There is much debate about whether sucralose, sold under the trade name of Splenda, is safe and the debate continues. Here are some of the facts about the artificial sweetener.
What is Splenda (sucralose)?
Sucralose is a man-made substance. Scientists who were searching for an alternative method of producing pesticides discovered it in 1976. We have all heard Splenda’s slogan “tastes like sugar because it’s made from sugar” and those of us looking to lose or maintain our weight flock to it because it has no sugar, carbs or calories. Looking deeper into that claim, however, you find that it is only semi true and this is where the debate and controversy come in.
While sucralose certainly starts as natural sugar (sucrose) the unique process that it goes through involves changing its chemistry make up, eventually includes three chlorine atoms. This causes some experts to claim that sucralose is closer to a pesticide than it is to sugar, while others insist that it is similar to sugar or table salt.
How Does it Effect the Body?
The body is designed to metabolize natural food for energy. Consider that sucralose is not a natural substance it is not metabolized, broken down or digested in the body (with the rare exceptions). When we consume actual food, our bodies recognize these substances as nourishment and immediately begin to metabolize and break them down--that is not the case with sucralose. The body does not recognize the substance and rejects it, thus it has no calories or carbs and no effect on blood sugar levels.
There is always an exception to the rule and ironically, those with healthier than average digestive systems may be more at risk for negative effects of sucralose. However, some individuals with extremely healthy digestive systems do digest sucralose and experts say at this point, the body is digesting poison due to the chlorine compounds.
Are There any Side Effects?
With little research performed on the side effects of sucralose, a conclusive answer to that question is nearly impossible. From the short-term studies conducted only on rodents, some of the serious side effects noted included enlarged livers and kidney disorders. These tests were conducted on rats and therefore dismissed by the FDA as inconclusive because they were not conducted on humans.
Other side effects reported by consumers include migraines, skin rashes and agitation bordering on panic, stomach pain, dizziness and issues with the bladder. These show up in those that have an allergy to sucralose.