Aspartame is an artificial
sweetener used in brand names such as Equal and NutraSweet.
Aspartame is also used in many of the most popular diet sodas and other
diet beverages. There are many other foods that use Aspartame to
reduce calorie of the food.
As with every chemical, and even most foods, there are chances of
having a side effect by consuming the food, and those chances increase
the more you eat.
When talking about an additive like Aspartame, it is
important to weigh the side effects, and the odds of having a side
effect against the benefits it provides. Three of the leading
causes of death are cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Obesity is
a leading contributor to each of those causes of death. While
there are certainly better options for weight loss, switching from full
calorie to no calorie sweeteners is an appropriate step.
Aspartame became available to use in the USA about the same time
the Internet became mainstream. Because of some misinformation and
misuse of scientific data, this lead to an early major campaign against
the artificial sweetener, This campaign is believed to have been started
by the sugar industry, and unfortunately, some of the bad science and
data is still circulated to this day. We will begin by discussing the
real side effects of Aspartame, and then there will be a few comments
regarding the two major pieces of misinformation that is still out
The most commonly reported side effects of Aspartame
are mainly gastrointestinal issues like nausea, diarrhea and vomiting in
extreme cases. There are other side effects that generally involve the
loss of calories of people who switch to a non-caloric beverage after
drinking high calorie drinks for a long time. These include dizziness,
fatigue, weakness, depression, headaches and memory loss. These
symptoms are similar to those felt by people starting a crash diet. The
body is not prepared for the sudden decrease in calories. Abdominal
pains and cramping are other side effects that are reported, and are
attributed to the fact that Aspartame is not easily absorbed into the
body and can irritate the intestines as it passes through the body.
Aspartame has been claimed to produce brain
tumors. This claim is a
misinterpretation of testing done on every product. New products
undergo many tests before they are allowed onto the market. One of
those tests is referred to as mortality testing. If you are an
animal rights activist, stop reading. This test is performed on a
few hundred animals, usually rats. The test is simple, you force
the animal to ingest large amounts of the product until they die.
If they don´t die, you give them larger doses. The purpose
of the test is to determine at what level death will occur, and then
after autopsies, the cause of death is determined. This test is
done on every food, and always results in the death of the test
subjects. In the case of Aspartame, the leading cause of death was
starvation. Basically so much aspartame was given that the
intestines could not absorb other nutrients necessary for life.
The second leading cause of death were brain tumors. This test is
the root of all the rumors regarding Aspartame and brain tumors.
The fact is that no brain tumors in humans has every been attributed to
Aspartame. The amount of aspartame ingested by the rats is nearly
impossible for humans to ingest even if they were eating the raw
Aside from these side effects of Aspartame that are similar to many
other additives or medicines, there are two false side effects that need
to be discussed, they are brain tumors and methanol poisoning.
Without a good understanding of product testing and basic chemistry,
these two issues may sound serious, but they are not.
The second myth regarding Aspartame involves methanol and embalming
fluid. In a laboratory, Aspartame can be converted to many of the
same substances used in embalming fluid, however, the other chemicals
needed to achieve this process are not found in the body. The
other part of this is the rumor that Aspartame can turn into
methanol. This is correct, but so can every fruit and vegetable
and most other things we eat. Our bodies are very capable of dealing
with the methanol that is produced when we eat food.
Despite most of the more serious claims regarding Aspartame being false,
there are still plenty of serious side effects that can occur from
Aspartame. They include many digestive issues, or issues related
to low energy levels. Aspartame has been commercially available in
the USA for almost 30 years and claims of brain tumors or
methanol poisoning have never been reported regarding its use. The
health benefits, in most cases, outweigh any health concerns regarding
moderate use. But as with all food additives, moderation is the key