Personal Training

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Artificial Sweeteners, are they safe?

When we think about artificial sweetners we think of products Splenda, NutraSweet, Equal and others. These are perceived as "natural" because even the FDA claims that "it is made from sugar" — an assertion disputed by the Sugar Association, which is suing Splenda's manufacturer, (McNeil Nutritionals). So when we read "it's made from sugar", then it should be safe because it seems to be from a natural source...right?

The question is what is defined as natural? I guess it depends on perception; for example: Splenda is the trade name for sucralose, a synthetic compound stumbled upon in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation. It is true that the Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar, so it seems to be natural)— except that three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms.

I could get more in depth with all this biochemistry and science behind it, but for the purpose of this article I think it clearly sends the message. You could however Google it and see more for your self.

Now the question, is it safe? The truth is we just don't know yet. (Obviously the Equal and NutraSweet thing we won't even talk about it here, we already know what it does to your body). On the other hand there are no long-term studies of the side effects of Splenda in humans. The manufacturer's own short-term studies showed that sucralose caused shrunken thymus glands and enlarged livers and kidneys in rodents. But in this case, the FDA decided that because these studies weren't based on human test animals, they were not conclusive. Of course, there are countless examples of foods and drugs that have proved dangerous to humans that were first found to be dangerous to laboratory rats, and then again, countless others that have not. So the reality is that we are the guinea pigs for Splenda.

Observational evidence shows that there are side effects of Splenda, including skin rashes/flushing, panic-like agitation, dizziness and numbness, diarrhea, muscle aches, headaches, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, and stomach pain. These show up at one end of the spectrum — in the people who have an allergy or sensitivity to the sucralose molecule. But no one can say to what degree consuming Splenda affects the rest of us.

Why does it affect some people more than others? It is made with some chemicals that are known to be hazards - but the degree to which you experience side effects just depends on your individual biochemistry.

Personally I experienced lots of side effects when I started using it a few years ago, when I was trying to switch from regular sugar. Turns out I didn't need to switch and once I stopped using Splenda I felt great. Yeah it could be me who's messed up in my inside or have a poor tolerance to certain ingredients and chemical compounds. Or maybe long term will show it is dangerous to humans.

Just be careful when you embark on your journey to health and fitness. Get to know your own body and how you react to everything you eat and your endurance. Treat it right and feed it with the proper foods and you should surely see some great results.

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