Aspartame is in so many things from diet drinks to chewing gum and many sugar-free foods. I am willing to bet that most people have at some point today either drank or have eaten something containing aspartame. So how can it be dangerous when it’s in so many products?
We think that by replacing sugar with an artificial sweetener we are being healthy, but the reality is that we are doing more harm to our bodies. Recent studies show that chemically modified sweeteners can damage the way our body processes sugar, leaving us susceptible to a whole host of problems.
When your body processes aspartame, part of it is broken down into methanol. Methanol is toxic in large quantities, yet smaller amounts may also be concerning when combined with free methanol because of enhanced absorption. Free methanol is present in some foods and is also created when aspartame is heated. Free methanol consumed regularly may be a problem because it breaks down into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and neurotoxin, in the body.
In addition, aspartame itself has many side effects including:
Headaches and migraines: There have been several studies that have been completed that show that people who suffer from frequent migraines could be making them worse by consuming products that contain aspartame. This information is backed up by reports of many people who suffer from what was referred to as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” This is when headaches occur after eating a meal that contains glutamates. Glutamates are a byproduct of aspartame. If you suffer from frequent headaches and consume products that contain aspartame on a regular basis, cutting it out of your diet may help to resolve these issues for you.
Mood disorders: For those who are prone to depression and even those who are not, aspartame seems to elicit further depressive episodes. Other people who consume aspartame may experience mood changes over time. This could be in the form of anxiety or frequent panic attacks. If you suffer from depression or any other type of mood disorder, avoiding aspartame is one of the best choices that you can make. Even if you are not prone to depression or other types of mood disorders, it is possible that aspartame can cause this to occur.
Weight gain: your body is designed to relate the sweet flavor to how it should be metabolized. When the sweetness is matched by the calories, the body is satisfied. When the sweet flavor is not followed by the right amount of calories, the brain does not get the same message. This can cause the brain to signal that it needs more, which messes up your metabolism.
Increased Risk of Developing Diabetes: One of the side effects of aspartame is that it can actually cause a person to develop diabetes. Since it can affect a person’s metabolism, it can also affect the way that the body gets rid of sugars. This can cause damage to the pancreas, which then causes issues with the production of insulin. If you have been diagnosed with full-blown diabetes or as a prediabetic, it is a good idea to avoid diet drinks and other foods that contain aspartame.
Metabolic Syndrome: Since aspartame messes with your metabolism, it only makes sense that it can cause this disorder to occur. There are many other factors that put you at risk for developing this syndrome. Some of these include insulin resistance, being overweight, smoking, and leading an unhealthy lifestyle, and hormonal imbalances. Making appropriate lifestyle changes while avoiding products that contain aspartame can help to control the symptoms of this disease.
Cancer: Perhaps one of the scariest side effects of consuming aspartame is that it increases the risk of developing cancer. In fact, one study that was done on animals found that even in small doses, the animals that were given aspartame were developing several types of cancer. Another important study was completed in 2012 and spanned over 20 years. This study found a clear association between the consumption of aspartame and the development of leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Heart Disease: Consuming drinks and foods that contain aspartame can increase your risk of developing heart disease. One study of almost 60,000 post-menopausal women showed that consuming just two diet drinks that contain aspartame per day can increase your risk of an early death from heart disease dramatically. If you are overweight, pre-diabetic, diabetic, or at risk for heart-related diseases genetically, it is a good idea to stay away from drinks and foods that contain aspartame as these can dramatically increase your risk of developing heart-related diseases and other health issues.
Dementia: Drinking diet soda and consuming diet foods that contain aspartame can increase your risk of developing dementia by up to three times. If your family has a history of dementia, you are already at risk for developing it. If you consume diet drinks, you are only causing this risk of developing the disease to go up. Drinking aspartame-laden drinks seems to be the worst culprit as the body breaks it down into methanol, which is converted to formaldehyde. This is quite dangerous for the entire body, but especially for the brain. When the brain cannot distinguish between the sweetness of these drinks and sugar and expects calories to follow, it can cause many different types of issues. It is important to note that aspartame found in liquid form is worse than when it is found in a powdered form such as what is used in baking. However, both are quite bad and should be avoided if possible.
Stroke: Consuming aspartame can also increase your risk of having a stroke. This makes sense when you consider that it also increases your risk of developing heart disease. One study showed that within 24 hours of giving rats aspartame in liquid form it had already been turned into methanol. This can cause oxidative stress within the brain. When the brain becomes stressed, it can cause a person to have a stroke. Not only that it can also cause seizures.
Brain Tumors: As mentioned above, one of the severe side effects of consuming aspartame is that it increases your risk of developing cancer. In addition, it can also cause tumors to develop. In fact, mice that were given aspartame almost always ended up with tumors in the brain. Most of the side effects of consuming aspartame seem to be neurological in nature. It can even mimic the symptoms of other diseases such as Cipro tendonitis, fibromyalgia, gut dysbiosis, and prediabetes. When brain tumors develop it can cause all types of health issues and may even cause personality disorders.
Overall, aspartame can cause many different types of health issues that are related to the brain. Because of this, it cannot truly be considered safe and should be avoided. Our bodies are made to utilize food, when we ingest chemical substances, such as artificial sweeteners, our bodies are put under unnecessary stress as they struggle to metabolize these chemicals. It is always better to consume whole, real foods in their natural state, such as honey, molasses, maple syrup, etc. Sweeteners should always be used sparingly and in moderation as part of a healthy diet, a little goes a long way.
Other names for Aspartame include: