)    How much will the public be consuming of the product and will certain groups be susceptible to it?

(4)    Is the sweetener safe and will it pose risk to the person during his or her lifetime and/or to his or her offspring?

The ADI was developed to reflect an amount 100 times less than the maximal level at which no observed effect occurs in animals (or rare human) studies.  Thus, the consumption of FDA-approved nonnutritive sweeteners, including Splenda, is considered safe.

Since animals have been used versus humans to ascertain these answers, it is hard for people to feel assured that these nonnutritive sweeteners are “really” safe.  However, according to the FDA, the amount that a human can possibly consume in one day (even if all meals consisted of Splenda-infused goodness) would be much less than that given to animals.  In the studies, we see that all of the sucralose consumed is excreted in the urine and feces, thus we can say that there is a good indication that sucralose does not seem to undergo any severe chemical reactions in the body.

Would I recommend Splenda?

Yes – I do recommend Splenda to those with diabetes, insulin resistance and those watching their weight since they can be used to increase the palatability of many different foods for those conditions.  For a person who is not looking to decrease weight or avoid sugar, I would probably not recommend Splenda to them.

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