Splenda - Does more harm than good???

splenda-artificial sweetenersThe first thing that I was advised to do when I started my weight-loss program was to reduce my intake of calories, and the most obvious thing to avoid was "Sugar". As sugar is a very essential part of my diet, ( read tea/coffee, desserts and other day-to-day foods here!), I had to find an alternative for sugar, and thus decided to go for artificial sweeteners like Splenda. But as I learned more about it, I noticed that its not the perfect solution, and indeed has a lot of controversies attached to it! Recently, a lot of people advised me to stop using Splenda saying it's carcinogenic and has other side effects. So what's the truth behind it? And is it really worth it to substitute sugar for artificial sweeteners??

Splenda is basically a combination of three ingredients--sucralose, dextrose, and maltodextrin. Dextrose is a sweetener, while Maltodextrin is a solids builder and drying agent. Neither of them is known to have any side effects, except for some allergic reactions in persons with allergies to corn or wheat. Sucralose is a chlorinated sucrose derivative used as an artificial sweetener, and with rising concerns about the use of Sachharine (found in Equal and NutraSweet), people gladly embraced Splenda as the new sugar-alternative. As its made from sugar residue, it tastes exactly like sugar, and can be used in the same proportions without contributing to any caloric value. It was like a boon for weight-watchers and diabetic patients, and until recently, it ruled the market for artificial sweetners.

However, there's more to this small yellow sachet than what meets the eye. Research has shown that Splenda, which struggled with FDA approval (approval received in April 1998) as it wasn't adequately tested on humans, is suspected to be toxic and carcinogenic. It is said that Sucralose breaks down into 1,6-dichlorofructose, which is toxic and can lead to shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage) and enlarged liver and kidneys, Atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus Increased cecal weight Reduced growth rate Decreased red blood cell count Hyperplasia of the pelvis Extension of the pregnancy period Aborted pregnancy Decreased fetal body weights and placental weights Diarrhoea. However, it is important to consider that all this research was done on animals, not humans.

A lot of people have observed other side effects of Splenda, including skinrashes/flushing, panic-like agitation, dizziness and numbness, diarrhea, muscle aches, headaches, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, and stomach pain. These show up at one end of the spectrum — in the people who have an allergy or sensitivity to the sucralose molecule. Some of the chemicals that reside in such sweeteners have been stated as hazardous — but the degree to which you experience side effects just depends on your individual biochemistry. Manufacturers are banking on the fact that our bodies won’t absorb very much of these compounds at any one time, which may be true, but with increasing craze about low-calorie and "sugar-free" products, how much of an intake can we avoid??

On the other hand, there are ample pages that endorse this product and deem it to be safe for human consumtion. But the question remains, is this a gamble worth betting for?? I agree, for many people, especially those suffering from Diabetes, sugar is totally restricted, and they are forced to turn to artificial sweeteners as an alternative. But if you already suffer from weight gain, diabetes, inflammation, chronic pain, migraines, headaches, or depression, it means you may have sugar intolerance, in which case, you should eliminate sugar entirely from your diet, or opt for healthier choices like honey, rice syrup, molasses, and maple syrup.

I am neither a doctor nor a nutritionist, but I am a woman who tries to choose what's healthy for myself and my family. And I ask myself, isn't it better to reduce my sugar intake to half and get used to eating less sweet stuff than going for these alternatives which could be carcinogenic or hazardous to my body? Ask yourself the same question, and trust your heart and mind to give you the right answer! Make sure you weigh the good and bad of Splenda before you decide anything!

I think I have made my decision and will revert back to Sugar and Honey, but in a restricted amount. Its best to avoid artificial sweeteners like Splenda or Aspartame, especially when we have ample natural sources to consider! And if you still have trouble deciding, make sure to consult a family physician, and pray to lord he knows the truth himself!

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The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I tried Splenda for a while and it gave me terrible reflux issues. If I want a sweetener I stick with Equal or old-fashioned sugar (I like the substitutes in things like tea and coffe because they dissolve better).

SonyER said...

Hey Mansi,

Just wanted to let you know and also mentioned to Bhavin, that i really like your style of writing and enjoy the articiles.

Hope we didnt scare Bhavin for you to write this article:-)

Looking forward for more interesting articles

Anonymous said...

Hi There,

In USA, I never heard, from food exports, any side effects of Splenda. Where you found those? Please do write about it so that I could know which are the side effects of Splenda.

Thanks for awaring people.

Mansi said...

Hi there! in the article, I have listed some links, which take you to the sources that describe about the research and potential harmful effects of using any artificial sweeteners. Please click on those links and you can get more information.

Its always good to use less sugar instead of sweeteners, unless you are diabetic! thanks for visiting my site; hope you find it useful!