Aspartame - the sweet poison
What is it? Aspartame is one of the most dangerous substances that is added to food. It is sold under the brand names Equal and NutraSweet. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener/sugar substitute and one of the most common sweeteners used today. It is a white crystalline powder made up of three chemicals - aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, but contains no calories.
How does it work? Aspartame works as an excitotoxin, stimulating a response in cells to simulate the effects of sweetness without actually being sweet. Over exertion of these cells leads to the various health conditions that currently wreak havoc on the public.
Where is it? Aspartame is found in products such as Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, chewing gum, sugar-free products, table top sweeteners, flavored water, drink powders, weight watchers products, cereals and cooking sauces. (Just to name a few). There are now over 6,000 manufactured products on the market that contain this deadly chemical and there will be thousands more introduced. To identify aspartame in food, check the ingredients (it can be listed as additive 951 or 962). There will also be a warning that the product contains phenylalanine.
Why is it bad for me? Aspartame is especially deadly to diabetics. The aspartame keeps the blood sugar level out of control, this has caused patients to go into a coma, which can result in death. Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration). Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death. A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, Dizziness, Seizures, Nausea, Numbness, Muscle spasms, Weight gain, Rashes, Depression, Fatigue, Irritability, Tachycardia Insomnia, Vision problems, Hearing loss, Heart palpitations, Breathing difficulties, Anxiety attack, Slurred speech, Loss of taste, Tinnitus, Vertigo, Memory loss, Joint pain.
The safety of aspartame has been studied extensively since its discovery with research that includes animal studies with aspartame being one of the most rigorously tested food ingredients to date. Over a billion people consume aspartame in their foods and beverages across the world, believing it to be a safe ingredient. The Philippines have banned products containing aspartame from entering their country due to harmful effects and there are more countries about to follow.
What are the alternatives? To avoid added aspartame in your diet, select regular foods and avoid sugar-free or no sugar added products. Try to get used to the natural sweetness in foods. Add honey to your tea, choose products sweetened with fruit juice. Stevia is another alternative.
If you're still not convinced by the history of aspartame or its harmful ingredients and are using it to help control your weight, think again. There is so much conflicting information out there saying aspartame is good and bad for you so at the end of the day it is up to you to decide for yourself if it is something you want to include in your diet. Remember that aspartame is an 'artificial' sweetener. Anything artificial is not natural so you have to ask yourself 'how good can it be?'
Here is a list of all the products in New Zealand that contain Aspartame.