What is aspartame? Why should I avoid it?

Aspartame, or commonly known as artificial sweeteners, is found in most foods labeled as sugar-free. But what exactly is aspartame and how does it affect our bodies?

It’s Sugar-Free

Aspartame is an artificial non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute. It was created and used as a replacement for sugar in some food and drink products. Artifical sweeteners were developed and aimed towards a community of people whose body cannot digest sugar properly like diabetics. According to the FDA, it is about 200 times sweeter than table sugar and does contain calories.

Oops, Did I do that?

Believe it or not, the chemical aspartame was not created on purpose. According to Aspartame: By Far the Most Dangerous Substance Added to Most Foods Today, it was discovered in 1965 by chemist James Schlatter while testing an anti-ulcer drug. After conducting his experiments, Schlatter discovered a sweet taste on his fingertips as a result of the chemicals he was experimenting with. That chemical is known as aspartyl-phenylalanine methyl ester. The main amino acids in this product are aspartic acid and phenylalanine.

Aspartame became approved as a food additive in 1981. It is commonly found in chewing gum, cold cereal, and as a dry base for certain foods. In 1983, FDA approved the use of this sweetener in carbonated drinks and syrup bases.

There have been many misconceptions the aspartame is made from E.Coli bacteria poop. Several blog posts, forums, and third-party informational sites refer to a European patent released in 1981 that states a method of creating aspartame through genetically modified E.Coli bacteria. But sensationalist, over the top titles, can be misleading, no real human or animal poop was used in the experiment.

According to Truth or Fiction, “… The idea that aspartame is made from GM E. coli poop over-simplifies the complex process of making aspartame, which has changed steadily over the years. It also ignores the fact that bacteria exist at the cellular level and doesn’t have a digestive system, which means it doesn’t ‘poop.’Instead, it excretes unneeded nutrients and byproducts through a cell wall.” But many consumers do not like the idea that E. Coli was used in this procedure, regardless if it was genetically modified.

What are those?

Aspartic Acid makes up a large part of artificial sweeteners. Retired neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, Russell L Blaylock describes in detail how certain amino acids causes neurons to die. Aspartic acid, or aspartate, is one of the amino acids he talks about in his research.

Dr. Blaylock reports: “One can only wonder if many of people having difficulty with obesity in the United States is related to early exposure to food additive excitotoxins since this obesity is one of the most consistent features of the syndrome (MSG exposure)…It is ironic that so many people drink soft drinks sweetened with NutraSweet® when aspartate can produce the same lesions as (MSG), resulting in gross obesity.”

To be put in simpler terms: Artificial sweeteners that contain this chemical can lead to obesity.

Phenylalanine is an amino acid found in protein. It is not naturally produced in the body; we get this acid from food, commonly protein. It is found in meat, eggs, fish, cheese, and artificial sweeteners.

You may be allergic

The FDA has found that people with the rare disease, phenylketonuria (PKU), have a difficulty breaking down the phenylalanine acid in aspartame. Those with the disease report the following symptoms as a result of taking phenylalanine:

  • Itching
  • Swelling of the face or hands
  • Trouble breathing
  • Tingling feeling in the mouth
  • Other side effects may include:
  • Heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety and hypomania (a milder form of mania)
  • Jitteriness and trouble sleeping
  • Doses higher than 5,000 milligrams a day may cause nerve damage.

According to WebMD, this disease can be detected by a blood test on babies after they are born.  By following an aspartame-free or phenylalanine-free diet, lower the risks of these symptoms.

 What else can Aspartame do to my body?

According to the American cancer society, there have been no serious health problems linked to aspartame use.But there have been claims that it is linked to mild health issues like headaches, dizziness, and changes in mood. More serious issues such as Alzheimer disease, birth defects, diabetes, Gulf War syndrome, ADD, Parkinson disease, and seizures are said to be linked to the sweetener. But no studies have linked aspartame to these health issues.

Though a recent study conducted found a link between consumption of aspartame-sweetened soda and the risk of leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma in men.

How do I know if Aspartame is in my products?

Aspartame can be found commonly in tabletop sweeteners, diet or sugar-free beverages, breakfast cereal, gum, candy, and gelatin.

Under the nutrition facts, food products are labeled when containing aspartame. The label will state that the product has phenylalanine. Try checking the labels next time you are shopping at your local grocery store.

Luckily for those on an aspartame-free diet, our products are aspartame-free! Check out our online store and browse through our wide choice of products and diet types that do not contain this common artificial sweetener.