Health and Fitness Home



Why You Might Want to Avoid Aspartame

Why Would You Want to Avoid Aspartame?

For someone's who's trying to lose weight, whether it be a hundred or just a few, using artificial sweeteners may seem like a slam-dunk. I mean, you don't really have to change your lifestyle. Just substitute aspartame or Splenda for the sugar you're eating (or drinking in the form of soda) and lose a pound or two a week, right? Well, sugar (and high fructose corn syrup, which has taken sugar's place in most commercial products) is definitely something you want to avoid as much as possible. But replacing it with many of the available artificial sweeteners just might be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. In this article we'll take a look at one artificial sweetener in particular - aspartame.

Aspartame is made up of three components. Half of it is something called phenylalanine, forty percent is aspartic acid, and ten percent is methanol, which you may know as wood alcohol. Phenylalanine and aspartic acid are both amino acids, which occur naturally in the protein foods we eat, which serve as the building blocks for our body's tissue and muscle. However, naturally occuring amino acids are not ingested alone. Many types of amino acids are joined together to form protein chains, and that is the way we normally take them in when we have a meal. Phenylalanine and aspartic acid are the only amino acids in aspartame. There is no protein chain. It's been shown that aspartic acid consumed singularly will enter the central nervous system in concentrated form and cause rapid firing of neurons. Many times, it excites the neurons so completely that the cell dies. High levels of aspartic acid have been found to cause confusion, headaches, balance problems, and even seizures. And the rest of your body fares no better. Isolated aspartic acid has also been shown to accelerate diseases such as cancer, coronary artery disease and arthritis. Fortunately, if you stop ingesting isolated aspartic acid, then the accumulating damage will also stop.

As far as the phenylalanine as found in aspartame, the research has found that excessive levels of this amino acid cause a decrease in the amount of serotonin in our brains. Decreased serotonin levels frequently lead to depression and other emotional disorders. Additionally, when phenylalanine is exposed to warm temperatures, or is stored for a long time, it breaks down into diketopiperazine or DKP, which is a known carcinogen. Also note that phenylalanine will easily cross the placental barrier in pregnant women. It also crosses the blood-brain barrier in infants, who when exposed to high levels of phenylalanine during the pregnancy and later through their mother's milk, have an increased risk of birth defects and irreversible brain damage.

As we stated, the third component of aspartame is methanol. Methanol is commonly known as wood alcohol. It is a colorless, poisonous, and flammable liquid. Repeated exposure to methanol can cause blindness and death. Symptoms of methanol poisoning include headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal problems, chills, memory lapses, and numbness in the extremities. Another wonderful aspect of methanol is that at cold temperatures it creates formaldehyde. The EPA classifies methanol as a cumulative poison, and recommends a limit of no more than 7.8mg per day. So how does that relate to the amount contained in a serving of aspartame? Well, one liter of diet soda contains 56mg of methanol. That's more than seven times the EPA stated limit! It certainly wouldn't be out of the rdinary for a typical user of sugar substitutes to drink several diet sodas, take a couple of packages of aspartame in morning coffee, and ingest various portions of assorted "diet" food during the day. You can see that, to put it mildly, this person would be exposed to considerably more than the 7.8mg per day methanol limit.

After reading this, you're probably wondering why the FDA would approve it if it wasn't safe. It's difficult to give you a concise answer on that, but please bear with me while I outline just a few of the events that occurred during the FDA approval process of aspartame. In 1965, James Schlatter, a chemist at the G.D. Searle Company who was trying to create a new ulcer drug, stumbled across aspartame. It was initially approved for use in dry goods on July 26, 1974. But some researchers questioned the practices of Searle, so the FDA put the approval on hold pending further investigation. A task force was created to examine aspartame, and their final report found that there were serious deficiencies in the company's research, and made the recommendation that G.D. Searle face a Grand Jury for further inquiry.

In 1976, a second task force was created, this time finding Searle guilty of faulty and fraudulent product testing and knowingly misrepresenting product testing and findings. Officials at the Searle Company decided that one Donald Rumsfield, who had been associated with both the Nixon and Ford administrations would make a good company chairman. Of course, this decision had absolutely nothing to do with his goverment connections.... In 1977, the FDA appointed U.S. Attorney Samuel Skinner to investigate Searle's testing procedures. After meeting with Searle's attorneys, Skinner left the FDA and accepted a position with Searle's law firm. The FDA then appointed U.S. Attorney William Conlon to take Skinner's place. Conlon did nothing with the case, and after leaving the FDA in 1979 also joined Searle's law firm. In 1981 the FDA approved aspartame for use in dry foods and as a tabletop sweetener. Three FDA scientists came forward to oppose the approval, based on their in-house studies of the additive, but they were ignored and aspartame was approved. The head of the FDA at that time, Arthur Hayes, then left the FDA and took a position as a senior medical consultant for the public relations firm that worked with the G.D. Searle Company. Ultimately, the statue of limitations ran out on prosecuting the G.D. Searle Company for wrongdoing.

So, Are there dangers associated with the use of aspartame? I'll let you decide.

Air & Water Purifiers
Why You Might Want to Avoid Aspartame | Copyright © 2006-2017 | About/Contact | Privacy/Legal