Recently, while watching an interview with renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Russel Blaylock, about the damaging effects of sugar on the brain, artificial sweeteners also came up.
Labels touting “diet” and “sugar free” are still very much advertised So, I did a little digging. It didn't take much to uncover some pretty significant and shocking information.
We all know too much sugar isn't conducive to good health. But many think by replacing sugary items for those labelled “sugar free” or “diet,” they are bypassing those harmful effects and doing something good for their health.
If there's no sugar in it, then it must be lower in calories so you won't have to worry about gaining weight either. That's the thought, but is it true? That's the more important question.
One of the most popular artificial sweeteners of our time is aspartame, also known as Nutrasweet, Spooonful and Equal. If you've looked into sugar and fake sugars even a little, you will have likely found some information cautioning on the use of aspartame as there has been negative press about it from time to time over the years. But how bad it is really? Let me share with you what I found.
Aspartame is really a compound made up of three components, methanol, aspartic acid and phenylanalanine. I’m not sure about you, but that doesn't sound much like food to me.
The Arizona Advanced Medicine website breaks down each component and describes them:
Methanol is a colourless, poisonous and flammable liquid. It is used for making formaldehyde, paint strippers and carburetor cleaners. And that's just the first component.
Phenylalanine is an amino acid —just not the kind we get from food that our body needs. This one has the individual amino acid separated from its protein chain, making it toxic.
The aspartic acid component is described as an excitotoxin, a substance that causes disruption to the brain by overstimulating nerve cells. Essentially, the cells are excited and overstimulated to the point of death. Just a side note, excitotoxins are also found in things like MSG, aspartate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, to name a few. Another plug for the importance of reading labels. To top it off, it was found aspartame can actually cause weight gain, the exact opposite of why most people choose it in the first place.
Now that we know what it's made out of, let's see what the studies say about aspartame.
On the National Institute of Health website in the National Library of Medicine, I found a study called, Aspartame and cancer – new evidence for causation.
The study states, “Aspartame is one of the world's most widely used artificial sweeteners and is an ingredient in more than 5,000 food products globally. A particularly important use is in low-calorie beverages consumed by children and pregnant women.”
It went on to say that back in 2006 and 2007, aspartame caused an increase in cancerous tumours in multiple organs in rats and mice, even when they were given a lower dose close to the acceptable daily intake. That also included in the offspring of pregnant rodents. Because of these findings, it was encouraged that all national and international public health agencies “urgently reexamine their assessments of aspartame's health risks, especially the risks of prenatal and early postnatal exposures.” And yet we still see it on labels today.
What I really hope is people see (this) and what I want to impress upon you is food, or rather food-like substances, (aka Big Food) is a business. The goal is simple and singular, to increase the company's bottom line. It has nothing to do whatsoever with health.
Is it any wonder then that the acronym for the way we eat in North America is “SAD,” standard American diet? Do not assume every item on the shelf available for purchase has quality ingredients or that it is even safe because clearly, many are not.
Do your due diligence, read labels or better yet, avoid buying things that have labels and that come in their own wrappers as often as possible. Your body will thank you and your brain, will be able to remember why.
If you're looking for a safe, scientific approach to health and healthy weight, watch Tania's Free 15 mins video.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.