America’s collective sweet tooth leads us to eat and average of over 100 lbs of sugar, annually. Given this fact, it so no wonder that when many of us try to kick the sugar habit, we are reaching for the nearest substitute. And for that, we have many options available. Artificial sweeteners have found their way onto the dinner table and into the “healthy” alternatives to many of our favorite foods. This seems like a good idea, given the link between sugar and many of the most serious chronic illnesses that plague Americans. There are a variety of artificial sugar substitutes out there, but one of the more popular options available is sucralose. But what is sucralose?
Sucralose was––like many chemicals––discovered by accident in the 1970s, when a student looking for applications of sucrose misunderstood directions given by a professor and “tasted” instead of “tested” the substance. He found it to be much sweeter than regular sugar, and the scientists would go on to patent the product. Sucralose is made from sucrose, which is simply sugar, like the kind you’d find on your dinner table. The only difference is the addition of three chlorine atoms added to the sucrose molecule, which renders sucrose largely un-absorbable. It can’t be digested and used as energy the way sucrose is, and all unabsorbed and absorbed sucralose passes out of the body within 24 hours unchanged, making it an ideal artificial sweetener. It is much sweeter than normal sugar and can be used in lower concentrations.
Sucralose is one of the most tested food products available, with most peer-reviewed studies finding no risk to human health when used in normal amounts. Some studies have shown to the contrary, claiming that scuralose can cause health problems in humans. Articles abound on the internet claiming that sucralose comes with a laundry list of risks and side effects. Some cite studies showing that sucralose can reduce the amount of good bacteria in the intestines and interfere with the absorption of drugs. Other studies have claimed to refute those claims. When moneyed interests are involved, it can be difficult to know who to trust. Regardless, sucralose remains approved by the FDA and remains a prevalent substitute for sugar.
As far as the Phase One Diet is concerned, the only sweeteners recommended are stevia and xylitol. Sucralose is still made from sugar, and much the way products containing corn starch or other byproducts from corn would be discouraged on the Phase One Diet, sucralose would likely be wise to avoid, as well, when trying to maintain the diet. Furthermore, there is the element of the Phase One Diet that seeks to break addictions. Given that Americans consume over 100 lbs of sugar per year on average, it is clear we have a problem with sweets. Making a concerted effort to change your tastebuds may be a more noble effort in the long run that trying to replace sugar with something less natural.