Aspartame is a substance used as a sugar substitute and is commonly used in diet sodas, yogurts, and snacks. It is a manmade sweetener with two primary ingredients: aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
- Aspartic acid – It is a non-essential amino acid found in sugar cane and in the human body. In the human body, aspartic acid is used to create hormones as well as support the functions of the nervous system.
- Phenylalanine – It is an essential amino acid found in the milk of mammals. It is not produced in the body. Its source is food such as lean meats, nuts, edible seeds, and dairy products. Phenylalanine is used by the body to create proteins, hormones, and brain chemicals.
Note: Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. Manufacturers only need to use a little amount of sugar to make their products sweet. (1, 2, 3, and 4)(The harmful effect of aspartame on the body.)
Is aspartame harmful to the body?
There are a lot of claims that aspartame when taken in huge amount can be harmful to the body. Too much intake of aspartame is linked with various medical conditions such as:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Confusion and memory loss
- Vision-related problems
Why food companies use aspartame if it is dangerous to one’s health?
Food companies prefer aspartame over other types of sugar primarily because of its long shelf life. It can last for hundreds of days. Some of the industries that use aspartame include the following:
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Beverages companies
- Manufacturers of teas, yogurts, gums, and coffees.
Note: Aspartame is not used in baking products because it breaks down in extreme temperature. Once aspartame breaks down, it can no longer retain its sweet flavor. (2, 3, 4, and 5)
Daily intake of aspartame can be potentially dangerous to one’s health. Too much intake of aspartame can lead to aspartame poisoning. Research showed that millions of people across the globe are suffering from aspartame poisoning and they are not even aware of it. It is important to know how to identify aspartame poisoning symptoms. The signs of aspartame poisoning vary depending on the person’s immune system and genetic individuality. Below are the signs and symptoms of aspartame poisoning:
- Reduction in night-time vision.
- Blurring of the eyes
- Gradual loss of vision/tunnel vision
- Throbbing in the eyes which could eventually result in bulging of the eyes and possible blindness.
- Eye dryness
- Tinnitus (ringing of the ears)
- Noise intolerance and possible loss of hearing
- Severe sleepiness
- Restlessness of the legs
- Severe migraine
- Numbing of the limbs
- Slurred speech
- Memory loss
- Tremors in some parts of the body
- Suicidal tendencies
- Pain in the chest secondary to palpitations and breathing problems.
- High blood pressure
- Irregular beating of the heart
- Bloody diarrhea
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Severe itching of the skin
- Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth/lips.
- Weight loss/weight gain
- Diabetes (5, 6, 7, and 8)
Dangers of aspartame poisoning
Aspartame is extremely dangerous when taken in huge amount. Pregnant women and children are highly discouraged to take foods/beverages containing aspartame. Aspartame is also linked with almost a hundred health symptoms and is one of the roots of many modern diseases. (6, 7)
Does aspartame cause brain damage?
Too much intake of aspartame will inhibit the ability of enzymes found in the brain to function the way they expect them to be. A high dose of aspartame can lead to neurological and behavioral disturbances, especially in sensitive individuals. Once you take in aspartame, the level of aspartate in the blood increases leading to a high level of neurotransmitter in some parts of the brain and will slowly destroy neurons. The brain cells will gradually die but you will not be able to notice the symptoms until 75% of your brain is affected. (6, 7, and 8)
Diagnosing Aspartame Poisoning
There are various procedures used to diagnose aspartame poisoning. Some doctors request for a complete blood count while others need further testing method such as hair test. (6, 7)
How to deal with aspartame poisoning?
If the person turned out to be positive with aspartame poisoning, the best approach is to immediately eliminate foods containing aspartame. Such as cereals, diet soda, gelatin mixes, and powdered drink mixes, to name a few. It would take roughly around 60 days after eliminating aspartame in your diet to notice changes in the body. Depending on the severity of aspartame poisoning, your doctor might put you on a detox supplement and other aspartame eliminating methods such as infrared saunas. This will go on until such time that no traces of aspartame are detected in your body. (7, 8, and 9)
What can you do to prevent aspartame poisoning?
- Stay away from foods or beverages containing aspartame. Make it a habit to read the label of anything you eat to make sure it is free from aspartame.
- Take proactive steps in informing the public about the danger of aspartame. Many people are unaware of the ill effect aspartame brings to their body. To be honest, a lot of people don’t even know that what they are eating or drinking has aspartame in it.
- Eliminate foods made from processed sweets and switch to healthy sweeteners. A perfect alternative to aspartame includes stevia leaf, fruit, and dried fruit, and raw honey. (5, 7, and 9)
What is the safest sugar substitute?
- Erythritol – A small amount of erythritol does not cause any danger to the body. A small amount of erythritol can be found in some fruits and table sugar.
- Xylitol – It is a sugar alcohol naturally found in birch and other plants. It tastes as sweet as the table sugar.
- Stevia leaf extracts – It is one of the safest sugar substitutes and has long been used in Japan. (4, 6, and 8)
Is Stevia healthier than sugar?(Stevia is one of the healthiest sugar substitutes.)
Sugar is extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets. The extracts are turned into white crystalline table sugar. Stevia is extracted from stevia rebaudiana; an herb native in Brazil and Paraguay. Stevia leaves contain glycosides; a substance that gives stevia its sweet flavor. What makes stevia a better choice is that it is 300 times sweeter than sugar once refined and has low calories. A packet of stevia only has five calories and about 1 gram of carbohydrates. A liquid form of stevia does not contain any calories.
Is Stevia healthier than sugar? The answer is a big YES! It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008. By substituting sugar with stevia, you will be able to reduce your overall caloric intake, which helps prevent obesity and obesity-related conditions like high cholesterol level and cardiovascular-related diseases. (2, 4, 8, 9, and 10)