I am positive that this article won’t get me many fans. Let me just start off by saying that I don’t like Advocare products. From what I’ve seen, they are highly processed and peddled off as healthy supplements by bored housewives (ouch, sorry… ). Several years ago, I lived next door to a bored housewife and she constantly praised how great Advocare’s Spark Energy Drink was. She gave me a few samples of Spark, but I really didn’t dig the chemical taste or how it made me feel. I put the remaining sample packets in my cupboard and forgot about them. Seven years later, they still lurk in the back of my cabinet.
Over the years, more friends have told me how healthy Spark is and how great of a company Advocare is. They’ve told me that Advocare has a team of doctors that research everything they put into their products, so it is very trustworthy and backed by science. But is it really? Now that I’m a bit of a label-reading nazi, I thought I would take a look at what the basic ingredients are in Spark. What I found astonished me.
Advocare Spark – Questionable ingredients
Ascorbic Acid: This fake form of vitamin C is not inherently unhealthy, but it is derived from genetically-modified (GMO) corn syrup. So, if you are trying to avoid all GMO ingredients, you’ll want to add ascorbic acid to our list of foods to avoid.
Natural Flavors: The word “natural flavors” on an ingredient label is incredibly broad and can be used to deceptively hide natural substances that make food addicting, such as naturally occurring “glutamate” bi-products producing the same side-effects as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).
Artificial Flavors: This ingredient can be just about anything that is not found in nature and made in a lab to improve the flavor and smell of food. Over 3000 of them are approved by the FDA although many of them have never been tested for safety and they are given little oversight. Notably, of those that have been tested, artificial cinnamon flavor has been shown to cause cancer in mice. Artificial flavors commonly cause reactions in people (headaches, nausea), but it is largely unknown what other damage they cause.
Maltodextrin: This is often derived from GMO corn. It is also suspected that maltodextrin is a hidden name for MSG as a free glutamate acid, creating the same side-effects as MSG. It is worth being very suspicious of this additive in Spark in conjunction with the use of artificial and natural flavors.
GABA: As an inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA slows down brain function and makes you feel cool as a cucumber. While GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) is generally regarded as safe to consume, I wouldn’t drink it daily. Few studies have been done on long term use and there are indications that is kills brain cells in the same way that alcohol does. According to some biochemists, “GABA makes you stupid“.
Sucralose: Sucralose is more commonly known as Splenda, the artificial sweetener. In my house, it is known as ant killer. Yes, I’ve tried it on ants and it kills instantly! It’s amazing really, those little suckers didn’t stand a chance. You should try it, unless you have a strange fondness for ants . This shouldn’t be too surprising, given that sucralose was originally invented as a pesticide by chlorinating sugar molecules in 1976. Since humans began thinking it was a good idea to eat it, short-term studies have shown that it significantly decreases beneficial gut flora, and may cause enlarged livers and kidney disorders. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nonprofit watchdog group, just downgraded it’s safety rating of sucralose from “safe” to “caution”, meaning that the sweetener “may pose a risk and needs to be better tested“, which was triggered by recent research that links sucralose to leukemia.
I know of no long-term studies on sucralose, but be rest assured that tests are currently being conducted (on you ….and the public at large that consumes Splenda with FDA’s blessing). So far, human test subjects are reporting skin rashes, panic disorders, dizziness, numbness, diarrhea, swelling, muscle aches, headaches, intestinal cramping, bladder issues and stomach pain. These are only the immediate effects that are being reported. What about the long term effects?
The sucralose in Advocare Spark is the ingredient that really astonished me
Why would Advocare add this poisonous pesticide to their products? I thought they were supposed to be a healthy supplement company with a team of doctors diligently researching the ingredients that go into their products. I went to Advocare’s website and found an article written by Dr. Sidney Stohs firmly asserting that Sucralose is safe.
Who exactly is Dr. Sidney Stohs and why does he claim that sucralose is safe?
Dr. Stohs formerly worked for Advocare as their Vice-President of Research and Development. It should be noted that Dr. Stohs is a research scientist and not a medical doctor. Several years ago, Dr. Stohs openly praised the safety of the weight loss supplement Hydroxycut. He conducted studies on Hydroxycut’s controversial ingredient hydroxycitric acid (HCA – Super Citrimax), claiming it was safe and beneficial. He also co-authored journal articles on the safety of Hydroxycut’s ingredients. Subsequently, Hydroxycut was yanked from the shelves in 2009 after it was shown to cause numerous diseases and found not to be safe for human consumption after all (via FDA.gov). The World Journal of Gastroenterology published that HCA is a hepatoxin, thereby damaging the liver. A hepatoxin is a poison. Nonetheless, even after it was removed from the market, Dr. Stohs held strong in his belief that HCA was safe. Dr. Stohs blatantly declared that:
"HCA is an ingredient that has been extensively studied and ... no adverse effects have been reported in animal and human studies".
Remember that quote, as it is about to sound strangely familiar. In his new claims for Advocare about the safety of sucralose, Dr. Stohs alarmingly asserts that he is:
"not aware of any peer-reviewed information published in reputable, well-recognized scientific journals demonstrating toxic or adverse effects. The research studies which have been conducted to investigate the safety of sucralose have demonstrated no effects on organs, growth weight, blood chemistry or fertility, and sucralose is not carcinogenic, teratogenic, or mutagenic".
I may not have a PhD, but I found the following published scientific studies with very little effort on the internet. If you have any question about the validity of claims that sucralose is dangerous, I encourage you (and Dr. Stohs) to read them:
Sucralose causes bowel enlargement, kidney mineralization and abnormal pelvic tissue - Food Chem Toxicol. 1990 Jun;28(6):449-55. PMID: 2210518
Sucralose consumption may contribute to inflammatory bowel disease - World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Apr 21 ;18(15):1708-22. PMID: 22553395
Sucralose as a migraine trigger - Headache. 2006 Sep;46(8):1303-4. PMID: 16942478
Sucralose as a migraine trigger #2 *PEER REVIEWED* - Headache. 2006 Mar;46(3):515-7
Sucralose induced DNA damage in gastrointestinal organs and further research is recommended *PEER REVIEWED* - Mutat Res. 2002 Aug 26;519(1-2):103-19
Sucralose Affects Glycemic and Hormonal Responses to an Oral Glucose Load - Diabetes Care. 2013 Apr 30. Epub 2013 Apr 30. PMID: 23633524
This is just a sampling of studies, and more can be found on GreenMedInfo.com.
The perfect alternative to Spark Energy Drink …..fresh GREEN JUICE!
Green juice is highly energizing as it contains large amounts of chlorophyll (roughly 70%). Chlorophyll is the wonderful substance that allows plants to get energy from light. When I drink green juice, I feel like I’m soaking up energy just like a plant in the sun (weird…but true)! If that isn’t good enough, green juice naturally contains live enzymes, bioactive vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals that are not generally found in your regular diet. Plus it’s naturally low in sugar, so you won’t experience a sugar crash and burn.
Whatever you do, do not go out and buy a pre-packaged green juice! To get the benefits, it must be freshly pressed juice. All you need is a juicer and a trip to the farmers market.
Get your chlorophyll fix with these green juice recipes
Share this article next time a bored housewife tells you how awesome Advocare Spark is! They might even thank you
The content of this website is not meant to be medical advice and is for informational purposes only. Any page on this website may contain affiliate links to products. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, I may automatically receive a small referral fee. For more information, read my disclaimer/disclosure.