Aspartame is the food additive that usually lurks behind low-sugar products. We have been drinking and eating so often since the 90s. Is this consumption safe for your health? What will you think about this sweetener after I’ll tell you about the 92 side effects of Aspartame, which are officially recognized by the FDA?
This sweetener is one of the most used by the agri-food industry. It was discovered in 1965 and put on the market for the first time in the United States in 1974. In France, it was authorized in 1981.
Aspartame is a non-nutritive sweetener, a substance that has a sweetness much higher than that of sucrose (sugar), of the order of 200 times, and that can replace it in foods and beverages, without adding calories in appreciable quantity.
Aspartame is used either as a table sweetener (sweeteners) or as an ingredient added to foods and beverages under different brand names: AminoSweet, NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, Equal-Measure.
It has been awarded the E951 reference in the European Union and is used in around 6000 food products in more than 90 countries worldwide. It is also used in many pharmaceutical specialties.
1 – The History of Aspartame
Aspartame was accidentally discovered by James Schlatter, a chemist from the Searle pharmaceutical company who was doing research on anti-ulcer remedies. Of course, those 92 Side Effects of Aspartame were not known at the beginning.
Authorized as a food additive in 1974 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), aspartame will then be produced by Searle under the name Nutrasweet. But doubts are quickly expressed about the objectivity of the studies conducted by Searle, prompting the FDA to conduct a survey that will conclude a manipulation of the results of the study. In fact, the animals on which the first study was performed were autopsied 1 year after the end of the tests, revealing malignant tumors that had not been mentioned in the study results (or mentioned as benign).
Aspartame is still allowed in England and then in the rest of the world including France where health authorities rely on Searle studies.
Since its commercialization, numerous studies have been carried out on aspartame. Of the 174 studies conducted, 74 were funded by the aspartame industry and 100% of them ensured the safety of this sweetener. Conversely, of the 91 independent studies, 92% identified one or more problems with the use of aspartame.
Controversies have emerged suggesting that the record is far from neutral: conflicting scientific publications, former members of the committee responsible for assessing the harmfulness of aspartame hired at Searle, campaigns of politicians funded by the Searle family, and so on. There is every reason to believe that the legalization of aspartame is based on conflicts of interest.
Aspartame has been hotly contested since it was released. Laboratories accuse the Food and Drug Administration of relying solely on scientifically-based studies conducted by Searle.
More generally, it is the link between industry and health administrations that is constantly returning to the heart of the debate, most studies on the subject having been funded by industry.
When J. W. Olney published an article in 1996 accusing aspartame of being responsible for the rise of brain tumors in the United States, he questioned the safety of a daily food product.
Following this debate, health authorities in many countries conducted new public studies and informed consumers. For example, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) launched a full reassessment of the health risks associated with aspartame on 8 January 2013.
The result of this new study, published in December 2013, allows EFSA to conclude that “Aspartame and its degradation products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure”.
While the recent and comprehensive re-evaluation of the health risks associated with aspartame conducted by EFSA concludes that there are no hazards at usual exposure levels, however, as with many compounds there are high-risk doses.
2 – Composition of Aspartame
Aspartame is a combination of three chemicals: aspartic acid (40%), phenylalanine (40%) and methanol (10%).
*** Aspartic Acid
It is an amino acid that destroys the neurological cells of the brain and causes memory loss and neurological diseases (multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc.).
It is an amino acid naturally present in the brain. In small amounts, this amino acid is not dangerous, but at higher doses, it will cause the fall of serotonin levels in the brain – serotonin is the cerebral hormone of good humor and responsible for maintaining its stability.
When the level of serotonin is disturbed, it causes emotional disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, epileptic attacks – which would explain why the consumption of aspartame would lead to memory loss or even destruction of neurons as seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
Also called “wood alcohol“, is known to be a deadly poison. Declared toxic by health authorities, it can cause death even by inhalation because of its properties that tend to slow down the functioning of the central nervous system (in the same way as ethanol). It can cause vision problems or other symptoms, such as headaches, memory laps, numbness, gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, etc.
3 – About the 92 Side Effects of Aspartame
According to studies conducted so far, the consumption of aspartame causes side effects ranging from a simple headache to brain tumors.
According to the FDA, more than 75% of the reports made by consumers who suffered from food additive-related adverse reactions were caused by aspartame.
The list of side effects related to aspartame consumption is very long.
There are 92 side effects of Aspartame, which are officially recognized by the FDA in the United States.
*** Some of the 92 Side Effects of Aspartame
Headache, migraines, dizziness, stroke, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, skin irritation, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, visual problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, iron taste, dizziness, memory loss, and joint pain …
But also personality disorders such as sudden attacks of aggression, sometimes with physical violence, paranoia, agoraphobia, phobias, panic, sensations of “déjà vu”, irritability, dementia attacks, alteration of character, the difficulty of concentration, confusion, hyperactivity.
In addition, aspartame causes or aggravates the following diseases: fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, lupus, diabetes and diabetic complications, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, lymphoma, congenital malformations, and chronic fatigue.
4 – The Effects of Aspartame on the Brain
According to research conducted on the subject, aspartame attacks the nervous system and promotes the development of carcinogenic cells. It also creates favorable conditions for the development of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, depression, diabetes, arthritis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease.
While most harmful products have immediate effects, aspartame accumulates slowly in the body and then disrupts the brain and the hormonal system.
Aspartame is one of the excitotoxins.
These excitotoxins are neurotoxic, that is, they have the ability to rapidly destroy brain neurons by exciting them until they explode.
Aspartame decomposes in hot liquids into methanol, which itself breaks down into formaldehyde, formic acid, and diketopiperazine, three brain tumor vector products.
Aspartame acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain by facilitating the transmission of information between neurons. Too much aspartame in the brain destroys some neurons by allowing excessive calcium invasion into the cells. This invasion triggers excessive levels of free radicals that kill cells.
Aspartic acid – taken in its free form (not related to proteins) – significantly elevates the level of blood plasma to aspartame. The excess of aspartame in the blood plasma soon after ingestion causes a rise in the level of these neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain.
The risks incurred by infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic health problems, caused by excitotoxins are great.
A study from the University of North Dakota, published in Research in Nursing & Health in June 2014, tested the “healthy” consumption limits of aspartame consumed over a short period of time.
The researchers found that by eating even half of the healthy daily intake according to FDA standards, aspartame caused alarming neurobehavioral changes, ranging from cognitive impairment to depression, to pronounced irritability.
The study was conducted by recruiting 28 healthy university students for 4 weeks of testing. Participants received 3 meals a day and 2 snacks for 8 days. Meals were designed to contain either a high level of aspartame (25 mg/kg per person per day) or a reduced rate of aspartame (10 mg/kg per person per day).
After the first 8 days, participants started a 2-week neutral diet and then reversed their aspartame regimens with the other group. Foods containing aspartame were yogurts, ice creams, jellies and syrups, gelatins, beverages, and desserts.
*** Aspartame Causes Cognitive Impairment
The researchers concluded that spatial orientation abilities were significantly reduced in participants who had been on a high aspartame diet compared to participants who had less aspartame. This confirms the results of a previous study of 90 university students that found that aspartame users reported more severe memory problems than students who did not consume this chemical.
*** Aspartame Causes Depression and Irritable Mood
In the study, no student reported signs of depression after eating low-aspartame foods. However, the other group, who ate high-aspartame meals, showed clear signs of depression. Participants in this group also showed some irritability.
The researchers felt that these results supported the findings of a previous double-blind, randomized, crossover study that demonstrated that depression was related to aspartame. This study involved 40 participants with depression and 40 participants who were not depressed, and the latter received even higher doses of aspartame in their diet (30 mg/kg per person per day) or pastry sugar. Surprisingly, the study had to be stopped earlier than planned because patients with depression reported several severe reactions to aspartame.
These researchers have noticed that it is actually the chemical composition of aspartame that is partly responsible for its effects on the brain. Aspartame is metabolized and generates aspartic acid – known as an exciting neurotransmitter -, phenylalanine, and methanol. Methanol separates once in the body into formaldehyde.
Other researchers have found a link between the substantial increase of phenylalanine and aspartic acid, and the reduction of dopamine and serotonin production following ingestion of aspartame.
These researchers explain that there are relatively few clinical studies to date that measure the short-term neurobehavioral effects of aspartame consumption. More research is needed, especially on the long-term effects of the daily use of aspartame.
5 – Products Containing Aspartame
– Instant breakfasts
– breath fresheners
– Sugar-free chewing gums
– Cocoa mixes
– Coffee drinks
– Chilled desserts
– Gelatinous desserts
– Beverages based on fruit juice
– Milk drinks
– Soft drink
– Sodas light
– Multi-vitamins for adults and children
– Drugs and nutritional supplements
– Table sweeteners
– Instant teas and coffees
– Foams and decorative creams
– salad dressing
– some jams
6 – How to Avoid Aspartame?
Nowadays, aspartame is in so many common products that it is more and more difficult to avoid it altogether. Meticulous packaging must be read on all packaged food products. We must avoid these small packaged condiments in restaurants.
Try Stevia instead. It is a natural sweetener extracted directly from the leaves of a plant native to South America. It is also known as “sweetleaf” or green sugar.
Honey and xylitol are other good natural alternatives.
Not knowing what to say about aspartame, the best advice can be given without stopping consumption, at least limit it to apply the precautionary principle. The reaction following the consumption of aspartame may differ from one person to another and if aspartame causes a consumer to any intolerance reaction, it is advised to avoid this substance in the body. ‘to come up.
Regarding the consumption of aspartame, it is advisable to apply the precautionary principle. Its consumption is therefore not recommended for people with phenylketonuria.