10 Facts you should know about Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners
Since America with the most obese adult population on earth is obsessed with dieting, the uses of aspartame and artificial sweeteners have increased drastically. You could find aspartame in many food products now a day’s including instant breakfasts, cereals, breath mints, sugar-free gums, cacao mixes, coffee beverages, gelatin desserts, frozen desserts, yogurt wine coolers, instant teas or coffees, tabletop sweeteners, soft drinks, shake mixes, no-prescription pharmaceutical drugs, multivitamins and milk drinks.
Recently the National Milk producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Food Association (IDFA) have been petitioning FDA to allow aspartame to be added to dairy products without proper labeling. Let’s find out why IDFA and NMPF have been petitioning FDA to approve using aspartame in dairy products without a label and have been claiming that low calorie sweetener like aspartame will promote healthy living especially among our kids in schools:
No #1: Aspartame consists of three compounds like methyl alcohol (wood alcohol), aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Consuming aspartame in sodas can cause flooding of amino acids in the blood stream that can lead to many health problems. Methanol in aspartame is broken down into two toxic substances called formaldehyde and formic acid. Formaldehyde is a toxic carcinogen that damages neurons and is related to birth defects and DNA replication.
No #2: people with phenylketonuria (PKU) lack enzymes that is need to convert phenylalanine to another amino acid enzyme called” tyrosine”. High concentration of phenylalanine can cause sever damages to the brain. Beside people with PKU, other people with kidney disease or iron deficiencies might also be prone to high levels of this amino acid.
No #3: Methanol, the other ingredient of aspartame is also poisonous even if it’s consumed in relatively modest amounts. Methanol toxicity can cause brain swelling, blindness and inflammation of heart muscles and pancreas.
No #4: Aspartame has also been making many people sick all of these years. According to Aspartame (NutraSweet): Is it Safe by H.J. Roberts, aspartame side effects can range from headaches, nausea, mood swings, changes in vision, diarrhea, confusion to memory loss, alzheimer’s and sleeping disorder. Aspartame could also be significantly dangerous for small children, sick people, elderly or those with low immune system.
No #5: A study by Yale University clearly shows how these artificial sweeteners including aspartame are linked to more craving for sugar, belly fat, obesity and type II diabetes.
No #6: Here is another study published by NCBI on how consuming artificial sweeteners increases the calorie intake, increases the body weight, increases adiposity and slows down metabolism.
No #7: A study by Harvard hospital is now apologizing for publishing a research that showed there are weak evidences that aspartame can cause cancer. They published a study in 2012 with the headline that “the truth isn’t sweet when it comes to artificial sweeteners” mentioning how there are enough evidence now that aspartame is linked to cancer. Harvard hospital admits it promoted weak science on aspartame. Harvard hospital apologizes for promoting “weak” data on aspartame, cancer. Also based on the study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition aspartame can increase the chances of rare blood cancer.
No #8: Another study published on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also shows that consumption of artificial sweeteners can increase the chances lymphoma and leukemia. Consumption of artificial sweetener– and sugar-containing soda and risk of lymphoma and leukemia in men and women
No #9: Here is another study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showing how diet drinks and consuming aspartame can increase the chances of cardiovascular disease. Soft drinks, aspartame, and the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease
No #10: According to Lendon Smith, M.D many people are suffering from hidden side effects of aspartame and they don’t know why no drugs, herbs or supplements can ease their pain and relieve the symptoms. Some of these symptoms could be decreased vision, blindness in one or both eyes, severe intolerance of noise, headaches and migraines, dizziness, confusion, memory loss, typical facial pain, severe tremors, severe depression, irritability, aggression and anxiety, personality issues, insomnia, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems, nausea, diarrhea, allergies, itching without a rash, lip and mouth reactions, hives, severe PMS, leg swelling, and bloating, hyperactivity in children, severe depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Lyme Disease and many more.
Center for the Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) ranks the safety of food additives—from acetic acid to yellow prussiate of soda—in this definitive glossary of the chemicals used to flavor and preserve our foods. Deciding what foods to buy was simpler when most food came from farms. Now, factory-made foods have made chemical additives a significant part of our diet. In general, it’s best to avoid the following ingredients.
- Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, Acesulfame K, Saccharin, Sucralose
- Food dyes
- Mycoprotein (Quorn-brand meat substitutes)
- Partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat)
- And don’t forget to cut back on sugar and salt, which cause more harm than all the other additives combined.
What is aspartame made of? DrAxe.com
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener, also referred to as Acesulfame potassium (K), AminoSweet®, Neotame®, Equal®, NutraSweet®, Blue Zero Calorie Sweetener Packets™, Advantame®, NutraSweet New Pink, Canderel®, Pal Sweet Diet®, and AminoSweet®, and it’s used in a variety of food and wellness products like diet soda, gum, candy and vitamins.
Almost immediately upon consuming aspartame, it breaks down into three chemical compounds: phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol.
Those first two components are amino acids. Methanol is known as “wood alcohol” and is known to be toxic in large doses, but the amount of methanol in one can of diet soda is about the same that naturally occurs in, say, a glass of grape juice.
Phenylalanine is an amino acid that can be toxic in high doses but generally recognized as safe in whole food products. However, when chemically bound to other compounds, like in aspartame, phenylalanine is absorbed almost immediately into the bloodstream rather than slowly via digestion.
Since this amino acid can cross the blood/brain barrier and functions as an excitotoxin when absorbed too quickly, it may potentially conflict with various neuronal processes. Just one diet soda raises the level of phenylalanine in the brain, causing serotonin levels to decrease. In at least one study, phenylalanine concentrations were higher in people with HIV, sepsis, cancer and undergoing trauma.
Aspartic acid is a non-essential amino acid (your body makes it without having to ingest it). Normally, aspartic acid (aspartate) is important in the function of the nervous and neuroendocrine systems.
Methanol is a wood alcohol that was not commonly ingested until the 20th century. It has no health benefits, but it’s particularly dangerous when consumed in aspartame.
How does the body process aspartame?
There is some concern about the way the body metabolizes the two amino acids from aspartame. Because of the way diet soda and other aspartame products are created, the amino acids they contain do not go through the normal process of enzyme breakdown and liberation, but instead absorb immediately into the bloodstream.
However, the more pressing concern comes from the methanol content in aspartame. Now, it is true that methanol is present in other food products, but in those cases, it is bound to pectin, a fiber commonly found in fruits. Generally, these bound pectin/methanol compounds are excreted safely through the normal digestive process.
In aspartame, methanol is bound (weakly, at that) to the phenylalanine molecule. One or two processes easily break that bond and create what is known as “free methanol.” In cases where the aspartame product has been kept in a hot environment over 85 degrees Fahrenheit (like a warehouse or hot truck), the bonds decompose before ever entering the body.
Free methanol then converts to formaldehyde, more commonly known as embalming fluid. Both methanol and formaldehyde are carcinogens in and of themselves. Formaldehyde has the unfortunate ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, one reason it is so detrimental to the body. Eventually, the formaldehyde can also turn into diketopiperazine, another known carcinogen.
Every animal other than humans converts formaldehyde to formic acid, a harmless substance. But humans don’t have the necessary enzyme for that change, which is one possible reason why animal studies don’t always represent the extent to which methanol impacts the body. This process in humans is called methyl alcohol syndrome.
As you probably know, aspartame in diet soda and over 6,000 other products is still approved by the FDA after decades of research and adverse reactions. The FDA even encourages pregnant women to drink it!
One estimate created in 1996 for sufferers of aspartame symptoms calculated approximately 1.9 million recognized toxic reactions between 1982 and 1995. This number is complicated by the fact that many doctors do not recognize aspartame toxicity as a legitimate cause of health problems since it is supposedly a safe product for all people.
As of 1995, the list of reported symptoms submitted to the FDA included headaches, dizziness, mood problems, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, seizures, memory loss, breathing problems, and various others.
Aspartame (now owned by Ajinomoto) is now being marketed under new names in order to further mislead consumers.
This has occurred even after aspartame poisoning has been implicated in the development of Gulf War syndrome, a number of neurological and physical symptoms of veterans in the U.K. and U.S. Gulf War. Troops were given large quantities of diet soft drinks that had often been in high-temperature conditions, suggesting they had already broken down into free methanol and formaldehyde compounds before they were consumed.
Still, we are told by agencies designed to protect us that aspartame is safe for people of all ages. The only exception to this is those suffering from the rare disease phenylketonuria, a birth defect that disrupts the body’s ability to process phenylalanine.
11 Dangers of Aspartame
In 2002, anti-aspartame activist Mark Gold reviewed aspartame toxicity results and reported them to the FDA for consideration. Individual complaints included some 49 symptoms, including headaches (reported by 45 percent of people), severe depression (25 percent), grand mal seizures (15 percent) and confusion/memory loss (29 percent).
Gold also referred to dozens of studies reflecting the negative impacts of aspartame, including the many warnings in piloting material to discourage pilots from consuming it due to the seizures and vertigo it can induce.
It seems that the dangers studied occur very differently in participants depending on who completes the study. For example, one review claims there to be “no unresolved questions regarding [aspartame’s] safety.” Of course, that particular report was released by NutraSweet. Let’s not just take their word for it.
Turns out, 100 percent of industry-funded research finds the same result: that aspartame is totally safe. However, 92 percent of studies funded independently discover adverse effects.
The Ramazzini Institute, a longtime cancer research center, has studied aspartame at length and claimed again in 2014 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, “On the basis of the evidence of the potential carcinogenic effects of [aspartame] herein reported, a re-evaluation of the current position of international regulatory agencies must be considered an urgent matter of public health.”
So, what are the most serious dangers of aspartame?
Potentially Increases Risk of Cancer: For decades, studies have proved the potential carcinogenic qualities of aspartame. The Ramazzini Institute continues to stand behind the results of its multiple studies finding aspartame to be associated with a 300 percent increase in lymphoma/leukemia incidence, even after being dismissed by the European Food Safety Authority. A Ramazzini study shows a correlation between aspartame and various cancers to the degree that the organization refers to it as a “multipotential carcinogenic agent,” even in doses well below the legal “acceptable” amounts. One reason this 20-year study is so significant is because the rats involved in the research were allowed to die naturally rather than being sacrificed earlier in the experiment. This was to investigate the last two-thirds of the animal life span, often unaccounted for, because cancer occurs in humans most often during this portion of life. Overall, studies have discovered links between aspartame and the following cancers:
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Brain cancer
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Central nervous system cancers (gliomas, medulloblastomas and meningiomas)
The discovery of the central nervous system cancers seems to be associated with the behaviors of the two amino acids found in aspartame because they are consumed in such large amounts and not broken down in the same fashion as when ingested in other foods and their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. This allows their excitotoxicity to take full effect. Cancer incidence seems to increase when animals are exposed to aspartame in the womb, underlining the importance for pregnant mothers never to consume aspartame. Formaldehyde (a metabolite of free methanol) is associated with the development of breast, stomach, intestinal, lymphoma and leukemia cancers.
Might Induce or Worsen Diabetes: Although doctors often recommend replacing sugary drinks with diet versions for diabetics, aspartame seems to have the opposite effect than hoped. Diet soda consumption is associated with a higher risk of Type II diabetes as well as metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms indicative of heart disease (which I’ll touch on in a moment). In fact, in this study of over 6,800 individuals of varying ethnicity between 45–84 years old, the risk of diabetes was 67 percent higher for people who consumed diet soda daily versus those who did not. It seems, in many cases, that aspartame intake can also aggravate diabetes symptoms, such as diabetic retinopathy and diabetic neuropathy. Aspartame conflicts with insulin/glucose tolerance, a marker of prediabetes, especially for those who are already obese. One suggestion why is the way aspartame alters gut microbiota (healthy bacteria) — these changes can induce glucose intolerance in otherwise healthy people. An animal study in December 2016 suggests a connection between an interaction between aspartic acid found in aspartame and glucose management. This, again, is exacerbated by the way this amino acid passes the blood-brain barrier. Researchers also discovered behavioral deficits in the subjects.
Could Increase Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke: As I just mentioned, aspartame intake is associated with metabolic syndrome. This cluster of conditions includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess belly fat and high cholesterol/triglyceride levels, and marks a dramatic increase in the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Research from Purdue University in 2013 found that frequent consumption of artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, sucralose (Splenda®) and saccharin, was associated with weight gain, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease because of the “metabolic derangements” it seems to cause. The Northern Manhattan Study, focused on the study of stroke and pertinent risk factors, found a significant increased risk of heart events — even when controlling the study for those with various related diseases — in people who drink diet soft drinks each day. The same link was not discovered for those drinking regular soda. Like the carcinogenic risks of aspartame, the heart disease risks also seem to rise when individuals are exposed to it in the womb. People exposed prenatally to aspartame eat more sweet foods in adulthood, are obese, and more often have high blood sugar, high LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides.
May Cause Nervous System and Brain Disorders: Since many of the major complaints about aspartame are neurologic in nature, particular attention has been given to the way it affects the brain and neurological system. Neurosurgeon Russell L. Blaylock, MD, released a book in 1998 called “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills,” detailing his research on aspartame and its relation to brain tumors, cell damage, and conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He attributes these effects to the way the compounds in aspartame overstimulate neurons. Research at the University of North Dakota’s Department of Nursing found an increase in irritation, more depressive behavior and a decline in spatial orientation in people consuming a “high-aspartame diet.” These “high” aspartame levels were actually about half of what the maximum acceptable daily intake (ADI) values are, according to the FDA. This correlates with a 2014 animal study that found chronic aspartame consumption to be related to a distortion of neuronal function and an uptick in brain cell death in certain regions of the brain. This study was conducted using the FDI-approved ADI value. For those who also consume MSG (monosodium glutamate, another controversial food additive), these cognitive problems may be even more pronounced. MSG and aspartame exposure drastically drops dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain and cause oxidative stress that can damage brain cells. That’s not the only time it’s been found that aspartame induces oxidative stress and interrupts the body’s ability to fight it with antioxidants. This impact is most significant in cases of long-term aspartame consumption and is associated with memory loss and more in animal studies. One of the first studies on the subject of aspartame in the brain was conducted by John Olney, the founder of the field of neuroscience known as excitotoxicity, in 1970. He was a longtime opposer to aspartame’s legalization because of his extensive research on the subject. His 1970 publication found that infant mice exposed to aspartame developed brain damage, even when given relatively low doses. If this holds true in humans at some level, it could help explain why aspartame is linked to an increased risk of stroke and dementia (according to the Framingham Heart Study). There has also been at least one finding published in Neurology that aspartame intake exacerbated the number of EEG spike waves in children suffering absence seizures.
Could Worsen or Trigger Mood Disorders: Closely related to its impact on neurological decline, aspartame may also be closely tied to the development of certain mental disorders, especially depression. Ingesting aspartame could potentially lead to a decline in learning and emotional function. Drinking diet beverages has been linked to depression more than once, including in one study of almost 264,000 participants over 10 years. Researchers found that those who drink more than four cans or cups of diet soda each day were between 30 percent and 38 percent more likely to develop depression, while coffee drinkers were 10 percent less likely to be diagnosed with depression. A famous study was conducted in 1993 to discover a correlation between mood disorders and aspartame in those with or without depression diagnoses. Before it could be completed, the Institutional Review Board had to halt the study because the participants who had a history of depression experienced such severe negative reactions that it led the department to discourage anyone with history of mood problems from ingesting aspartame because of their suggested high sensitivity to it.
Possibly Contributes to Fibromyalgia: Over 6 million people in the U.S. suffer from the chronic pain disorder known as fibromyalgia. The causes and cure are still unknown, but one small study examined fibromyalgia patients who had been struggling for years to find effective treatments. The study found that eliminating aspartame and MSG (two of the most common dietary excitotoxins) resulted in a complete or nearly complete resolution of all symptoms within a few months. The symptoms returned upon ingestion of either substance. This study was also submitted by Mark Gold of the Aspartame Toxicity Information Center to the FDA in 2003 without a positive response.
Associated with Weight Gain: Drinking and eating aspartame products is associated with metabolic syndrome, one feature of which is excess belly fat. So, I think we’ve established that aspartame does not help you lose weight. Now, the question is: Why? There are a few suggested reasons aspartame does not lead to weight loss. For one, consuming non-nutritive sweeteners (sweet substances that do not have calories) does nothing for the sweet addiction they address. Instead, they actually trigger your brain to desire more sweet foods. While eating sugar has that same effect, actual sugar has the benefit of providing caloric feedback, the “food reward” your body understands to mean it should stop eating. Aspartame, however, does the opposite — it encourages cravings and sweets dependence, all without the caloric feedback you need to control your intake. This, in turn, results in eating more non-nutritious foods and drinks. A 2014 experiment actually postulated that drinking diet beverages influences psychological processes that might cause a person to increase overall caloric intake. In addition to this interruption of normal biofeedback, a study published in late 2016 found that the phenylalanine in aspartame is an inhibitor of a digestive enzyme that protects against developing metabolic syndrome called “intestinal alkaline phosphatase.” So, not only do diet drinks lead to higher calorie consumption overall, but one of their compounds may actually stop your body’s normal responses that are meant to protect against obesity and other disease risk factors.
Might Cause Premature Menstruation: In a newer side of aspartame research, three U.S. universities studied young girls for 10 years to track growth and hormonal changes as well as lifestyle and diet. They found that drinking caffeinated soft drinks, particularly diet drinks, was associated with early development of menstrual cycles. Why does this matter? Because the long-term risks of early puberty include breast cancer, HPV, heart disease, diabetes and all-cause mortality.
Linked to Development of Autism: By now, I hope you are convinced that aspartame is dangerous, particularly for pregnant mothers. One more reason to avoid this sweetener is because it has been linked to the development of autism in children. In the journal Medical Hypotheses, researchers discussed a study in which women who had been exposed to dietary methanol (found in aspartame) were significantly more likely to give birth to children who developed autism.
Increased Risk of Kidney Disease: In people with initially healthy kidney function, drinking diet sodas laden with aspartame may be associated with a 30 percent greater drop in kidney function than those who do not drink diet sodas. This research was conducted over 20 years and included over 3,000 women.
Could Cause “Aspartame Disease”: This term, though not an officially recognized medical condition, was coined by a doctor named H.J. Roberts. He released an extensive set of research in his book, “Aspartame Disease,” in 2001 and advocated its ban by governing bodies until his death in 2013. He considers this an epidemic in Western civilization that is ignored and actually sanctioned by the FDA and other governmental bodies. He claims the symptoms of aspartame disease include the following (not an exhaustive list):
- Low blood sugar
- Convulsions (seizures)
- Depression and other mental disorders
- High blood pressure
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Brain tumors
- Carpal tunnel
Roberts and others, including Betty Martini of Mission Possible: World Health International (another anti-aspartame organization), encourage patients with these symptoms to consider that they may be suffering from aspartame disease and to abstain from it for a period of time before attempting any other treatment methods.
Aspartame Side Effects By Janet Starr Hull
The components of aspartame can lead to a number of health problems, as you have read. Side effects can occur gradually, can be immediate, or can be acute reactions.
According to Lendon Smith, M.D. there is an enormous population suffering from side effects associated with aspartame, yet have no idea why drugs, supplements and herbs don’t relieve their symptoms. Then, there are users who don’t ‘appear’ to suffer immediate reactions at all. Even these individuals are susceptible to the long-term damage caused by excitatory amino acids, phenylalanine, methanol, and DKP.
Adverse reactions and side effects of aspartame include:
- blindness in one or both eyes
- decreased vision and/or other eye problems such as: blurring, bright flashes, squiggly lines, tunnel vision, decreased night vision
- pain in one or both eyes
- decreased tears
- trouble with contact lenses
- bulging eyes
- tinnitus – ringing or buzzing sound
- severe intolerance of noise
- marked hearing impairment
- epileptic seizures
- headaches, migraines and (some severe)
- dizziness, unsteadiness, both
- confusion, memory loss, both
- severe drowsiness and sleepiness
- paresthesia or numbness of the limbs
- severe slurring of speech
- severe hyperactivity and restless legs
- atypical facial pain
- severe tremors
- severe depression
- personality changes
- palpitations, tachycardia
- shortness of breath
- recent high blood pressure
- diarrhea, sometimes with blood in stools
- abdominal pain
- pain when swallowing
Skin and Allergies
- itching without a rash
- lip and mouth reactions
- aggravated respiratory allergies such as asthma
Endocrine and Metabolic
- loss of control of diabetes
- menstrual changes
- marked thinning or loss of hair
- marked weight loss
- gradual weight gain
- aggravated low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- severe PMS
- frequency of voiding and burning during urination
- excessive thirst, fluid retention, leg swelling, and bloating
- increased susceptibility to infection
Additional Symptoms of Aspartame Toxicity include the most critical symptoms of all death
- irreversible brain damage
- birth defects, including mental retardation
- peptic ulcers
- aspartame addiction and increased craving for sweets
- hyperactivity in children
- severe depression
- aggressive behavior
- suicidal tendencies
Aspartame may trigger, mimic, or cause the following illnesses:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Post-Polio Syndrome
- Lyme Disease
- Grave’s Disease
- Meniere’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Mercury sensitivity from Amalgam fillings
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
These are not allergies or sensitivities, but diseases and disease syndromes. Aspartame poisoning is commonly misdiagnosed because aspartame symptoms mock textbook ‘disease’ symptoms, such as Grave’s Disease.
Aspartame changes the ratio of amino acids in the blood, blocking or lowering the levels of serotonin, tyrosine, dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline. Therefore, it is typical that aspartame symptoms cannot be detected in lab tests and on x-rays. Textbook disorders and diseases may actually be a toxic load as a result of aspartame poisoning.
Ever gone to the doctor with real, physical symptoms, but he/she can’t find the cause? Well, it’s probably your diet, your environment, or both.
Aspartame is the common denominator for over 92 different health symptoms at the root of modern disease. The Aspartame Detoxification Program demonstrates the most effective way to reverse disease symptoms is removing the underlying cause – aspartame.
I counsel aspartame victims worldwide and have witnessed nine out of 10 clients restore their health by following the Aspartame Detoxification Program. Begin with detoxifying your body of all residual chemical toxins from aspartame’s chemical make up of phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol and their toxic by-products, and see if any adverse health symptoms remain. Try the Aspartame Detoxification Program, and within 30 days your symptoms should disappear.
- Remove all sugar-free products with aspartame from your diet.
- Learn to ‘read’ your body. Begin recording any health changes.
- Get a hair analysis.
- Be happy with yourself.
- Restore depleted nutrients.
- Exercise and get plenty of rest.
- Eat 75% raw foods at every meal.
- Drink water, water, water.
- Get control of your life.
What can you do about aspartame side effects?
- Set an example by changing your diet.
- Tell everyone you know.
- Talk to the schools and day care centers. Offer to speak at parent-teachers meetings.
- Contact your local, state, and Federal government representatives.
- If you see someone with a diet drink, ask if they have had any of the typical aspartame side effects.
- Spread the word at your work.
- Distribute the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network and Pilot’s Hotline
- Tell your doctor about the scientific research available proving the negative side effects of aspartame.
- Register a complaint with the FDA, the FAA, the NutraSweet Company about aspartame poisoning.
- Return all food products with aspartame, opened or unopened, to your grocer. Tell him/her the products make you sick. The grocer can return them to the manufacturer for a store refund. The manufacturer should get the message. So, will the grocer.
- Spread the word on computer networks.
- Publish articles in newsletters at your church, place of work, or neighborhood association.
- Set a personal example for health and wellness.