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of aspartame: is it really a silent killer?
of the most heated discussions on health nowadays, are the dangers of aspartame.
That's not really surprising, because the dangers
of artificial sweeteners are such that they tend to cause a whole array of
health problems, ranging from hair loss and shortness of breath to all
sorts of gastric distress.
believe to have found a direct link between mass consumption of
aspartame and the increasing number of patients with Parkinson's
disease and Alzheimer's disease.
So how is it that this sweetener still receives the unshakable faith
and approval of the Food And Drug Administration, while stevia
and the FDA just can't seem to get along? How did the FDA
come to back it up in the first place? To find out, we have to go back
to where it all began...
Aspartame was first discovered
back in 1965 by a scientist called James Schlatter, who was looking for
an ulcer medicine
at the time. He added methanol to a mixture of two amino acids:
aspartic acid and phenylalanine, and discovered that the new substance
had a particularly sweet taste. Note: methanol is lethal in high quantities,
without its natural antidote ethanol. Both of these substances can be
found in various fruits (which contain ten times more ethanol than
methanol). Aspartame, however, does not contain ethanol!
Early studies indicated that there were a lot of potential risks in
consuming aspartame, and the FDA actually banned the sweetener for some
time. The shift came in 1981, after the inauguration of Ronald Reagan.
Although scientific studies didn't agree whether aspartame was safe or
harmful, the sweetener was approved thanks to a lot of political
lobbying. The first soda's with aspartame hit the shelves in 1983,
despite vigurous protest from the National Soft Drink Association.
I'm not going to go into the whole history of aspartame here. If you're
interested in learning more about the dubious history of the sweetener,
check out how
aspartame became legal.
The FDA claims that enough research has gone into aspartame over the
years to prove to the public that it's safe for consumption. They fail
to mention though that most of this research was conducted by aspartame producing companies,
and that most of the independent research (ignored by the FDA) points
out that there are indeed malign side effects to consuming aspartame.
Various doctors have reported symptoms of aspartame use to the FDA, but
the allegations were labeled as fiction.
Some of the reported short-term dangers of aspartame measured in large
test groups throughout the 1980's include (among many others):
Long-term dangers are harder to blame directly on aspartame, but many
MD's believe it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that
the artificial sweetener heightens the risk of developing (among many
- Headaches and dizziness
- Blurred vision
- Ringing of the
- Depression and
- Heart rhytmn
- Nausea and diarrhea
Exposing aspartame to temperatures over 85°F (30°C) causes it to break
up into DKP and formaldehyde, which in themselves are toxic. Some
that poor storage of diet soda's may have contributed to the
development of Gulf War
Syndrome in veterans.
- Chronic Fatigue
with the suggested dangers
of stevia and probably many
other products, for each study that points out the possible dangers of
aspartame, there is another one to refute it.
are a lot of pro and con websites out there, and at the end
of the day it's always best to use your own judgement. Because whatever
the case may be, it's hard to deny that something sure smells like
fresh dollar bills. Me, I like to err on the side of caution...
to Stevia sweetener