Myth About Common Sweetener And Potential Effects On Chronic Kidney Disease And Diabetics

Have you ever used an artificial sweetener? Artificial sweeteners are known to replace traditional sugar so that individuals can continue to eat and drink sweetened foods and beverages without a major spike in their Blood Sugar levels or severe weight gain. This is particularly important for Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetics who have to limit their intake of sugars. 

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For instance, being just slightly over their recommended weight could cost Chronic Kidney Disease patients their chance at a Kidney Transplant. Similarly, Blood Sugar spikes could cause serious health complications in Diabetic patients. 

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Ironically, many Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetic patients avoid artificial sweeteners because of popularized studies describing how the sweeteners lead to Gastrointestinal (stomach) problems, Migraines, Seizures, Dizziness, Blurred vision, Allergic reactions, Blood sugar increases, and even Weight gain. Splenda (Sucralose) is an artificial sweetener that became available in 1999, and received much of the negative press. 

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You may be astonished to learn that Sucralose sweeteners such as Splenda have since been recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Splenda is made from sugar (sucrose) which was selectively modified so that it goes unrecognized when inside your body, and thus is calorie-free. 

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You may be equally surprised to learn that "Sucralose is reported to be safe on the kidneys, even for those on dialysis," according to the National Kidney Foundation. Moreover, WebMd's Diabetes Health Center notes, "You can use [Splenda] in hot and cold foods, including in baking and cooking." Due to the fact that Sucralose retains its stability even under high temperatures, it is often used as a direct substitute in place of sugar for baking recipes. It is also commonly used as a tabletop sweetener. 

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It is unfortunate that conflicting information (both outdated and new), confuse Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetic patients to the point that they throw up their hands and settle for unsweetened, tart food or they just use traditional sweeteners that can be harmful to their health outcomes. What's more, is that many consume artificial sweeteners anyway because they are used in lower-calorie, fat-free, and processed snacks. Another interesting fact is that 10% of all Sucralose is sold to drug companies and used in medications, according to Mercola.    

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You should know that sugar-free snacks and treats may still contain carbohydrates and fat, so it’s important to read the nutrition label completely to find out what ingredients are in the items and how they may fit into your dietary plan and nutrition needs. Also, some people may be less tolerant of artificial sweeteners than others. Hence, if you experience any negative side effects from consuming Splenda or other artificial sweeteners, talk to your Healthcare Team immediately.

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References: 

"Types of Artificial Sweeteners for Diabetes: Aspartame, Sucralose, and More." WebMD.com. WebMD.

"What Makes the Foods We Eat Sweet? Breaking Down Sugar Substitutes." Http://www.kidney.org/. The National Kidney Foundation.

"Can Diabetics Eat Splenda?" LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.