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Aspartame: The Artificial Sweetener Destroying Us

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Artificial sweeteners side effects
Artificial sweeteners

You would be surprised to know that aspartame (APM) is one of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners in the world. It was first used in chewing gums, colas, and selected food products before being widely included in other products such as iced tea, sugar-free products, fruit spreads among many.

Little did you know, aspartame in the diet could be harming you one small spoonful at a time.

Don’t know what substitute to use in your favorite tea/ coffee. You can ask a Nutrition Coach for FREE. It’s just a click away!

How does aspartame harm us?

The following is a simplistic explanation of how aspartame damages us. Aspartame consists of aspartic acid, phenylalanine (common amino acid) and methanol. Phenylalanine plays a role in regulating the levels of neurotransmitters or the chemicals that our brain cells use to communicate to each other. Aspartic acid is a known excitatory neurotransmitter itself.

Changes in the levels of these ‘brain messengers’ could result in neuro-behavioural changes. Some researchers have noted an increase in the phenylalanine and aspartic acid levels followed by increased intake of aspartame. The result: reduced secretion of 2 neurotransmitters namely the feel-good serotonin and the reward-influencing dopamine production [1].

In a nutshell, excess consumption or relaince on aspartame will blunt the feel good hormones and the ones responsible for that rewarding feeling after any activity. 

Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener used in many diet soft drinks and food preparations. It is a white, odourless powder known to cause numerous health problems. Watch the video given below that will show the truth behind artificial sweeteners.

What health problems could excessive aspartame cause?

We’re glad you asked. Consuming aspartame is like a gateway to a future of high medical bills. Take a look at all the medical problems a simple flavor and taste addition to your cup of coffee or tea could cause.

Neurological effects

Although, the neurological effects of aspartame were explained, what does it really imply in our day-to-day life? Researchers set out to understand the effect of a high aspartame diet (close to 25mg/kg body weight/day) on memory, cognition, spatial orientation (body posture and gait), depression, mood, and headache. The participants on the high sweetener diet showed irritable mood, depression and had fared poorly in spatial orientation tests [1].

Weight gain

So you consume an artificial sweetener like aspartame to resist calories from sugar? However, relying on artificial sweeteners seem to result in just the opposite. Studies conducted among undergraduate students consuming artificial sweeteners showed that when given a choice of snacks, they were 2.93 times more likely to choose the high-calorie ones. Also, the study group was hard to please, with a majority of them not being satisfied with even an ounce of chocolate cookies [2].

So what does this tell you? Artificial sweeteners seem to modify physiological processes to influence eating!

Diabetes

We are supremely sorry to burst this great bubble since artificial sweeteners could be a boon for people with diabetes. You know what is coming up and it is not good news! Sweeteners like aspartame seemed to increase blood glucose levels in a roundabout mechanism which is difficult to conceive. They affect the helpful microscopic residents in our gut. Research finds that the bacterial composition of people consuming sweeteners was totally different than the ones who don’t. This change could increase obesity-related metabolic conditions [3].

Other problems

Aspartame has been linked with reactions such as headaches/migraines, muscle spasms, depression, insomnia, hearing loss, heart palpitations, tinnitus, early periods [4] and others.

What are the sweetener alternatives to aspartame?

Sugar is an essential part of our diet and it is impossible to avoid it. Instead of opting for aspartame, however, you can choose to use organic honey, stevia or xylitol, a natural sweetener made from birch wood.

Recommended read: Why it is wise to diet coke! 

References

  1. Lindseth GN, Coolahan SE, Petros TV, et al. Neurobehavioral effects of
    aspartame consumption. Res Nurs Health. 2014;37(3):185-93.
  2. Hill SE, Prokosch ML, Morin A, et al. The effect of non-caloric
    sweeteners on cognition, choice, and post-consumption satisfaction. Appetite.
    2014;83:82-8.
  3. Feehley T, Nagler CR. The weighty costs of non-caloric sweeteners. Nature. 2014; 514(7521):176-177.
  4. Mueller NT, Jacobs DR Jr, MacLehose RF, et al. Consumption of caffeinated and artificially sweetened soft drinks is associated with risk of early menarche. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(3):648-54.

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2 Comments
  1. Rani. S.Agarwal says

    I like these informations,found them like a warning why not to consume artificial sugars.thankful to you.

    1. mehnaz says

      Hi Rani,

      Yes, we are not that aware of the side effects of artificial sweeteners. While trying to reduce our sugar intake, we end up consuming more of these. Aspartame is one such dreadful artificial sweetener that you must definitely know about. For more such insights in the health industry, keep following our blog. And don’t forget to keep writing to us. 🙂