Splenda Not So Splendid for Your Health

dangers of sucralose splenda for health

The artificial sweetener Splenda (sucralose) differs somewhat from other products in this category in that it is actually made from real sugar. But that does not mean Splenda is without health dangers associated with other artificial sweeteners. In fact, recent research has found that the use of sucralose may interfere with immune system function and more.

What is Splenda?

Splenda is the brand name of the artificial sweetener sucralose, which is a chemically altered form of sugar. This chemical modification makes sucralose 600 times sweeter than real sugar with no aftertaste and virtually no calories. To give sucralose this nearly zero calorie count, parts of the sugar molecule called hydroxyl are exchanged for chlorine.

Splenda is often used by people with diabetes because it doesn’t cause their blood sugar levels to spike. However, scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in London have found evidence that Splenda may suppress immune system function when consumed at high doses.

Read about Does sucralose help you lose weight?

The Splenda study

The study, which appeared in Nature, was conducted on mice who had either a bacterial infection or a tumor. Researchers fed the mice amounts of sucralose that were “equivalent to the acceptable daily intake (ADI) recommended by the European and American food safety authorities.” The use of sucralose impacted the animals by lowering the activation of T cells, which are essential for immune function. The mice were less able to fight off infection and cancer. When the mice were no longer given sucralose, their T cells returned to normal function.

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Sucralose is not inert

Scientists have long debated whether sucralose is inert (chemically inactive). However, the Nature study findings have caused researchers to conclude that “sucralose is not an inert molecule and may affect human health,” adding to findings of an earlier animal study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. In that study, the authors reported that sucralose is metabolized. Although traces of sucralose were not seen in urine and feces two weeks after the animals were given the sweetener, it was found in fat tissue. This raises further questions about the safety of the sweetener.

Read about a new study that finds sucralose does affect blood sugar and insulin

Sucralose and other health issues

Sucralose has demonstrated other health risks based on previous studies. In a study published in BJM, for example, this artificial sweetener was associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease. At the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting on April 2-5, 2022, researchers reported that sucralose disrupts the function of a protein critical in liver detoxification and the breakdown of certain drugs.

Is sucralose good for your gut? A 2022 study in Microorganisms showed that consuming sucralose for 10 weeks caused gut dysbiosis and changed insulin and sugar levels in healthy adults.

An animal study showed that consuming sucralose during pregnancy inhibits the development of the intestinal system and causes gut dysbiosis in infants while promoting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in adulthood.

Bottom line

Splenda (sucralose) is associated with numerous health hazards. In addition to the health warnings already discussed, heating foods that contain sucralose at high temperatures may create toxic compounds, which increases the risk of carcinogenicity. The use of sucralose and foods containing is best avoided. Instead use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup and sugar in moderation.

Researchers uncover how sugar substitutes (artificial sweeteners) disrupt liver detoxification. SciTechDaily 2023
Bornemann V et al. Intestinal metabolism and bioaccumulation of sucralose in adipose tissue in the rat. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A 2018; 81:913-23
Dai X et al. Maternal sucralose intake alters gut microbiota of offspring and exacerbates hepatic steatosis in adulthood. Gut Microbes 2020 Jul 3; 11(4):1043-63.
Debras C et al. Artificial sweeteners and risk of cardiovascular diseases: results from the prospective NutriNet-Santé cohort. British Journal of Medicine 2022; 387:e071204
Eisenreich A et al. Heating of food containing sucralose might result in the generation of potentially toxic chlorinated compounds. Food Chemistry 2020 Aug 15; 321:126700.
Hrncir T. Gut microbiota dysbiosis: triggers, consequences, diagnostic and therapeutic options. Microorganisms 2022 Mar 7; 10(3):578
Mendez-Garcia LA et al. Ten-week sucralose consumption induces gut dysbiosis and altered glucose and insulin levels in healthy young adults. Microorganisms 2022; 10(2):434
Zani F et al. The dietary sweetener sucralose is a negative modulator of T cell-mediated responses. Nature 2023 Mar 15; 615:705-11
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Lisa Roth Collins is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) and is the Marketing Manager at NaturallySavvy.com. She is passionate about health and wellness and tries her best to make healthier choices every day for herself and her family. Her journey to natural health was driven by her own struggles with digestive discomfort, depression, and anxiety. Lisa returned to school in 2014 to study nutrition at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition. She threw herself into her studies so she could learn as much as she could to help herself feel better and thrive. Upon completing the program and being certified as an RHN, Lisa began her work at Naturally Savvy where she has been able to help so many people learn to make healthier choices for themselves. Through her work, she has connected with so many incredible people in the industry whether other authors, influencers, or brands. Plus, she is affectionately known as "Techie Spice" because of her ability to wrap her head around technology. Every day she gets up with a renewed sense of energy and ready to make a difference. You can read all of Lisa's content here. In her spare time, Lisa loves to try new recipes, make delicious and nourishing meals, and she is an avid reader. For more information about Lisa, check out her profile on here.