For probably all of my adult life or at least since college, I have been enamored with green tea. I drank generous amounts bottled ice teas any time I ventured into a convenience store. Arizona was my brand because they were the ones offering a veritable cornucopia of iced tea products from the sweet and well-known fruit teas (my favorite was peach) to the more exotic teas that I had never heard of such as black tea. When I tried their green tea, I was hooked. Later on as I jumped on the no-carb bandwagon and became searching for zero calorie drinks, they satisfied this junkies cravings with what would become my lifeblood for many years to come, diet green tea.

Each bottle of diet green had a peculiar label on it that I never paid much attention to. The tag read in large friendly letters, “Made with Splenda.” I figured with the FDA around it really didn’t matter what the heck Splenda was, I felt confident that if it was in my diet green tea, then it had to be good. Around this time I noticed copious amounts of the individual sweetener packets in my mothers kitchen where the sugar and the Sweet N Low used to be. My mother and all of the other yenta’s that frequented our abode would rave about the wonders of Splenda over any number of pastries or bagels. My mother to this day sings its praises as a dietary wonder product.

What fools we have been! According to osteopathic physician and surgeon, Dr. Joseph Mercola and Naturopathic Medical Doctor Kendra Degen Pearsall, authors of the new book, “Sweet Deception: Why Splenda, NutraSweet, and the FDA May Be Hazardous to Your Health,” Splenda is about as safe as ingesting DDT (no, not Jake Roberts wrestling finisher, the poisonous pesticide). As a matter of fact, Splenda and DDT are chemically speaking, remarkably similar according to the above authors. When I think about the gallons and gallons of diet green tea and other beverages containing Splenda I have consumed, I get a little more than queasy.

The good doctors have written a book that blows the lid on the real affects and history of sugar abuse, artificial sweeteners and just how corrupted the Food and Drug Administration have become. Because “Sweet Deception” is a comprehensive review of the sugar industry as well as a critique of the FDA, it is an indispensable tool for those who are trying in the face of insurmountable odds to better their health and maintain a healthy diet. At the very least, it provides good source material for people to check out and compare their diet against. After all, if you don’t know what’s in the food you are eating, then you can’t combat against it.

The first chapter deals exclusively with sugar. Sugar has a storied life and is partially responsible for some of the more negative aspects of human history such as environmental degradation of the Everglades and slavery in the Colonial Era. But beyond being a dubious resource it is also a major factor in our collective health. Sugar in it’s most basic definition is that with which something becomes sweet. Sweet is a signal to our brains that whatever we are consuming is good and won’t poison us, as opposed to something that tastes sour or bitter. Sugar also satisfies our appetites more quickly than say another type of element like salt. Mercola and Pearsall explain in great detail what an appropriate amount of sugar intake should be and what happens when we overdose on sugar (like we currently are). In addition, the authors cover all of the additives in foods that are either derived from sugar or are meant to replace sugar such as High Fructose Corn Syrup. HFCS is almost all of the drinks we consume as well as other products and as other authors such as Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) have tried to warn the reading populace, is absolutely no good for you.

The next few chapters deal with the rise of artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame (which is in another one of the drinks I have made a part of my daily routine) and sucralose aka Splenda. Mercola and Pearsall explain the context of what gave rise to the artificial sweetener industry as well as what chemicals play a role in creating said products. What the authors reveal in these chapters is both horrifying and maddening all in the same verse. Not only are the artificial sweeteners mostly cancerous, but they also had the tacit approval of the federal government.

If the book were only about sugar and artificial sweeteners then it would have only been about 100 pages long. However, where health and diet is concerned, what you eat is only part of the conversation. As I stated at the onset of this review, I, like many of my fellow consumers, assumed that if the product made it to the shelves in my local supermarket, then it must be safe for me to place on the menu. However, Mercola and Pearsall explain in the next several chapters that the FDA is just as subject to lobby money and corruption and as another institution run by man.

Basically, what the authors show us is that on paper every food product needs to be demonstrated as safe before the FDA will approve. So the BIG corporations pay their own team of scientists to perform studies and tests and then their bosses either bury or scuttle the evidence, thus watering down or completely changing the stated outcomes of said study. When this information is presented to the FDA, it looks as if it was a perfectly good study and thus gets its approval to wait on the shelves for its chance to give us all cancer. Donald Rumsfeld makes an appearance in this section of the book. Not only is he responsible for the failed military post-war strategy in Iraq but also he’s also responsible for bringing us NutraSweet, which causes brain tumors and cancer.

I am not the health nut that reading this book might make you think I am. My diet leaves much to be desired but where I can get information I try to and this book really opened up my eyes to what exactly I have been doing to myself by drinking products containing Splenda as well as other artificial sweeteners. If you value your health and are interested in making significant changes to your diet or even if you are just sick of going to doctors, you should read, “Sweet Deception,” by Dr. Joseph Mercola and Dr. Kendra Degen Pearsall.

We will be covering this book more in-depth this week on the radio show.

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