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Titan Nutrition

 

The truth behind sucralose, splenda, stevia, xylitol… and your health

by george

15 Mar, 2013

 

Just recently there has been a resurgence of interest in the safety of non-nutritive sweeteners used in food.

Most of this interest has been the energetic maligning of sucralose and the American Splenda brand of the same substance. There is even a suggestion that a conspiracy lies at the heart of the artificial sweetener industry.

We have also seen the simultaneous trumpeting of alternatives such as Stevia as a ‘natural’ alternative. Some of the old, and well-worn concerns regarding sucralose have predictably centred on the modification of the sucrose molecule with chlorine at the atomic level. As suggested, these are concerns that were thoroughly answered by Tate and Lyle, the inventors and manufacturers, many years ago.

By and large, low-calorie and calorie-free sweeteners are incredibly safe and when subjected to normal use have less than vanishing low impacts on human physiology.

The majority of claims against them (Aspartame was a fashionable victim 3 or 4 years ago) are based on anecdotal evidence proposed by individuals or interest groups of various sorts.

In many cases, the claims have often turned out to have been centered around blame seeking for pre-existing conditions or were based on massive amounts of the substance being administrated to lab animals; purported studies such as these are usually rejected by responsible regulatory agencies as being biased, unreliable or generally spurious.

As a rule, the ‘findings’ of such interest groups sanctioned research must be considered questionable as they cannot be compared with the normal application of the substance in question over an extended period of time: they are intentionally toxic due to invariably being many thousands of times higher than normal.

We’ll deal with Sucralose first as it seems to bear the brunt of the current disinformational assault. Here’s an FAQ synopsis on the substance:

Sucralose.

What is sucralose?

Sucralose is a no-calorie, high quality sweetener that is made from sugar and tastes like sugar. It is approximately 600 times sweeter than sugar.

What’s the difference between SPLENDA® and sucralose?

SPLENDA® is the brand name for the sweetening ingredient sucralose. Sucralose is the generic or common name.

How was sucralose discovered?  Who discovered it?  Where was it discovered?  When?

Sucralose was discovered in 1976 as the result of a joint sweetener research project conducted by Tate & Lyle and Queen Elizabeth College in London, UK.  The scientists, who were investigating the structure-taste relationship of the sugar molecule, discovered that by modifying the structure of sugar in a certain way they could intensify the sweet taste of sugar whilst at the same time making it non-caloric.

How is sucralose made?

Sucralose is made through a patented, multi-step process that starts with sugar and selectively replaces three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms.  The result is an exceptionally stable sweetener that tastes like sugar, but without sugar’s calories.

Is sucralose a natural sweetener?

No. Sucralose is not a natural product – it is not found in nature. Although sucralose is made from sugar, the sugar molecule is chemically modified to make sucralose which is classed as an artificial sweetener.

How many calories does sucralose have?

Sucralose is not metabolized for energy in the body so it has no (zero) calories.

Exactly how sweet is sucralose?

Sucralose is, on average, about 600 times sweeter than sugar and thus only very small amounts are required to sweeten foods and beverages. For example, a standard 12-ounce can of diet soda would require only 70 milligrams (0.07g) of sucralose compared to a full-calorie version that would typically contain about 40g of sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

In what sort of foods and beverages do manufacturers use sucralose?

Sucralose is extremely versatile.  Already it is being used in most food and drinks, including dairy deserts, baked goods, chewing gum, ice cream, and low carbohydrate snacks.  It can be used in foods where some other sweeteners cannot.  The fact that it remains sweet under high/intense heat and during long-term storage, coupled with its great sugar-like taste means sucralose is used in a vast range of reduced-calorie foods and beverages.

What are the benefits of sucralose?

Sucralose is made from sugar and has a great sugar-like taste.  It is also extremely versatile and can be used to replace caloric sweeteners such as sugar and high fructose corn syrup in most foods and drinks.  Sucralose retains its sweetness for longer including during cooking and baking.

For some great tasting recipes that you can try at home, please visit www.splenda.com

Sucralose Safety

Is sucralose safe?

Sucralose is safe.  This is the view of every regulatory agency that has reviewed the scientific research on the ingredient.

Were tests conducted on humans?  Have there been any negative reactions reported?

Since its introduction over a decade ago, millions of people have safely enjoyed foods and beverages sweetened with sucralose. It is conclusively tested and its safety has been confirmed by regulatory authorities representing more than 80 countries worldwide.

An extensive database of scientific research demonstrates sucralose has no harmful effects and is safe for all consumers, including sensitive populations like diabetics, children and pregnant women. Sucralose requires no warning labels or health information statements.

How is sucralose metabolized in the body?  How long does it take to break down in the body?

Sucralose enters and leaves the body as sucralose.  It is not broken down in the body and does not provide any calories.

What will the long-term effects of sucralose consumption be?

Sucralose is safe.  There will be no ill effects as a result of long-term sucralose consumption.  Specific testing, both in animals and man, has been conducted to assure us of that.  This is why over 80 countries around the world, including the UK and the US, have approved sucralose for human consumption.

How does sucralose interact with other foods/food ingredients/drugs?

Because sucralose will be used in so many different foods, potential interactions have been thoroughly investigated. These studies have shown that sucralose is an inert, nonreactive ingredient that does not interact with other food ingredients or drugs.

Was sucralose thoroughly tested?

Yes.  Sucralose was tested to the satisfaction of every regulatory authority that has reviewed the data from the safety studies. Regulatory authorities worldwide have agreed and permitted sucralose to be used as a sweetener, without the need for any special warning labels of health information statements.

How was the safety of sucralose determined?

Regulatory authorities globally have very specific requirements in terms of scientific studies to demonstrate safety of new food ingredients, including sweeteners.  Sucralose underwent all of the required scientific studies and the data has been reviewed by scientific experts representing regulatory authorities around the world. Every regulatory authority that has reviewed the safety data on sucralose has concluded that sucralose is safe for human consumption.

What happens to sucralose in the body?

Although sucralose is made from sugar, the body does not recognize it as sugar or a carbohydrate. It is not metabolized by the body for energy, so it is calorie-free. The vast majority of ingested sucralose is not absorbed and simply passes through the digestive system. The small amount of sucralose that is absorbed is rapidly eliminated in urine as sucralose.

Can diabetics consume sucralose?

Yes. Numerous studies have shown that sucralose is suitable for people with diabetes. Sucralose is not recognized by the body as sugar or as a carbohydrate. It is not metabolized by the body for energy and does not affect blood glucose levels. Sucralose has no effect on carbohydrate metabolism or insulin secretion and is therefore suitable for diabetics. For more information please visit The American Diabetes Association Web site www.diabetes.org and the SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Web site, http://www.splenda.com (See: Living with Diabetes section).

Doesn’t sucralose contain chlorine?

Yes the sucralose molecule contains three atoms of chlorine, and this is the key to how we intensify the sweetness of sugar and remove the calories.

There is no cause for concern about the safety of sucralose due to the presence of chlorine.  In the case of sucralose, the addition of chlorine atoms converts sucrose (sugar) to sucralose, which is an inert, unreactive substance.  The chlorine in sucralose does not separate in the body, nor does sucralose accumulate in the body.  In fact, it is the presence of these chlorine atoms that prevent sucralose from being broken down in the body for energy, thus, making sucralose non-caloric.

Is the chlorine in sucralose safe?

Absolutely.  This is why every regulatory authority which has reviewed the scientific data on sucralose has approved it for use as a food ingredient.
Chlorine is used to modify the structure of the sugar molecule and produce sucralose and is really the key to how the sweetness of sugar is intensified while at the same time retaining the taste of sugar and rendering it non-caloric.  There is absolutely no cause for concern about the safety of sucralose due to the presence of chlorine.  In the case of sucralose, the addition of chlorine atoms converts sugar to sucralose, which is an inert, nonreactive substance.  The chlorine in sucralose does not separate in the body, nor does sucralose accumulate in the body.

Is the chlorine in sucralose released in the body?

No, sucralose does not break down in the body.  It is not affected by the body’s digestive processes. The chlorine in sucralose does not separate in the body, nor does sucralose accumulate in the body.  Only a small proportion of the sucralose that is consumed is actually absorbed and that is quickly eliminated as sucralose in the body wastes. The majority of ingested sucralose just passes through the digestive system unchanged.

Stevia.

Regarding stevia (a flowering herb), it is a pleasant sweetener and is used quite widely thesedays but in extremely confined applications. Its use in manufacturing requires a few considerations and creates a number of possible pitfalls that need to be avoided. As a result, it is best used as a concomitant additive (in blends) – that is with other sweeteners. The reasons for this is that despite the excellent taste profile of steviosides in general, it’s consumption in normal lifestyle amounts has been reliably linked to predictable side-effects in a number of users. These include hypoallergic reactions to steviosides (these reactions are typical of the stevia flower and include other flowers in related families such as daisies and chrysanthemums). Anaphylaxis, a progressive result of allergic reaction is a life-threatening condition and is a possibility with exposure to stevia in prone users. And remember, we are talking about “lifestyle” quantities (e.g. the standardised single serving test for a 300x additive of 0.015625g or 15mg dissolved in water) and not-super inordinate quantities such as those that have been used in testing products such as sucralose. The other concerning issue with stevia is its retardant effect on the excretion of certain medications, in particular lithium, resulting in a serum increase of active lithium metabolites. This happens with all patients using this class of drug. Stevia also is contraindicated with hypertensive medicine users as it enhances the activities of such medicines (such as ARBs, ACEs and A/B Blockers) and this is the source of dizziness experienced by some users. The problem is actually less with controlled hypertensive persons but potentially more of an issue with hypotensive ones as stevia does have a noticable proximate impact on BP. As a result, some companies have introduced identical products, one with stevia (preferred for its agreeable taste) and one without (avoided for its allergenic and other properties). In the end, many manufacturers have avoided the use of stevia as it presented more difficulties than solutions and, at the very least, its behaviour in absolute terms was unpredictable.

Sucralose fears resolved.

The superb taste of sucralose, coupled to its safety makes it the number one choice for manufacturers that put quality first. The only reason for avoiding its use would be its high cost (and that would be manufacturer and not consumer driven). Any and all issues identified with sucralose (including Splenda brand sucralose) are thymus, gasto-intestinal and migrane related. These have only occurred when absurdly massive amounts (e.g. the equivalent of 20000 sachets in 24 hours) were administered. Even when deliberate attempts are made to adminster what might be a toxic dose (and equal in sweetness to 100 kilogrammes of table sugar in a 24 hour period) the deletarious effects are minor, temporary and leave no organic trace after 72 hours. By any standards, this constitutes one of the most stupendously safe products to ingest that has ever been invented. All of these scientific tests results are published and references can be found on the internet. Condemnations of sucralose on the basis of chlorine synthesis are equally absurd and those promoting objections based on that have no understanding of the chemistry fundamentals involved.

Xylitol, Sorbitil and Mannitol.

On the matter of Xylitol, and that would by inference include Mannitol and Sorbitol: These are sugar alcohol products and have very elegant and non-problematic applications in manufacturing, (particularly where heat is involved) with one proviso: they are not suitable for products needing fleeting sweetness. This is because they are “fast” sweeteners – their sweetness lingers or stays. As a result, they tend to be used in things like chewing gum, where a persistent sweetness is needed to bind with a flavourant. As a result they have limited or no place in supplements or confections etc. Mannitol has a nutritive value which is lower than a simple sugar but still extant. In theory, this class of sweetener has no ‘aftertaste’ in the chemical engineering sense. That means they have no taste of their own. However, they have a potent regenerative or recirculating effect which makes them inapplicable for many manufacturers. It is interesting to note that some NNS such as sodium saccharine (still used due to its affordibility) have a semi-fast profile (which makes them less popular with users).

10 Responses to “The truth behind sucralose, splenda, stevia, xylitol… and your health”

  1. Jeremy on November 17th, 2013

    Ok, so you say that sucralose is safe, but what about all the scientifically backed reports of the harmful effects of Splenda and Sucralose. The web is full of sites that are from very legit sources, that warn against the harmful side effects of sucralose. Certainly one cannot ignore that?

    Are you saying that your studies are backed by scientific studies too? People are getting lots of information, but who can they trust in the end?

  2. george on November 18th, 2013

    Dear Jeremy

    Thank you for your comment on the subject of sucralose and Splenda.

    I realise the article is a long one, but it is important to read it in its entirety. The issue regarding the safety of sucralose been covered in detail and it is not merely our personal contention that it is safe to consume. As you can imagine, it is considerably harder getting a substance approved by literally hundreds of national regulatory authorities than it is setting up a website to pooh-pooh it with nebulous claims.

    There is no doubt that privately funded surveys and worse, privately conducted surveys, more often than not, present subjective outcomes. Many even have doctors or institutions names attached to suggest a semblance of credibility. These sites claim data gathered that comprise essentially a collection of anecdotes. These are effective at creating doubt and concern at the consumer level. They shouldn’t do so however, as they are seldom repeatable in a properly constructed academic environment. By this time, they have succeeded in creating concern or panic amongst the army of internet hypochondriacs that abound. In short, if a person is suffering from some symptom or ailment, clearly they should be looking elsewhere: sucralose isn’t causing it.

    I believe the approach to any possible allegation that might arise from its use must be done so from the standpoint that when ‘ingested’, it is not “digested”. It leaves the body in precisely the same form and chemical structure as it entered. As a result no impact on any physiological function can possibly arise.

    All the studies to determine the ingredient’s safety were done by Tate and Lyle many years ago to the ample and ongoing satisfaction of various statutory bodies around world, initially in the EC and the USA. The continued usage of the ingredient testifies as to its routine acceptance by the real authorities as being safe for consumption. Pay special attention to the mega doses of the substance that also had no effect on test subjects. It can be contended that sustained use of any substance in small amounts may have different results from large single doses: however a large single dose would still need to have a traceable impact for a cumulative impact over time to be either the same, less or greater.

    Some privately funded surveys are conducted from time to time on various ingredients, compounds (be they foodstuffs or medicines); however they usually fail to meet the stringent requirements of (1)wide-ranging, (2)double-blind, (3)placebo controlled studies conducted over (4)substantial tracts of time. Sample groups of cohorts must meet certain minima for scholarly consideration. All worthwhile studies that survive serious scientific scrutiny are widely published and often are repeated in multiple countries which are later grouped together to be refined through integrated evaluation in meta-analyses.

    If you are able to present us some reputable clinical studies conducted by reputable institutions on the basis outlined above, we would be glad to forward them to Tate and Lyle in the UK on your behalf for their comments.

    Yours sincerely,

    George C. Wilhelm
    TITAN NUTRITION

  3. Jeremy on November 20th, 2013

    Dear George

    I am sure many other people will agree with me that this response is thorough and very sincere. Which is why i sincerely appreciate it. It’s just that there is a but-load of information available today and lots of it isn’t legit so it helps getting feedback like this from someone who is clearly not there to BS people.

    My comment was one of concern, because i’ve been using supplements for such a long time now that i was getting worried that the long term exposure to sucralose might be hazardous to my health. Especially if you go read up on all the stuff on the internet.

    Thank you for the feedback and thanks for producing excellent quality products, that are most definitely one of a kind.

    Jeremy

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