On to the next ingredient in my series explaining my Top 5 Ingredients I Avoid When Shopping post. (If you missed it, just click on the title in that last sentence and you can get caught up.) Today we talk about artificial sweeteners. This can include aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, acesulfame K, neotame and probably more that I’m not remembering or that are still in the lab and will come out any day now!
In ‘studying’ to write this post, one of the most disturbing things was at the very beginning of my search. If you type “artificial sweeteners” into your google search bar, the first page of links are all health related and contain the terms, “cancer” and “most dangerous”. Not good!
For the purposes of keeping this post as simple and easy to understand as possible, I am going to concentrate on aspartame. The post would be 5 pages long (or longer) if I went into each one!
According to an article on Medicine Net , it was concluded after numerous studies that aspartame was safe with a daily intake of 40 mg/kg/day, except for people with phenylketonuria.
I’m sure you’ve seen the word before. There is a phenylketonuria warning on all packages of things with aspartame… you know, the usual, “I’m covering my hind end warning”. Just like the warnings on cigarettes.
So, what it is phenylketonuria?
It is a genetic disease in which you are missing an enzyme needed to break down phenylalanine. If phenylalanine builds up in the body (due to it not being broken down) it is harmful to the central nervous system and causes brain damage.
The reason you can’t have aspartame if you have this disease is because aspartame is made up of phenylalanine, along with aspartic acid and methanol.
If you don’t have phenylketonuria you might be wondering why you need to bother avoiding aspartame. Here’s why… there have been reports of aspartame causing the following problems (this is just a sampling of the problems it can cause):
- Aspartame disease (yes, you read that correctly. Apparently, someone knows this stuff is bad if they are willing to name a disease after it!)
- Birth defects
- Increased hunger (interesting, seeing how they put it in diet drinks)
Here is a great article on the rest of the side effects of aspartame (the side effects are lengthy!).
I hope this gives you a little insight as to why it would be a good thing to cut this out of your diet… or at the very least try to avoid it. I know this was all about aspartame and how it’s evil, but remember sucralose, saccharin, acesulfame K, and neotame are all on that nasty list as well. When you are in a restaurant and need a sweetener, stay away from the yellow and pink packets and go for the white… or the brown if the restaurant has raw sugar.
Tomorrow’s post is the last of this series and will talk about glutamates.
See you then!