For anyone out there who is still ingesting products that include artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, today’s blog topic is for you. Aspartame is sold under the brand names of NutraSweet and Equal. You can find these brightly colored packets at most coffee shops and restaurants (along with other unhealthy artificial sweeteners). Aspartame is found in thousands of products, including carbonated soft drinks, powdered soft drinks, chewing gum, candy, gelatins, dessert mixes, yogurt, puddings and fillings, and sugar-free cough drops.
Unfortunately, manufacturers and marketers alike have worked feverishly to convince us that the chemicals used in artificially sweetened products are safe. Many of us now know this is blatantly untrue. It’s a sad fact of life that corporations, government-sponsored regulatory agencies, and politicians are more motivated by their wallets than protecting our health. However, the good news for consumers is that since aspartame was one of the first types of artificial sweeteners on the market, there’s been enough time to research and publicize the ill effects it has on our health. In fact, the FDA has received more reports on the negative health reactions of aspartame than for all other food additives put together.
The Health Dangers
The breakdown products of both methanol and phenylalanine, two of the main ingredients in aspartame, can turn into known carcinogens in your body. Methanol, specifically, turns into formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, used in paint removers, embalming fluid, and other toxic products, is poisonous to the human body and the EPA has determined it causes cancer in humans. Interestingly enough, the rise in breast and prostate cancers is directly correlated with the increase in use of aspartame. Remember, there is no “safe” level of formaldehyde in your body.
Migraines are perhaps the most frequently reported negative reaction to aspartame. Other reactions include headache, memory loss, vision changes, dizziness, insomnia, convulsions and seizures, depression, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, joint pain. And if anyone out there is still convinced that artificial sweeteners can help with weight loss, think again. Studies have shown that the two main ingredients in aspartame actually stimulate the hormones instructing your body to store fat. Additionally, serotonin levels can be lowered by aspartame ingestion. Low levels of serotonin trigger food cravings, ultimately leading to weight gain. Studies in humans have indicated that consumption of artificially sweetened beverages is also associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.
The Bottom Line
For years now, we’ve all been told to limit the intake of sugars. The better message is to limit intake of all sweeteners, period.
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