There are more and more sugar substitutes on the market and in our grocery stores than ever before, but are they safe for our us and our children? I know I am extra cautious giving this kind of stuff to my own kids because I just don’t want to give them anything that may hurt their development. How many other products were once touted as safe only to find experts backing away from that position a few decades later?
One of the most popular sugar substitute ingredients of late is Splenda™; an artificial sweetener that comes in many packaged items and drinks or you can add it to a drink in a powder form. Splenda™ has been one of those sweeteners that promised no side effects only to have questionable side effects later. Splenda™ is actually a synthetic compound called sucralose. And don’t be fooled by how that sounds just like sucrose or glucose…it was intentional…they gave a complex chlorinated artificial chemical a name that sounds like a naturally occurring sugar. Sucralose was found by accident by a scientist who was looking for a new pesticide. Studies in rats that were given Splenda™ showed altered thymus glands and enlarged kidneys and livers. It also has chlorine in it and is the first edible product to contain this ingredient….previously it was only found in pesticides like DDT, mustard gas, and various chemical solvents, all things that stay in the body tissues for long periods of time. All of these details lead me to believe that this is the last thing we would want to be giving our kids!
Equal™ and Sweet ‘n Low™, that contain aspartame and saccharine, respectively, have shown some side effects in rats, but it seems the studies seem to be halted when the results start getting unfavorable according to Dr. Mercola. These sugars have been linked to adverse reactions, birth defects, brain cancer, diabetes, emotional disorders, and seizures. My best friend growing up had a wicked allergic reaction to anything that had aspartame in it and after seeing those episodes I started to think it wasn’t a wise thing to consume that stuff.
Sugar-free items that contain ingredients such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and, eruthritol have been shown to cause rashes in some people. These ingredients found in some sugar substitutes can also produce gas, so it’s best not to indulge in large quantities of sugar substitutes that have these ingredients in them to avoid intestinal problems.
In the end, natural sugar will not hurt your child, especially natural fruit and vegetable sugars, and substitute sugars are not REAL food. Substitute sugars are engineered and that fact alone should cause us to pause. I know I just won’t take the chance with sugar substitutes. We have opted to use natural sweeteners such as dried fruit (dates, raisins, coconut), fresh fruit and juice, Stevia, Sucanat, agave nectar, honey, Lucuma powder, maple syrup, etc. My Raw Kids Recipes book has many sweet treat recipes in it that only use natural, unprocessed sweeteners and my kids love them. They especially love the raw, naturally sweetened ice creams and sorbets I make.
Here is to your health!