Many people use sugar substitutes, some of which are more natural than others. If you’re consuming sucralose (Splenda), you should be aware of some new research that shows that consuming sucralose on its own appears safe; but when consumed alongside carbohydrates, it changes how your body processes sugars.
For this study, researchers from Yale University followed sixty healthy adults who consumed beverages containing one of the following: sugar, sucralose, a combination of sucralose and a non-sweetening carbohydrate, or just a non-sweetening carbohydrate. The participants were monitored over a 2-week period, and their brains’ responses to sweetness and insulin sensitivity were tested.
The results showed that those participants who drank the beverage containing combined sucralose with a carbohydrate had reduced insulin sensitivity compared to their status before the study. Insulin sensitivity is often linked to pre-diabetes because it is a marker of how well the body can respond to insulin which is needed to process sugar in the body. It is best to have a good degree of insulin sensitivity so the body can process the sugar effectively without having too much extra sugar in the body.
Those who drank the sucralose/carbohydrate combination also had reduced activity in the areas of their brain connected to detecting the taste of sweetness. The rest of the participants who drank either sucralose on its own or a non-sweetening carbohydrate on its own did not have these same results.
Since sucralose is often used with carbohydrates (for example, in baked goods) or consumed in a drink alongside a meal containing carbohydrates, it’s thought-provoking for how we can use these sugar alternatives as safely as possible.
Lowering the insulin sensitivity when carbohydrates are being consumed means that the carbs will not be processed as effectively and can lead to sluggish sugar processing. This new research may have longer reaching consequences for diabetics who are using a lot of Splenda and warrants further and longer trials. If you consume a lot of sucralose, bring this up with your doctor to see if it's still a wise idea for you.
Dalenberg, Jelle R, and Barkha P. Patel. “Short-Term Consumption of Sucralose with, but Not without, Carbohydrate Impairs Neural and Metabolic Sensitivity to Sugar in Humans.” Cell Metabolism, vol. 31, no. 3, 3 Mar. 2020, pp. 493–502., doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2020.01.014.