I like telling this true story since my wife is from India, and because the “discovery” of Splenda originates back to London in 1975 and a young Indian student who was doing graduate work in chemistry while studying insecticides.
The young fellow was helping on a project of looking for ways to kill insects, when one day he mis-understood the instructions from his boss, who said to be sure to “test” his efforts. He thought the instructions were to “taste” the product, and when he did as told, imagine the surprise when he reported that this highly toxic liquid was 600 times sweeter than plain old sugar.
This synthetic chemical was later to become known as sucralose (Splenda) and eventually approved for human consumption by our ever-so-diligent FDA (Food and Drug Administration) on April 1, 1998 – April Fools Day.
Splenda is the brand name for sucralose and should not to be confused with the naturally found sucrose which is extracted from plants as ordinary sugar. Sucralose begins as a sugar molecule but is chemically changed to a synthetic that includes the addition of three, highly poisonous chlorine molecules in a patented, five step process. It is then marketed as a “healthful” and “natural” product, although as a chemical substance, it is not recognized as sugar by the body. It is therefore not metabolized, which is necessary step for the maintenance of life.
Although we find sucralose in many manufactured products, it cannot be sold to individual consumers and is available only in quantities of no less than one kilogram at a cost of approximately $450 per kilogram.
Making matters even worse, Splenda is marketed as having zero calories by McNeil Nutritionals, which is a division of Johnson & Johnson. It is not true that there are zero calories – stay with me here – since it is only that if your body had the capacity to metabolize this chemical substance, it would then have “zero” calories.
The real deception comes now: Splenda® No Calorie Sweetener is specifically marketed as “suitable for people with diabetes” (read their “Nutritional Facts” label), as it will not raise blood sugar levels. The unsuspecting public is misled once again because of a manufacturing process that begins with only one (1) percent sucralose (remember 600 x sweeter than sugar), which is then mixed with bulking agents like dextrose, sucrose, and maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is just another form of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
According to the book “Sweet Deception” by Dr. Joseph Mercola, we need to thank the FDA for food labeling laws and the blatant deception in allowing Splenda to be defined as “sugar-free” – - but note that it is ONLY if the serving size is LESS THAN .5 grams of sugar. And it is “calorie-free” if the serving size is LESS THAN 5 calories. A 1-gram packet of Splenda coincidently contains just 4 calories which very conveniently fits their legal definition of “calorie-free”.
Meanwhile, HFCS is twenty times sweeter than cane sugar (and cheaper) and is now almost the exclusive caloric sweetener used in the soft drink industry. Dr. Mercola believes HFCS plays a very significant role in the obesity epidemic, and it is also these “bulking agents” that make the sweeteners more palatable and easy to bake with. Imagine whipping up a batch of brownies using one cup of Splenda No Calorie Sweetener, only to later read that the cup contained 96 calories and 32 grams of carbohydrates. Sort of makes your blood sugar rise just thinking about it.
You my by now be asking if Splenda as safe as they claim it to be? I unfortunately do not have the time or space to discuss the very limited amount of known testing although it is important to mention that Splenda is a food additive and not a drug, and thus not subject to the more rigorous number of studies required to receive FDA approval. Which brings to mind the prescription drug Vioxx that was subjected to a much, much greater number of clinical trials under the watchful eyes of the FDA, and yet was found to have killed some 55,000 people prior to “voluntary withdrawal” by Merck & Co.
Nearly all testing appears to have been done on animals and there have been no long-term toxicity studies published until after the FDA-approved sucralose for human consumption eleven years ago – a test which lasted only three (3) months. There are no known tests on pregnant women or children and it appears the very large majority of testing has been conducted in-house by McNeil Nutritionals. Some people might call that a conflict of interest.
And lastly a few words for a few of the reported side affects from this wonderful product:
* Reduced growth rate in newborn and adult rats
* Decreased red blood cells in mice (anemia)
* Increased cataracts in male rats at 3% of the diet
* Abnormal liver cells in rats
* Enlarged liver and brain at .3% in female and 3% in male rats
* Shrunken ovaries in rats at 1% and 3%
* Enlarged and calcified kidneys in rats
If you think Splenda is affecting you or a family member, it is relatively easy to test by first completely eliminating it and other artificial sweeteners from your diet for one to two weeks. After that period, simply re-introduce it in sufficient quantity while avoiding other artificial sweeteners for two to three days. And be sure to take note of how your body is feeling, particularly if it feels different than when you were free of artificial sweeteners. Sweet dreams.