The truth about artificial sweeteners (aspartame) and how they can affect your body
Do you sweeten your tea or coffee with artificial sweeteners? Have you ever had a piece of chewing gum, or a can of diet coke? If so then please read ahead to find out the hidden truths to artificial sweeteners and how they can affect your body.
What is Aspartame?
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in foods, drinks, chewing gum, and children’s medicines commonly found in your local supermarket. It was created by a company in 1965 who were trying to create an anti-ulcer drug and in the process noticed its sweet taste. In 1975 the FDA (food and drugs administration in America) reported “serious deficiencies in Searle’s operations and practices”, meaning that the tests and studies needed to validate aspartame’s safety wasn’t up to the required standards. Yet the market demanded a product like this; zero calories, high taste, and cheap to manufacture. Needless to say by 1983 aspartame was approved to be used in carbonated drinks and baked goods, and by 1993 in confectionary.
NutraSweet, Equal, AminoSweet are examples of multimillion dollar companies who manufacture and distribute aspartame based products. You will find them in: Coca cola, Pepsi, table sweeteners, children’s cough syrups, chewing gum, diet products (cordial, yoghurt, cakes, lollies etc), and protein powders, just to name a few.
What are the Risks?
The suggested negative effects aspartame can have on your health are; increased risk of cancer, anxiety, depression, and other mood related disorders, memory loss, headaches, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, blindness, diabetes, obesity, muscle spasms, seizures, insomnia, just to name a few. Unfortunately the governing bodies who control what stays in our supermarkets and what goes, say they do not to have enough evidence to substantiate the claims. Even though numerous studies performed on rats, and thousands of anecdotal claims have proven the common link between aspartame and ill health.
My experience with Aspartame
I have had numerous patients come to me in my clinic with headaches, anxiety and depression who have a moderate to high intake of foods containing artificial sweeteners (1 diet coke a day, up to people who live solely on equal sugar substitute and diet products). It’s no coincidence that when you assess their diet and start to replace these foods and drinks with healthier alternatives that their symptoms slowly start to reduce, and in some cases disappear. The changes you can make to your diet by removing these foods won’t only assist you in limiting your aspartame intake, but also increase the amount of nutrient dense, fresh food, full of vitamins and minerals. Instead of a diet coke, have a sparkling water with fresh lime. Instead of chewing gum, carry a spare toothbrush in your bag and brush your teeth, and instead of buying diet products like ‘diet’ yoghurt opt for a natural one. Your headaches might reduce and your energy and sleeping patterns will improve dramatically!
When it comes to feeding your kids, or having an afternoon snack, you want to make sure you are doing the best you can, so check the label for the following: aspartame, saccharin, E951. If the product contains any of these ingredients put it back and look for another.
What about the natural alternatives like stevia and xylitol?
I think it’s better to just avoid them all together. They can come in handy when some-one is highly addicted to artificial sweeteners to wean them down, but once the sugar cravings reduce I think it is better to avoid all imitation sweeteners (regardless if they are natural or not).
That pretty much summarises what I was trying to get across. Please think about what you put into your body, and the long term effects it might have. Even though aspartame may not be ‘proven’ to harm your health now, more and more evidence suggests it can have serious effects on our bodies. So read your food labels, and try a healthier alternative.
For more information, or if you would like to look into this further for yourself contact me via Facebook, website, phone, or email and we can make an appointment to get you back on track!