To many this is already a topic that has had enough exposure. Some of you are with and some are against.
Personally, if you asked me a couple months ago, I would have disregarded the topic, stating the obvious, that I wouldn’t mind since its zero calories.
A WIN situation, right? Well maybe.
I was intrigued to look further and deeper into it after one of my biochemistry lectures, that stated that Aspartame is actually nothing but a combination of two amino acids (protein building blocks), Aspartate and Phenylalanine. When I first heard this, I approached the professor with the generic question “but why then do they say that its harmful?”, with him saying that he doesn’t know, given form a biochemical point of view, it is harmless, this intrigued me more.
Let me break it down for you. Upon so much reading there are generally two point of views.
One group that defends Aspartame states that:
– It is nothing but natural 2 amino acids, thus the body treats it like any other protein component
– FDA , WHO (World Health Organization), ADA (American Dietetic Association), and AHA (American Heart Association) approved
– Research about it being associated with cancer is old, and have been set to question due to lack of sufficient scientific details
– Old research about it being associated with an increase in lung cancer, was wrongly dated, and wrongly associated, since only people above the age of 70 have shown an increase risk, yet back then, Aspartame have had barely been out in the market, and thus could not have been the reason
– Research done in labs, administering 100 times the allowed dosage, still showed no increased risk of cancer
The other group states however:
– It has been linked to eye problems including eye pain, blurred vision, dry eyes as well as a connection between aspartame and decreased eye vision
– Been linked to migraines and headaches. Some studies showed that people who consumed aspartame more often, had higher risk of migraines, and those who had migraines, have reported being free of pain after cutting artificial sweeteners, including aspartame
– Linked to stomach cramps and increased hunger. *
– Linked to increase in body weight. Studies have shown that since aspartame targets the same receptors as normal sugar, the brain doesn’t get the sufficient amount of energy (in Kcal) as per the sensation of sweeteners, which might in turn cause rewiring, which leads the brain to burn less calories (produce less ATP) with that particular threshold. In turn, affecting the catabolism of real sugar (real energy), causing weight gain
– Serious controversy among diabetics’ specialists. Since some studies showed that aspartame effects insulin sensitivity, causing the physicians to advice their patients to stay away from aspartame.
– some studies linked it to increase in mood disorders
– increased risk in seizures were also observed
– there were also a number of cases where hearing problems were reported.
*increased spurges of hunger could be related to the fact that was mentioned earlier regarding the taste receptors. As when the brain prepared the body for a certain amount of energy to be burned, and utilized, yet it gets non, this might cause the body to crave more in order to adjust for the misinterpretation of the message (the signals from the receptors)
From my personal experience, I have, after a long time, been able to pin down my sudden excruciating headache with the consumption of Diet sodas. However, I did think it has something to do with whatever is in the soda, yet, reading further on Aspartame, it might have been the case.
I my opinion, and this is from someone who have used sugar and artificial sweeteners alternatively, it depends on the body, but I say, better safe than sorry. To share with you what I thought were the strongest points on both arguments are; one is that Aspartame is nothing but a combination of amino acids, and as a Biochemist myself, I understand how OK this is. Yet, as someone who is also interested in the system/body as a whole, the point where the same receptors are triggered and, yet the energy is insufficient makes sense to me.
How I thought about it, is, we know that the body adapts to whatever you set it to. Your brain rewires. Your system adjusts. However, given our diverse intake form carbohydrates, to sugars, to sweeteners, to proteins and fats, the adapt might be detrimental in some respects. For example, continuous exposure to all the “sugar free”, “zero calories” food substitutes, which are usually high in artificial sweeteners, and specifically aspartame (widely used) along with continuous exposure to generic food in general; a combination of carbs to fats and proteins, then maybe this could be the reason why so many of us have problems losing weight and digesting real sugars, or even suffer from digestion problems, or etc.
I am leaving this to you to decide. Be your own judge. Stay objective.
As for me, I am taking major turns. I reduced my “artificial sweeteners” intake to the minimum, and trying to utilize other natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, or just plain sugar.
By Sara Ibrahim