|In response to the studies about the dangers of saccharin, along came aspartame. Most of us know it as Nutrasweet or Equal. It comes in little, blue packets to put in your tea or coffee, in large packets for sweetening berries and cereal, and in almost every type of diet or low calorie food and beverage. But what exactly is aspartame?
Aspartame is a chemical concoction made of:
- 40% aspartic acid - an excitotoxin that excites or stimulates neural (brain) cells to death
- 50% phenylalanine - an amino acid normally found in the brain but dangerous to humans when concentrated at high levels
- 10% methanol - wood alcohol known to be a deadly poison
Leading physicians and scientists have appeared before the US Congress concerning disabilities, illnesses, allergies, and conditions caused by the long-term use of aspartame. In fact, a particular case study was presented to Congress by Dr. John Cook in which he chronicled the deterioration of a patient who had been consuming 6-8 diet soft drinks per day. The aspartame, particularly the phenylalanine, had caused migraines, weight gain, memory loss, and other health problems for that patient, as well as many others.
Phenylalanine is dangerous to anyone with phenylketonuria (PKU) but studies have shown that even people without PKU can succumb to the levels of phenylalanine in aspartame sweetened foods and beverages. Some of the health problems directly associated with high phenylalanine levels are:
- brain cancer
- brain tumors
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- damage to fetus or infants
- depression (aspartame prevents the proper function of some antidepressants)
- emotional disorders
- irregular heartbeats
- joint pain
- memory loss
- menstrual problems (missed periods, clotting, frequency)
- mental retardation
- muscle spasms
- problems for schizophrenics (aspartame prevents the proper function of some anti-schizophrenic medications)
- vision problems (blurred vision)
- weight gain
UPDATE: It has been brought to our attention that the negative information presented on this page may provide misleading information to our visitors. Although we have devoted countless hours to review of this subject, we encourage our visitors to look beyond FoodandDiet to other sources before beginning or ending their use of aspartame as a sugar substitute.
We recommend that additional investigation of aspartame begin at www.dorway.com. With more than 8,000 pages of information about aspartame, it is probably the most comprehensive site on the subject. Of course, it doesn't provide positive information about aspartame. For that kind of information, you can visit Monsanto's website and review their marketing materials.
If you would like to review the FDAs position on aspartame, you can review the article by John Henkel by clicking here.
UPDATE 2: A review of NutraSweet and Equal packages at the food store revealed that they both contain three ingredients--dextrose, maltodextrin, and aspartame. Dextrose is a sweetener. Maltodextrin is a solids builder and drying agent. Neither dextrose nor maltodextrin are known to have any side effects. However, if you have allergies to corn or wheat, speak with your doctor before consuming dextrose or maltodextrin.
A thorough discussion with your physician is in order if you believe you are suffering ill effects from the use of aspartame or related products.