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Study: Splenda May Damage Gut Bacteria, Boost Weight Gain, and Inhibit Nutrient/Drug Uptake
Brought to you from the NEEDS Wellness Team

Reducing the amount of refined sugar in our diets as a general rule is a good policy; however, replacing a natural substance with a chemically manufactured one isn't necessarily the solution as the results of a recent study reported in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health show.

The 12-week study, performed by researchers from Duke University, reported that Splenda and its key component, sucralose, may suppress beneficial bacteria in the gut and cause weight gain. The study also determined that consumption of the sweetener may affect the expression of certain enzymes known to interfere with the absorption of nutrients and pharmaceuticals.

Researchers separated 50 rats into five equal groups. One (the control group) was administered only water with its diet, while the other four groups had the diet supplemented with different doses of Splenda in water. The amounts given to the rats were in a range that was slightly below to slightly above the daily intake amount that the FDA considers safe. In other words, the dosages that the animals consumed equated to amounts that would be reasonable for a human to consume.

After 12 weeks, half the animals in each group were evaluated for certain intestinal bacteria, enzymes, and weight. The remaining animals spent a further 12 weeks without any Splenda in the diet.

Among the results in the animals studied, Splenda reduced the amount of beneficial bacteria in the intestines by 50%, increased the pH level in the intestines, contributed to increases in body weight, and affected certain enzymes that are related to the metabolism of medications in the liver. Low beneficial bacteria levels and elevated enzyme levels continued even after the animals stopped consuming Splenda during the 12-week recovery period.

Splenda is synthesized in a laboratory. The process starts with sucrose, which is simply a sugar molecule, to which three chlorine molecules are added. This manipulation of the sugar molecule makes it unrecognizable to the body, thus impossible to digest or metabolize, therefore the body cannot extract calories from it. The characteristic of not being recognized by the body as food is the only reason it is considered a "non-caloric" sweetener.

Some scientists theorize that Splenda is actually a toxic chemical because of the process used in its synthesis. Adding chlorine to the sucrose molecule (specifically, the carbon bonds) creates a chemical called chloro-carbon, causing it to resemble the chemical composition of a pesticide. According to these scientists, the safety of Splenda has yet to be determined.

This study shows that Splenda is not an inert chemical, but is one that has been shown in animals to cause weight gain, intestinal disruption and alterations to the metabolism of drugs. Further research is warranted to determine if this is truly safe for the human diet.

Source: Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A; Volume 71, Issue 21, Pages 1415-1429 "'Splenda Alters Gut Microflora and Increases Intestinal P-Glycoprotein and Cytochrome P-450 in Male Rats"
Authors: M.B. Abou-Donia, E.M. El-Masry, A.A. Abdel-Rahman, R.E. McLendon, S.S. Schiffman

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