An interesting article was published last September in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, in which the author hypothesized that sucralose (brand name Splenda) might be the cause of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The disease emerged in the past century, and was most prevalent in Western countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, and in northern Europe. Interestingly, prevalence of IBD in Canada was much lower, until recently.

In recent years Canada has become a country with the highest incidence of IBD. The author, who, a decade ago, found that certain dietary chemicals, like saccharine, inhibited gut bacteria, thereby deactivating digestive enzymes, possibly causing IBD due to the increased damage to the intestinal lining. In Canada, the use of saccharine was more restricted than in other Western countries, which could explain why Canada did not have higher IBD rates when other Western countries did.

The author suggests that sucralose, which has been widely used in Canada since the 1990s, may be an even more potent contributor to gut bacteria inhibition, thereby leading to IBD, and explaining the newly increased rates of IBD in Canada. The author states that sucralose “may have a more pronounced effect on gut bacteria than saccharine in that approximately 65 to 95 percent of sucralose is excreted through feces unchanged, while a large proportion of saccharine is absorbed and excreted through urine.” This means that higher amounts of sucralose come into contact with the intestinal lining.

There are no studies yet on the link between sucralose and IBD, but the author calls for it. I find this to be an interesting link. Studies have shown that sucralose alters gut bacterial balance, and altered gut bacterial balance is a hallmark of IBD. I always recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners. Here is yet another good reason for it.