Are artificial sweeteners such as Splenda still part of your daily diet? If so, I would strongly recommend reconsidering. It's important to realize that while artificial sweeteners have no (or very few) calories, they are still metabolically active,1 and not in a beneficial way.
For example, research2,3 published in the online version of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health August 21, 2018, shows sucralose — sold under brand names such as Splenda, Splenda Zero, Zero-Cal, Sukrana, Apriva, SucraPlus, Candys, Cukren and Nevella — is metabolized and accumulates in fat cells.
Remarkably, artificial sweeteners have become so ubiquitous, research4 published in the April 2019 issue of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety refers to them as an "emerging" environmental contaminant, noting they have "high water persistence."
According to this paper, artificial sweeteners are chemically stable in the environment and water supplies appear to be at greatest risk for contamination. The researchers looked at 24 environmental studies assessing the presence of artificial sweeteners in the environment from 38 locations around the world, including Europe, Canada, the U.S. and Asia.
"Overall, the quantitative findings suggested that the occurrence of non-nutritive artificial sweeteners is present in surface water, tap water, groundwater, seawater, lakes and atmosphere," the paper states. What the ultimate ramifications for wildlife, especially marine life, and human health might be are still anyone's guess.
Artificial Sweeteners Promote Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
As explained in the 2016 paper,5 "Metabolic Effects of Non-Nutritive Sweeteners," many studies have linked artificial sweeteners to an increased risk for obesity, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. This is in stark contrast to what you're told by industry, which continues to promote artificial sweeteners as a way to lower your risk of those conditions.
The paper presents several mechanisms by which artificial sweeteners promote metabolic dysfunction:
1. They interfere with learned responses that contribute to glucose control and energy homeostasis — Studies have demonstrated that when sweet taste and caloric intake are mismatched, your body loses its ability to properly regulate your blood sugar.
2. They interact with sweet-taste receptors expressed in digestive system that play a role in glucose absorption and trigger insulin secretion, thereby inducing both glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, which raises your risk of obesity. Sweet taste without calories also increases appetite6 and subjective hunger ratings.7
3. They destroy your gut microbiota — A 2008 study8 revealed sucralose (Splenda) reduced gut bacteria by as much as 49.8%, preferentially targeting bacteria known to have important human health benefits. Consuming as few as seven little Splenda packets may be enough to have a detrimental effect on your gut microbiome.
More recent research,9 published in the journal Molecules in October 2018, confirmed and expanded these findings, showing that all currently approved artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame and acesulfame potassium-k) disrupt the gut microbiome — in part by damaging the bacteria's DNA, and in part by interfering with their normal activities.
Another 201810 found Splenda consumption may exacerbate gut inflammation and intensify symptoms in people with Crohn's disease by promoting harmful gut bacteria. These results echoed those published in 2014,11 where they found Splenda may exacerbate symptoms of Crohn's disease by augmenting "inflammatory activity at the biochemical level" and altering microbial-host interactions within the intestinal mucosa.
Similarly, research12 published in 2017 implicated sucralose in chronic liver inflammation by altering "the developmental dynamics of the gut microbiome."
Why You Should Never Cook With Splenda
Splenda (sucralose) is frequently recommended for cooking and baking,13 and is often used in processed foods in which high heat was involved. This, despite the fact that scientists have warned about the dangers of heating sucralose for years.
In the 2013 paper,14 "Sucralose, a Synthetic Organochloride Sweetener: Overview of Biological Issues," the authors state that "Cooking with sucralose at high temperatures … generates chloropropanols, a potentially toxic class of compounds." This paper also warns the acceptable daily intake set for sucralose may in fact be hundreds of times too high to ensure safety.
The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recently issued a report15 on the available data on sucralose, confirming that cooking with sucralose is likely a terrible idea, as chlorinated compounds are formed at high temperatures. As reported by MedicalXpress:16
"When sucralose (E 955) is heated to temperatures higher than 120 degrees C a gradual — and with further continuously increasing temperature — decomposition and dechlorination of the sweetener occurs.
Temperatures of between 120 degrees C [248 degrees Fahrenheit] and 150 degrees C [302 degrees F] are possible during industrial manufacturing and processing of foods, and are also reached in private households during cooking and baking of foods containing sucralose.
This may lead to the formation of chlorinated organic compounds with a health-damaging potential, such as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD), dibenzofurans (PCDF) and chloropropanols."
Chloropropanols, while still poorly understood, are believed to have adverse effects on your kidneys and may have carcinogenic effects.17 One good reason to be suspicious of chloropropanols is because they're part of a class of toxins known as dioxins, and dioxins are known to cause cancer and endocrine disruption.
The fact that sucralose creates toxic dioxins when heated is also a concern for those who use vaping liquid containing this artificial sweetener. A 2017 study18 found sucralose contributes sweet taste only when used in a cartridge system, and chemical analysis showed the use of a cartridge system also raised the concentration of sucralose in the aerosol.
I find it interesting that these studies are now confirming what I suspected and published in my book, published over 10 years ago — "Sweet Deception" — which was an expose on Splenda.