I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.
We’ve all been told at one time or another that there’s no such thing as a silly question. If you’re a parent or a teacher you’ve probably even made that remark yourself. Asking for more information when you don’t understand something is the key to learning.
I have to keep this truism in mind whenever I am asked about the safety of low-calorie sweeteners, such as sucralose (the no-calorie sweetener used, for example, in SPLENDA® Sweetener products). That’s because to me, the answer is simple. I know that low-calorie sweeteners are among the most thoroughly tested, and continually tested, ingredients in the food supply, but everyone else doesn’t know this. And based on all of the available research, they are approved in the US by the FDA for people of all ages.
Since I still get questions from people about whether there are any dangers or side effects from using SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose), I decided to answer them here for the benefit of all of my readers – especially those who may have thought it was a silly question to ask.
Does Sucralose Cause Digestive Problems?
Digestive problems such as bloating and gas are often due to undigested material passing through the gut, which is then fermented by the friendly bacteria residing there. This does not happen with sucralose, the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. Just as sucralose is not fermented by the bacteria in the mouth (so it does not contribute to tooth decay), it is not fermented by the bacteria in the gut either, so it won’t produce gas and bloating.
People who do experience discomfort after eating foods or drinks sweetened with sucralose are advised to check the food label to see if other ingredients might be the cause. Sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol and mannitol (which are not found in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products), can be a trigger if too much is eaten; the same applies to synthetic fibers, such as inulin and chicory root.
What Happens to Sucralose after It Enters Our Bodies?
Sucralose is water soluble and it does not accumulate in the body and is not broken down for energy - so it has no calories. About 85% of the sucralose we consume is excreted in our stool unchanged, while the remaining 15% is passively absorbed then excreted quickly in the urine. It is eliminated rapidly from the body with no tendency for increased plasma concentrations with continued consumption (or use). More on how the body processes sucralose: https://blog.splenda.com/how-splenda-no-calorie-sweetener-can-be-calorie-free.
How is Sucralose Used by the Body?
Sucralose is not metabolized for energy in mammals, so it provides us with no calories. It also is not recognized as a carbohydrate, so does not affect our blood glucose levels or insulin requirements. In studies where high doses were given to people with and without diabetes, it did not affect glucose control both when subjects were fasted or following a meal. And when given repeatedly over time, it did not raise A1C levels (a longer term measure of average blood glucose). The primary effect sucralose has on us is the experience of a sweet taste when we eat or drink something sweetened with it.
Enjoy SPLENDA® Sweeteners as Part of a Balanced Diet
Foods sweetened with sucralose can be a great addition to a balanced healthy diet. If you have a problem after eating or drinking something sweetened with it, it's important to not jump to conclusions. By taking a look at the entire situation you may realize something else is responsible for the way you feel. Maybe you ate too fast or had too much to eat and drink or didn’t have a well-balanced meal. Making some changes in your usual eating habits may be all that is needed to help you feel better.
When people eat the right variety of foods in the right amounts to meet their nutritional needs, and get enough physical activity to maintain a healthy body weight, they tend to feel great! It all comes down to maintaining a healthy lifestyle so you can look and feel your best. Foods sweetened with sucralose are one tool to help you manage your calories from sugar, which might be an important tool for some of us on the road to better eating.
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating again.
For more information:
- SPLENDA®: New Review of Studies on Low Calorie Sweeteners Finds Positive Impact on Weight Loss, Waist Size and Body Fat
- Sucralose: A Scientific and Safety Review http://www.SPLENDA®professional.com/sites/default/files/common/Sucralose_Study.pdf
- Grice HC, Goldsmith LA. Sucralose: an overview of the toxicity data. Food Chem Tox. 2000;38(S2):S1-S6.
- Sims J, Roberts A, Daniel JW, Renwick AG. The metabolic fate of sucralose in rats. Food Chem Tox. 2000;38(S2):S115-S121.
- Mezitis NH, Maggio CA, Koch P, Quddoos A, Allison DB, Pi-Sunyer FX. Glycemic effect of a single high oral dose of the novel sweetener sucralose in patients with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 1996;19:1004-1005.
- Grotz VL, Henry RR, McGill JB, et al. Lack of effect of sucralose on glucose homeostasis in subjects with type 2 diabetes. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003;103:1607-1612.
- Sucralose Food Additive Petition 7A3987. August 16, 1996;1:1-357, on file: Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), U.S. Food and Drug Administration.