If you knowingly consume Artificial sweeteners, then I highly recommend you read this, however unfortunately many unknowingly consume it, as its a very well hidden product, in over 5000 thousand foods, including chewing gum, soft drinks, jelly and childrens medicines.
Aspartame is considered by many health experts as the most dangerous food additive on the market. Its a highly controversial and complex issue because the organisations declaring its safety are numerous and very powerful.
So with two sides, both with their independent experts, it comes down to whom do you trust?
The following points will be examined:
History of aspartame Where can aspartame be found? The two opposing teams Symptoms of aspartame poisoning The science behind aspartame Alternatives to an alternative
Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It was discovered by accident in 1965 by James Schlatter, a chemist of G.D. Searle Company. Schlatter was testing an anti-ulcer drug, when he discovered this sweet product. (3)
Searle saw its promise as a sweetener but was repeatedly refused by the FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration) because of safety concerns.
In 1977 Donald Rumsfeld, now George Bush’s defence secretary but then chief executive of the pharmaceutical company GD Searle, publicly stated that he would “call in his markers” to win a licence for aspartame. On the day of his inauguration as president in 1981, with Mr Rumsfeld on his transition team, Ronald Reagan personally wrote an executive order suspending the head of the US Food and Drug Administration’s powers on aspartame. One month later Mr Reagan appointed a new head of the regulatory authority, Arthur Hayes, who granted a licence for the sweetener. (1)
Is this the tale of more shady U.S government dealings? or is it just another conspiracy theory?
In 1996 a review of aspartame research found that every single industry-funded study found aspartame safe. But 92% of independent studies identified one or more problems with its safety. (1)
In the Food and Drug Administrations Final Decision on aspartames approval (Fed. Reg. 46:38289, 1981), the Commissioner stated:
“Few compounds have withstood such detailed testing and repeated, close scrutiny, and the process through which aspartame has gone should provide the public with additional confidence of its safety.” (2)
What kind of products contains aspartame?
Aspartame is used in almost 5000 products around the world, of which more than 2000 are consumed in Europe. Aspartame can be found in a wide variety of food products including:
Carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, squashes, iced teas and coffees and hot chocolate drinks.
Yoghurts, dairy desserts and fromage frais.
Chewing gum, sweets, chocolate, breath mints.
Tablets and spoon-for-spoon powders.
Ice cream and frozen snacks.
Powdered soft drinks, milkshake mixes, and multivitamin drinks.
Cereal mixes, mueslis.
Fruit preserves, canned fruits.
Effervescent tablets, chewable tablets and sachets.
Organisations that “apparently” give aspartame thumbs up:
Alzheimers Association, American Academy of Family Physicians ,American Cancer Society, American Council on Science and Health American Diabetes Association, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America Diabetes U.K. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Canadian Diabetes Association, Mayo Clinic, National Cancer Institute U.K. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), US. Consumer Information Centre, World Health Organization, U.K. Food Standards Agency, U.S. FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (According to the aspartame information centre) (2)
Thats a very powerful and influential list.
Organisations and individuals calling for its removal:
I have lost count of the number of organisations against aspartame, however they are much smaller in size and lesser known; many have been formed by victims. The film Sweet Misery is an excellent resource and shows the aspartame story in shocking detail; its packed with leading experts and victims personal accounts. You can check it out at: www.aspartamekills.com
The latest lawsuit filed is a $350 million class action filed on September 15, 2004 in United States District Court in San Francisco, California, case no: C 04 3872. This class action racketeering (RICO) lawsuit was filed against the NutraSweet Corporation, American Diabetes Association, Dr. Robert H. Moser and John Does 1-50. Plaintiffs maintain that this lawsuit will prove how deadly the chemical sweetener aspartame is when consumed by humans. The National Justice League filed three other lawsuits on April 26, 2004, in three separate California courts. (4)
Here are some other helpful links to find out more on aspartame:
www.presidiotex.com/aspartame/ (victims support group)
Symptoms of Aspartame Intoxication:
Complaints about aspartame represent 80-85% of all food complaints registered with the FDA. More than 6,000 complaints have been made concerning the effects of aspartame. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death. (3)
The symptoms of aspartame intoxication include:
· severe headaches and nausea
· loss of control of limbs
· blurred vision and blindness
· memory loss
· slurred speech
· mild to severe depression often reaching suicidal levels
· gastrointestinal disorders
· skin lesions and rashes
· anxiety attacks
· muscle and joint pain
· mood changes
· loss of energy
· menstrual cramps out of cycle
· hearing loss or ringing in the ears
· loss or change of taste
· symptoms similar to those in a heart attack.
· additionally, aspartic acid chelates (combines) with chromium – which is a necessary element for proper operation of the thyroid gland. People who consume large quantities of aspartame may end up with a false diagnosis of Graves disease and suffer allopathic irradiation of their thyroid gland for no reason. (3)
The science behind aspartame
Aspartame is the methyl ester of the dipeptide of the natural amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine. Under strongly-acidic or -alkaline conditions, aspartame first generates methanol by hydrolysis. Under more severe conditions, the peptide bonds are also hydrolyzed, resulting in the free amino acids.(5) Got that?
Ok, here the English version. J
There are four chemical components of aspartame that scientists and physicians are currently debating over that may be causing or adversely effecting peoples health (5):
Scientists agree that approximately 10% of aspartame (by weight) is broken down into methanol in the small intestine. Now most of that methanol is absorbed and quickly converted into formaldehyde (yes, the embalming substance).
Some scientists believe that the methanol can not be a problem because:
a) the level of methanol absorbed is too low to cause toxicity
b) methanol and formaldehyde are already in the body as a by-product of human metabolism
c) many alcoholic beverages and fruit juices contain more methanol than is derived from aspartame ingestion
About 50% of aspartame (by weight) is broken down into phenylalanine, which actually is an amino acid commonly found in foods. But because aspartame is metabolized and absorbed very quickly (unlike phenylalanine-containing proteins in foods), it is thought that aspartame could spike blood plasma levels of phenylalanine. The concern is that this could have a neurotoxic effect particularly in the brain of fetuses by the sudden influx of phenylalanine into the bloodstream because phenylalanine competes with other Large Neutral Amino Acids (LNAAs) for entry into the brain at the blood brain barrier.
3. Aspartic acid
Aspartic acid is another amino acid commonly found in foods. Around 40% of aspartame (by mass) is broken down into aspartic acid. Aspartic acid is known chemically as an excitotoxin, another famous example is monosodium glutamate (MSG). Hundreds of animals studies involving abnormally high levels of excitotoxins have been shown to cause damage to areas of the brain unprotected by the blood-brain barrier and a variety of chronic diseases arising out of this neurotoxicity. In 1970’s, Dr. John Olney found that high levels of aspartic acid caused damage to the brains of infant mice. Which led to Dr. Olney and consumer attorney, James Turner, filing a protest with the FDA to block the approval of aspartame.
4. Aspartylphenylalanine diketopiperazine (DKP)
This substance is created as aspartame breaks down over time. One group of researchers found that 6 months after aspartame was put into carbonated beverages 25% of the aspartame had been converted to DKP. Concern amongst some scientists has been expressed that this form of DKP would undergo a nitrosation process in the stomach producing a type of chemical that could cause brain tumors. However there are very few human studies on the effects of this.
So what are the alternatives to this alternative (interesting concept)?
Raw honey is an obvious choice (but avoid heating honey as it can become a carcinogen).
Another natural product is called stevia that comes from a herb.
It has been used for centuries by traditional South American cultures and is very popular in Japan. You can generally find it in health food stores in liquid or powder form.
So where does this leave us with so many experts on either side of the fence?
My first question with any product when considering its safety is: is it man made?
If so, has it been consumed for a long time?
In this case the answer is clearly no.
Which leads me to my final question, is it worth the risk?
Your 3d Coach
(1) Safety of artificial sweetener called into question by MP Felicity Lawrence, December 15, 2005, The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/food/Story/0,,1667771,00.html
(2) Aspartame Information Sevice, http://www.aspartame.info
(4) News with views, http://www.newswithviews.com/BreakingNews/breaking25.htm