It’s early in the morning, and you need your coffee fix to get you through the day. You pull into your local Tim Horton’s or Dunkin’ Donuts and order the usual medium coffee with cream and Splenda, not batting an eye at what is being added to your delicious drink. The little yellow packets may seem a good alternative to sugar, especially for those on strict calorie counting diets.
Splenda, also known as sucralose, is a no-calorie non-carbohydrate sweetener. After you eat or drink Splenda, it passes through your body without being broken down for energy, so your body does not recognize it as a carbohydrate. You may not think anything is wrong with what you’re drinking, but guess again.
A 1998 report by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that sucralose caused minor genetic damage in mouse cells. In 2013, the Center for Science in the Public Interest downgraded its safety rating from “safe” to “caution.” Splenda is created in the lab and contains dozens of chemicals including chlorine, a known carcinogen.
An article found on Mercola.com examines the health implications of Splenda. The study showed that sucralose reduced the amount of good bacteria in the intestines by 50 percent as well as increased pH levels and contributed to increases in body weight. P-glycoprotein (P-gp) levels were also affected in a way that health-related drugs could be rejected. The P-gp effect could result in medications used in chemotherapy, AIDS treatment, and treatments for heart conditions not being absorbed by the body. Grist.org reports that Splenda has also been known to cause seizures and can contribute to type 2 diabetes, just like regular sugar.
Not only is Splenda bad for your body, but it is also bad for the environment.
Since 90% of Splenda cannot be absorbed by the body and is excreted out, it is accumulating in the groundwater. Due to its chemical properties, Splenda cannot be broken down in the wastewater treatment process. According to an article on Grist.org, the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University found that the amount of sucralose in groundwater wasn’t lower after 50 days of monitoring. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency identifies sucralose as a “contaminant of emerging concern,” yet the FDA does not require an Environmental Impact Statement for it.
According to Discoverynews.com, a set of experiments looked at the effects of chlorine, ozone, and ultraviolet light on the sucralose. These three methods are used in the final stages of wastewater treatment and none proved effective in breaking down sucralose. Although the presence of sucralose in the environment has the short-term potential to change organisms’ feeding behaviors, interfere with plant photosynthesis and causes algae problems, the long-term effects of this sugar-like chemical on the environment are unknown.
Next time you reach for the little yellow packet, remember: Splenda has known adverse effects on bodily functions and has accumulated in large amounts in our groundwater. Think twice before ordering your medium coffee with cream and Splenda. Though it may save on calories and carbohydrates, replace it with regular sugar to prevent the potential harmful effects of artificial sweetener.