May 30, 2014 / by Ann-Marie Giglio / No Comments

For years, Splenda has been one of the top-selling artificial sweeteners that promises to help you maintain a healthy weight because it’s calorie-free.

Well, a study published last year shows sucralose (Splenda®) may have a dirty little secret …

Research published in the May 2013 edition of Diabetes Care shows that drinking even a minimal amount of sucralose may not be so  good for you, even though it’s calorie free.

The study recruited 17 obese individuals who normally did NOT consume artificial sweeteners and did NOT have diabetes. The researchers then conducted the experiment twice.

First, the subjects were given water before given a glucose challenge test (that’s where subjects are given sugar, and then their blood is tested to see how their body responds). Then, the next time the participants came in, they were given sucralose (Splenda®) to drink instead of water before the glucose challenge test.

The results were that their bodies reacted to sucralose in a similar way as to sugar.  According to the study’s lead author, M.Yanina Pepino, PhD: “Insulin levels also rose about 20 percent higher [with sucralose]. So the artificial sweetener was related to an enhanced blood insulin and glucose response.” [1]

Why are these results so shocking?

For two reasons.

First, the assumption has been that sugar-replacements acted differently in the body than sugar.  But in fact, the sucralose sets the same stage as sugar for developing Type 2 Diabetes, especially if you use the substitute frequently because when your body routinely secretes more insulin than it needs to, it become insulin-resistant.

Second, it’s alarming because most people have been under the impression that calorie-free sweeteners are “okay” since they won’t add to your waistline. But even though they won’t add to your calorie count and your body-fat content, too much can be just as damaging as too much sugar to your overall health.

An opinion paper in the July 2013 edition of Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism reviewed a number of studies and found that drinking artificially-sweetened beverages can be just as bad as drinking sugary drinks. “They pose the same risk for type-2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, stroke and even heart-disease. Worse yet, just one artificially-sweetened drink is enough to significantly raise your risk for getting the bad health effects.” [2]
So what can you do?The best thing is to stick to drinking water. Like our ancestors.  Add mint or lemon or lime or cucumbers or strawberries—any fruit or veggie you like.  It tastes great.

But if you need a little more variety try unsweetened tea. This is also a tasty way to add some “flavor” without sugar or plenty of calories. Tea comes in all sorts of flavors. There are also fruit “tisanes” which you can brew like tea.

So now you know Splenda’s®  “dirty little secret.”  Avoid it if you can–along with other fake sweeteners. And follow the tips here to keep things interesting in the beverage department, while still keeping your health in first place. Your body will thank you!

References:
[1] M. Y. Pepino, C. D. Tiemann, B. W. Patterson, B. M. Wice, S. Klein. Sucralose
Affects Glycemic and Hormonal Responses to an Oral Glucose Load. Diabetes Care, 2013; DOI: 10.2337/dc12-2221

[2] Swithers, Susan “Artificial sweeteners produce the counter intuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangement’s” Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 11 July 2013