The Caloric Mistake that DOUBLES Your Risk of Gaining Pounds

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Dr. Mercola discusses the facts about Splenda and why it should be avoided.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Sometimes you just have to sit back and laugh at the absurd methods employed by the food industry to deceive and manipulate you. Take Splenda, for example. Their website now touts three new "improved" versions:

Splenda with:

  1. B vitamins
  2. Antioxidants
  3. Fiber

Of course, they claim these are "three smart new ways to sweeten" your food and drink. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it's sheer unmitigated nonsense!  Splenda (sucralose), which is an artificial sweetener like aspartame, is likely to push your health in the wrong direction, and there's nothing smart about that…

Consuming artificial sweeteners can cause distortions in your biochemistry, and if you drink diet soda in an attempt to lose weight, they won't help you. Instead, most studies looking at this show very clearly that diet soft drinks actually double your obesity risk by stimulating your appetite, increasing carbohydrate cravings, and stimulating fat storage!

Several years ago, I wrote a book called Sweet Deception, in which I expose the many concerns related to the consumption of artificial sweeteners. It's an extremely well-researched book, and it's as valid today as it was when I first wrote it. I spent over three years and had five health care professionals work on it with me, as the maker of Splenda, Johnson & Johnson, had their legal firm write me a 20-page letter threatening to sue me if I published the book.  Needless to say, the book was published and they did not sue me as the information was all true.

Spenda is Not a Zero Calorie Product

Splenda uses a number of misleading tactics to sell their product. For starters, it is actually not a "zero calorie" sweetener.

Sucralose is about 600 times sweeter than sugar, so if it was sold by itself, they wouldn't be able to package it—each packet would contain just a couple of grains, which would be more than plenty to sweeten a cup of coffee. Hence they have to add a bulking agent, such as maltodextrin—which is a sugar!

So, about 99 percent of that packet of Splenda is a type of sugar, and only about one percent is actually sucralose. Each packet has four calories, but because the amount of sugar is less than one gram, they get away with saying it has "no calories" due to a loophole in the labeling law.

However, there's yet another reason why they can make this claim.

Sucralose is a synthetic chemical created in a laboratory. In the five-step patented process of making sucralose, three chlorine molecules are added to one sucrose (sugar) molecule.

Some will argue that natural foods also contain chloride, which is true. However, in natural foods, the chloride is connected with ionic bonds that easily dissociate.. But in Splenda, they're in a covalent bond that does not dissociate. In fact, there are NO covalent chloride bonds to organic compounds in nature—they only exist in synthetic, man-made form. Aside from Splenda, other examples of synthetic covalently bound chloride compounds include:

  • DDT
  • PCB's
  • Agent orange

Now, your body has no enzymes to break down this covalently bound chloride. Why would it? It never existed in nature, so the human body never had a reason to address it. And since it's not broken down and metabolized by your body, they can claim it to be non-caloric—essentially, it's supposed to pass right through you.

However, the research (which is primarily extrapolated from animal studies) indicates that about 15 percent of sucralose IS in fact absorbed into your digestive system, and ultimately stored in your body. This is a significant concern. One 2009 study found unmistakable evidence that Splenda is absorbed by fat, contrary to previous claims. They also discovered other disturbing health problems...

Splenda May Destroy Intestinal Flora

The animal study, published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, found that Splenda:

  • reduced the amount of good intestinal bacteria by 50 percent
  • increased the intestinal pH level, and
  • affected a glycoprotein that can have crucial health effects, particularly if you're on certain medications

James Turner, the chairman of the national consumer education group Citizens for Health, expressed shock and outrage after reading the findings, stating that:

"The report makes it clear that the artificial sweetener Splenda and its key component sucralose pose a threat to the people who consume the product. Hundreds of consumers have complained to us about side effects from using Splenda and this study ... confirms that the chemicals in the little yellow package should carry a big red warning label."

I agree, because anytime you destroy healthy intestinal bacteria you open yourself up to unfriendly micro-organisms that can cause health problems. Your immune system, which is imperative for general health is dependent on healthy gut flora, so the idea that this artificial sweetener may destroy up to half of all your healthy gut bacteria is disconcerting to say the least.

Many people are already deficient in healthy bacteria due to choosing highly processed foods. This is why a high quality probiotic is one of the very few supplements I highly recommend for nearly everyone.

How Diabetics May Be Misled

Artificial sweeteners like Splenda are commonly recommended for diabetics, since sucralose will not influence your blood sugar levels. However, what they fail to realize is that Splenda is not all sucralose… Remember, most of that packet is actually sugar—only about one percent is sucralose!

This may still not seem like a big deal, considering how little is in those packets. But many diabetics will use upwards of 10 packets or more a day, in various drinks and foods, and in high quantities it can have a significant impact in type 1 diabetics.

Safety Studies Sorely Lacking

Splenda is promoted as being a safe, well-researched product, but is it really?

If you look through the research literature, you'll find about 200 studies on Splenda/sucralose, and only about 10 percent of those have anything to do with safety. When I wrote Sweet Deception, there were only 15 studies relating to safety, and 13 of them were funded by the company that makes Splenda, leaving enormous room for conflict of interest!

In 1996, Dr. Ralph G. Walton, a professor of Clinical Psychiatry, reviewed 165 studies on aspartame, and discovered a remarkable discrepancy between study results and their source of funding. Of the 165 studies, 74 had industry related funding and 91 were independently funded.

Of those:

  • 100 percent of the industry funded studies supported aspartame's safety, while
  • 92 percent of the independently funded studies identified at least one potential health concern

However, Dr. Walton also pointed out that of the seven remaining non-industry funded studies, which supported aspartame's safety, six were done by the FDA, and the seventh was a literature review of mostly industry sponsored research. Considering the long-standing revolving door between various industries (especially Monsanto, which acquired G.D. Searle in 1985) and the FDA, it's questionable as to whether an FDA study can be considered truly "independent," even though they were counted as independent in Walton's review. If you give that concern any merit, you'd more or less be looking at 100 percent of industry related studies claiming aspartame to be safe, and 100 percent of independent studies flagging some sort of health concern...

This is truly powerful documentation of the influence of corporately sponsored trials on safety or any other potential complication that can occur!  This type of funding bias is a fatal flaw in the system, because in order to receive FDA approval, the product is not required to undergo any kind of independent study.

So what happens?

Well, we now know that in the drug industry, studies that do not support the drug are simply dismissed or thrown away, and only those reaching a favorable conclusion are presented. And there's nothing to indicate that the same tactics aren't also going on in the food industry.

Another troublesome issue is the fact that there are no long-term studies to evaluate the health effects of chronic exposure to sucralose. When I wrote my book, the longest safety study ever performed had lasted FOUR DAYS, and it looked at sucralose in relation to tooth decay, not human tolerance!

Potential Side Effects of Splenda

Going back to those 15 published safety studies on Splenda, only seven were done on humans. Two of these were published in respected peer-reviewed neurology journals, and they both showed a clear and strong association between the use of Splenda and migraine headaches.  Animal studies have also revealed a number of problems, such as:  

  • Decreased red blood cells -- sign of anemia -- at levels above 1,500 mg/kg/day
  • Increased male infertility by interfering with sperm production and vitality, as well as brain lesions at higher doses
  • Enlarged and calcified kidneys (McNeil stated this is often seen with poorly absorbed substances and was of no toxicological significance. The FDA Final Rule agreed that these are findings that are common in aged female rats and are not significant.)
  • Spontaneous abortions in nearly half the rabbit population given sucralose, compared to zero aborted pregnancies in the control group 
  • A 23 percent death rate in rabbits, compared to a 6 percent death rate in the control group 

With so few studies available, it may be safer to listen to consumer feedback…I've compiled a page on my web site, The Potential Dangers of Sucralose, where you can share your own experiences and side effects, as many others already have. In fact, the first-hand testimonies on this page already outnumber the amount of people included in all of Splenda's safety studies!

The symptoms are so numerous I can't include them all, but the following are common symptoms, usually noticed within a 24-hour period following consumption of a Splenda product:

Skin -- Redness, itching, swelling, blistering, weeping, crusting, rash, eruptions, or hives (itchy bumps or welts Lungs -- Wheezing, tightness, cough, or shortness of breath Head -- Swelling of the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, or throat; headaches and migraines (severe headaches)
Nose -- Stuffy nose, runny nose (clear, thin discharge), sneezing Eyes -- Red (bloodshot), itchy, swollen, or watery Stomach -- Bloating, gas, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or bloody diarrhea
Heart -- Palpitations or fluttering Joints -- Joint pains or aches Neurological -- Anxiety, dizziness, spaced-out sensation, depression

How Dangerous is Splenda?

If you only use it on rare occasions, in all likelihood it is not going to harm you. It's only likely to become an issue if you're using large amounts on a regular basis. Remember, no one knows exactly what the long-term human health ramifications are, as the longest study conducted lasted a mere four days!

This means that you and your family are the guinea pigs when it comes to evaluating long-term safety… And for this reason, I strongly recommend applying the precautionary principle, especially for your children.

The most important principle I want to emphasize here is not so much the specifics of why Splenda is potentially toxic or harmful, but rather I want you to recognize the tactics employed by these companies to manipulate and deceive you. Once you understand the basics of how they manipulate you and distort science to prove their point, then you will know when to exert caution, and when to be skeptical about new products.

Just like the drug industry, many of the sales strategies used in the food industry aim to give you some magic bullet solution that veers from time-honored principles that our ancestors used to stay healthy. Once you know what those principles are, and you're aware of the sales tactics employed, you're in a position to make solid, informed decisions.

Health is really a simple process. By replicating the patterns of our ancestors, we can optimize our health. It's important to realize that our genes do not adapt very quickly to changes in our environment, and the human body simply is not designed to thrive on modern "food-like" substances made of synthetic chemicals not found in nature.

Your body is designed to maintain health, but when you expose it to toxic influences, and deprive it of nutritional support and the basic building blocks it needs to thrive, then you'll begin losing your vitality and veer toward disease and chronic, long-term health complications…

How to Kick the Artificial Sweetener Habit

Your body typically craves sweets when you're denying it the fuel it needs. Sugar (and grain carbs) is very quick fuel and can give your body a boost when it's running low. And contrary to popular belief, using artificial sweeteners does not trick your body into thinking it has had its fill; rather it wants more sweets because it didn't get the energy boost with that sweet taste!

A powerful solution to help curb your cravings is to determine your nutritional type, which will tell you which foods you need to eat to feel full and satisfied. It may sound hard to believe right now, but once you start eating right for your nutritional type, your sweet cravings will disappear. To help you turn your health around, I now offer the full nutritional typing program online for free, so please take advantage of this opportunity to dramatically change your health for the better.

Interestingly, nutrition- and fitness expert Ori Hofmekler recently shared a fascinating benefit of caffeine that can be helpful here. If you like coffee, drinking organic black coffee (meaning without sugar or milk) can help eliminate sugar cravings because the caffeine is an opioid receptor antagonist.

As you may know, sugar binds to the same opioid receptors as cocaine and other addictive substances. But once an opioid receptor antagonist occupies that receptor, it prohibits you from becoming addicted to something else. Therefore, caffeine may attenuate the addictive impact of sugar. There are a few caveats to using this strategy however, including:

  • Only drink organic coffee (as it's one of the most pesticide-heavy crops there are)
  • Drink it black, sans sugar/artificial sweeteners or milk
  • Only drink coffee in the morning, prior to exercise
  • Limit your consumption to one or two cups

In addition to eating right for your nutritional type, I highly recommend addressing the emotional component of your food cravings, using a tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It's one of the most profoundly effective tools I've ever used or researched to help overcome food cravings and reach dietary success. Turbo Tapping is particularly useful if you're addicted to soda. It's an extremely effective and simple tool to get rid of your addiction in a short period of time.

+ Sources and References