Monday, January 04, 2010

How Dangerous Are Splenda and Artificial Sweeteners for Diabetics

There seems to be poor tracking by any formal standards one times a product is approved as a food additive. Despite supposedly tracking adverse reactions, the reality has been different at the FDA. Aspartame is a case in point. Apparent collusion, distorted research reports, lack of funding for independent research, open to doubt practices in tracking adverse reactions and reporting them. It is a ugly sounding story. It is been said that Aspartame is a contract on humanity. Here's one source you might find puts you off Aspartame for nice: - "Reported Aspartame Toxicity Effects".

Are the estimates (in the document above) of the real number of toxic reactions accurate? I am no epidemiologist but what struck me was the large number of serious toxic reactions reported by pilots. My conclusion -- I won't use the stuff. And there's suggestions that the offshoot - Neotame - may be even worse.

Splenda is the latest and greatest. Reportedly manufactured from sugar by substituting 3 chlorine atoms for 3 hydroxyl groups, some claim that the finish product is not what it should be. Apparently if it were made from sugar then when you dissolve it in water (hydrolyze), it ought to produce chlorinated glucose which is a known toxin. In lieu it produces chlorinated monosaccharides.

Everyone much knows the kinds of problems that have been reported with cyclamates and Saccharin. Weirdly - perhaps bad tracking? - the actual dangers still seem unclear after lots of years of use. However, as I read it, they seem to be substantially less toxic than some more recent artificial sweeteners.

Splenda, or sucralose, is a chlorocarbon. Chlorocarbons have an illustrious history, being known for causing organ, reproductive and genetic destroy. Whether sucralose (Splenda) is as safe as the manufacturer claims (which is much what manufacturers always claim) remains to be seen. Here is another reference worth taking a look at: - "Secret Dangers of Splenda".

Andrew Weil, MD has some relevant - and more moderate comments on Aspartame and Splenda here: - "Aspartame: Can a Tiny Bit Hurt". They suggests using the "precautionary" principle - which fundamentally says if there's questions about the safety of a product, don't use it.

At this point, I think it is my head that is spinning. I am uncertain whether Splenda is safe, reasonably safe, slightly dangerous or seriously dangerous. When I looked at the manufacturer's site as well as a couple other sites that were all enthused about Splenda, I didn't see any answers to the points the critics are making. Mostly it is all lightness, sweetness and the miracle of modern science.

Like you I have seen some miracles of modern science turn in to nightmares when the testing wasn't adequate, when the results were fudged, when coverups went on. So questions exist about all the artificial sweeteners. Splenda may be less dangerous than Aspartame (which I sure would not recommend to someone). Long-term and independent studies are lacking. And here's the real kicker:

***** From Consumers' Research Magazine "There is no clear-cut evidence that sugar substitutes are useful in weight reduction. On the contrary, there is some evidence that these substances may stimulate appetite."

Now that tears it. Risk your health using one of these chemicals and then finish up eating more because it stimulates your appetite. Terrific.

More information on alternative sweeteners is in our article: - "Healthier Options to Artificial Sweeteners."

So what options are there? Surprisingly there's a few. One interesting alternative is a South American plant called Stevia. Apparently one times thought about a potential threat to the sugar industry, it seems to have been deep-sixed early in the twentieth century. It's been used as a sweetener for centuries by South American natives. In the U.S., it seems (somehow) to have been kept from being available as an "additive" and the FDA has said not studies have been done. Yet it is widely used by diabetics and in countries such as Japan and Brazil. Stevia is available at health stores as a supplement (though without any indication that it could be used as a sweetener). It is a fascinating story which you can read here: - The Stevia Story

Our bodies evolved as a part of the natural world and though they are changing the world radically (which is only natural, it is what people do after all), our bodies do not evolve and alter at the rate technology changes. And for scientific, political and economic reasons, the quality and thoroughness of evaluations done on newly created products don't match up to our industrial creativity.

Our health is challenged on all sides these days. New chemicals, new additives, genetically engineered foods, highly processed foods, empty calories, stress and pollution all pose threats to our bodies. I have concluded the fewer highly processed, chemically enhanced, questionably assessed, factory created products they ingest, the better off they will probably be.

Finally, balancing the need to lose weight (or maintain an optimum weight) against potential risks creates difficult choices. It is up to you to make the best choice you can for your specific situation -- recall, that elderly saw still holds - Let the buyer beware.

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