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Monday, June 21, 2010

How I feel about Splenda Safety



You may want to consider us guinea pigs (my family) - 18 years of high consumption of Splenda, sometimes in excess of 500 cups per year. These days I combine Splenda and erythritol (a sugar alcohol which does not cause gastric distress and has no effect on blood sugar) for the synergy they provide and don't bake quite as much. With artificial sweeteners, 1 + 1 = 3. However, it is possible to substitute your own preferred sweetener for the Splenda. Another thing to consider is that Splenda was approved in Canada, a country with a national health care system. There was nothing in it for them to approve a product that could cause major health problems and expense in the Canadian population; therefore, it is safe to say that they did not see it as a health threat. Also, at the time Splenda was not much of a threat to the billion dollar sugar and aspartame businesses. It was only when the FDA approved Splenda (8 years later) in the USA that all sorts of dire consequences were predicted for those consuming this new sweetener. I wonder why? Until approval in the States, there was no hue and cry at all. Without a doubt, our family and each of us as individuals has consumed way more Splenda than anyone else would ever consume in their entire life times, and we have not noticed any of the dire predictions of all of those websites branding it as a poison. In fact, I do not need to wonder what our health would be like had we all instead consumed 500 cups of sugar per year for the last 18 years. At the very least, we would be obese and unhealthy and quite possibly not even around to talk to you. My sons are very slender, in fact, my youngest son has the miniscule amount of body fat you would find in a top athlete. He is however, wonderfully muscular and healthy, as is my eldest son who is taller at 6 foot and also very strong.

It would be better if no sweeteners were required, but the fact is we are used to "sweet" and most of us need an occasional treat. It's a case of each person needing to find the sweetener that they like and feel comfortable with (I'm still waiting for something better than Splenda to come along). I personally could never abide by the taste of Stevia but that is just me and I don't have a problem with it or necessarily buy into any of the extreme scare stories out there. It can, however, be dangerous for someone who is insulin dependent, however, it is safe for everyone else. See, Stevia increases insulin sensitivity. Sometimes it is a case of "choosing one's own sweet poison". Sadly. Naturally occuring substances are often poisons as well.

Not consuming any food or drink will probably protect you from harmful substances, but then you'd be dead within 2-3 days from thirst anyway - however consuming just gasoline will kill you much quicker. Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes lies "reason" ... and that's a really good place to live! Ian's (my DH) Dad, as a young boy, was pretty much already "given up for dead" from a massive bacterial infection (in the late 1920's) and lay dying in a remote part of the world (at the southern tip of Africa) when their family Doctor (at that time) suggested that "Sulfur drugs", the first antibiotics, just newly available in Germany, had been noted to cure that particular infection. These man-made (not natural!) Sulfur drugs were then flown from Germany to South Africa, in the antique planes of those days, and were successfully used to save his life. He went on to become a Doctor in the remotest regions of Southern Africa, in turn saving many people from dying from Typhus and other deadly diseases. In fact, my family would not exist if it were not for those man-made and not natural sulfur drugs that saved oupa's (grandfather's) life.

Let's get real ... to take a "hard and fast" stance against everything "not natural" is also just plain dumb! Yes, there are dangerous natural and man-made substances, and there are good natural and man-made substances ... so let's use reason to find the good ones, and reason to avoid the bad ones, but very importantly, let's try and avoid hysteria for determining either - that really serves nobody well at all!

There have been plenty of scare stories about Stevia too. See this excerpt from a Canadian newspaper:

"As consumers become ever more health-conscious, they continue to look for lower-calorie beverages and importantly all-natural beverages,” said Stacy Reichert, president of PepsiCo Beverages Canada.

Coca-Cola Canada is planning to introduce beverages made with Truvia in this country, but public-affairs manager Leigha Cotton wouldn't disclose a timeline.

But not everyone is enthusiastic about stevia moving into the mainstream. Although it has a long history of use, there are fears that introducing stevia and its extracts in a wide variety of products could lead to potential health problems.

For instance, some studies have suggested it can lead to male reproductive problems, interfere with metabolism and cause genetic mutations.

“There are a lot of risks and none of the big players seem to care,” said Curtis Eckhert, professor in the environmental health sciences and molecular toxicology department at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Dr. Eckhert helped prepare a report last year for the U.S.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest that urged more testing on stevia extracts before it is widely introduced into the population. "

Here is Dana Carpender's take on Splenda: Dana talking about Splenda

Dr. Eades talking about all sweeteners in general.

4 comments:

Kent said...

I too am not convinced about the Splenda boogeyman. I don't have a lot of the stuff (3 or so servings per day), but it is a nice addition to one's diet. It certainly doesn't have the side effects (a ton of extra weight) that its original natural alternatives (sugar) did on me.

Jennifer said...

LOL Splenda boogeyman! The amount you consume is miniscule, Kent, especially since you're a big guy too - really not an issue. Sugary treats and white flour treats put extra weight on me too. Besides that they make one feel awful, so all round high glycemic foods are a bad idea, not to mention the gradual clogging effect they have on the arteries - a previous, recent post. However, I know I'm preaching to the converted. LOL I'm rambling. Nice to hear from you.

Pattie said...

What about xylitol. I have heard a lot of good things about it and have used it in many recipies.

Jennifer said...

Xylitol is great if you can tolerate it. Some people get digestive upset. Also remember it is absolutely deadly for dogs. I'm too afraid to use it because we have a dog. I can't risk a mistake.