If you’re still regularly consuming artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, you may want to pay specific attention to this article.
You may have been hit over the head by the media’s “belief stick” into thinking that calorie free sweeteners are safer than normal sugars because they are less likely to cause weight gain.
Unfortunately, these claims are absolutely false.
Obviously, consuming less sugar is related to better health outcomes. But switching sugar with an artificial sweetener is NOT the solution.
In fact, this can be even more detrimental to your health.
Manufacturers with the sole interest of generating profits have successfully campaigned and convinced billions of people around the world to use their harmful sweeteners. In fact, there is nothing “natural” about these chemicals.
Advertising these products as a “healthier alternative” is extremely misleading and is giving consumers a false sense of confidence in the products they ingest.
Before conducting my own research, my family (including myself) were convinced that we were doing our bodies a favor by using these artificially sweetened alternatives. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
If by chance you are already informed and avoid products containing sweeteners like aspartame, then congratulations. This article will simply justify the decision you’ve made.
What is Aspartame?
Formulated from the combination of aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol, this artificial sweetener is approximately 180 times sweeter than normal sugar. Aspartame is commonly marketed in the US and Canada as “Equal” and “NutraSweet.”
By 2009, this artificial sweetener was found in over 5,000 products such as soda, fruit juice, chewing gum, yogurt, and whey protein.
Less than a year following its initial approval in 1983 for use in beverages, the FDA received over 500 consumer reports of side effects such as nausea, headaches and vomiting associated with aspartame use.
Despite the number of complaints, the Center for Disease Control concluded that only “hypersensitive” people were experiencing reactions and closed the case based on a lack of evidence citing its dangers.
Side Effects of Artificial Sweeteners
Two of the main amino acids found in aspartame are aspartic acid and phenylalanine. In fact, they are both found naturally in unprocessed foods.
The problem arises when they are manipulated in the laboratory and ingested in ratios that are disproportionate to those of other amino acids found in our diet.
When consumed in abnormally high amounts like those found in artificial sweeteners, these amino acids can induce toxicity which can lead to a variety of problems including headaches, dizziness, cancer, brain damage, and even weight gain.
Aspartic acid is a neurotransmitter which is a chemical substance that can damage the brain due to over-stimulation.
Fortunately, brain damage doesn’t occur when normal amounts are consumed. But at higher doses, aspartic acid can cross the blood brain barrier and wreak havoc.
About 50% of aspartame is metabolized to phenylalanine which can cause brain damage particularly in humans who have a genetic disorder known as phenylketonuria (PKU).
An individual with PKU cannot break down phenylalanine which can lead to a dangerous build up and cause retardation.
Even individuals with a partially defective gene can only metabolize phenylalanine at 50% of the normal human rate. As a result, this slower breakdown can potentially lead to harmful levels and thus cause brain damage.
About 10% of aspartame is also converted to methanol which in turn converts to formaldehyde and formate.
Formaldehyde is a product used in common household items like paint remover. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shown that formaldehyde is a direct cause of cancer in animal studies and classifies it as a “probable human carcinogen.”
Evidence is currently lacking a on a proper safety limit of formaldehyde ingestion. The EPA simply states that the risk of harm depends on how much and how long you’ve been taking it.
Though people typically use them to lose weight, research studies have shown that artificial sweeteners may actually be associated with weight gain.
A possible explanation for this is that calorie free sweeteners offer partial, but incomplete satisfying of your food reward pathway. As a result of incomplete satisfaction, this may lead to increased appetite and consequently, enhanced food cravings and consumption.
What About Sucralose and Other Sweeteners?
Regarding other artificial sweeteners like sucralose, there simply isn’t enough long term safety data to justify their use in humans.
In fact, the longest trial measuring human toxicity, which was published after the FDA approved sucralose for human consumption, lasted only 3 months. This is hardly a sufficient duration, since people will obviously consume it for a longer period of time.
Despite the lack of human trials, there have been many high quality studies performed in rats. Recent studies have shown associations between artificial sweeteners and kidney toxicity, liver toxicity, and retardation of fetal development.
The Bottom Line
You may not even be aware that you are experiencing side effects from artificial sweeteners. Several individuals simply don’t make the connection since it is found in many common food items which are simply ignored.
Instead of reacting only when you start feeling ill, you can get a head start and focus on preventing the problem before it happens. Although your body may not be experiencing any immediate effects, it wouldn’t hurt to remove artificial sweeteners from your diet to prevent any long term health consequences.
And if you workout, do yourself a favor and get a protein powder without artificial sweetener.