The Dangers of Aspartame: With obesity rates rising exponentially across the world, many people are looking for sugar substitutes and turn to aspartame to help them maintain or lose weight while still satisfying their sweet tooth.
What is Aspartame?
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that was accidentally discovered in 1965 but was not approved for use in foods until 1982. It can be found in diet sodas, sugar-free yogurt and ice creams, sugarless candy and a large majority of chewing gum. It is 200 times sweeter than sucrose, also known as common sugar.
However, recent studies have begun to reveal some serious dangers of aspartame on the body. Although with the introduction of such an artificial sweetener which allowed those trying to manage their diabetes or control their weight to see success, many other individuals have been experiencing more negative effects of aspartame on the body.
#1. Headaches and Migraines
Aspartame has been shown to cause headaches in some individuals. Although there are many triggers of migraines and headaches, such as stress, lack of sleep, or alcohol, the artificial sweetener appears to affect certain individuals as well.
If you believe that it may be something causing your head pain, I suggest keeping a detailed journal of what you eat and when to see if there is some sort of correlation between the two.
#2. Increase in Depression
Although aspartame may not cause depression itself, those who already feel depressed and consume aspartame may find that their mood may become worse. They become more irritable and exhibit exaggerated feelings of melancholy.
It is advised that if you are an individual who experiences depression and wants to manage it without medication, you should avoid artificial sweeteners and instead reach for whole, natural foods. Try documenting the differences in your mood when you consume aspartame vs sugar. You may be one of those people whose body reacts to the dangers of aspartame.
#3. Increase in Strokes and Dementia
Individuals who consume at least one diet soda containing aspartame daily have shown increased incidences of strokes and dementia. Obviously there are many other factors that can cause strokes or dementia but even when such factors like genetics, high blood pressure, or diet were taken into consideration, the numbers were still high.
#4. Infertility Issues
Women who consume large amounts of artificial sweeteners are beginning to experience infertility issues. The addition of aspartame in many of our regular day-to-day foods disrupts the endocrine system, causing an imbalance of hormones in the body.
Consequently, women are experiencing problems conceiving, an increase in the number of miscarriages, and even some birth defects. These are just a few of the possible dangers of aspartame.
#5. Increased Pain in Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Fibromyalgia is a disorder where individuals experience widespread musculoskeletal pain as it affects the central nervous system. The disorder intensifies the pain felt because it affects the way the brain interprets pain signals.
Research has demonstrated that those with fibromyalgia are greatly affected by the consumption of artificial sweeteners. In fact, it appears that with the removal of the aspartame from an individual’s diet, he/she may experience a dramatic decrease in their chronic pain.
#6. Vision Issues
Increased consumption of artificial sweeteners can affect your vision. You may find that your eyes are more sensitive to light. Some individuals have also reported experiencing other dangers of aspartame in terms of their eyesight like some blurred vision, reduced night vision, and even some eye pain. There have even been instances of blindness in some extreme cases.
#7. Muscle Cramping
When a person ingests a large amount of aspartame, it is believed to trigger a surplus of activity in the nervous system called NMDA.
The artificial sweetener then sends messages to the nerves to release neurotransmitters that can cause muscle cramping.
It has been shown that with the removal of such sweeteners from one’s diet, the muscle contractions are dramatically reduced or even cease to occur.
Aspartame is obviously found in many items we consume but especially so in diet sodas. Drinking soda has many harmful effects but the artificial sweetener in diet sodas can sometimes leave us dizzy as well. Some people are more sensitive than others to its effects so, therefore, attempt to remove it from your diet to see if that is what is causing your dizzy spells. As with any medical condition, if it worsens or persists please seek medical attention as there may be a more serious cause.
#9. Various Stomach Issues
Xylitol and sorbitol – sugar alcohols – are natural alternatives to sugar and can be helpful to regulate blood glucose levels. However, even though they are derived from a plant they have been chemically altered and may have several unpleasant effects on your stomach and digestive system.
For some people who are highly sensitive to these sweeteners, a simple sugar-free candy can send them running to the washroom with diarrhea because of its laxative effect. One may also experience bloating and excessive gas.
People with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) must be very conscious of the foods they consume as their system is highly sensitive. Aspartame can worsen the symptoms for IBS sufferers and should be avoided.
My Final Thoughts on The Dangers of Aspartame
Upon the introduction of aspartame in the early 1980s, many people rejoiced as they could now eat numerous foods without worrying about the high calorie or sugar intake.
However, as further studies and research have been conducted we are discovering that artificial sweeteners may not be everything we had hoped. In fact, they can be downright damaging. It may be worth the extra calories to avoid the dangers of aspartame.
So, you have come to the conclusion that you want to eliminate aspartame from your diet but still like to sweeten things up a bit. What can you do? There are several natural alternatives that your body can more easily process. That being said, they are still high in sugar and should be eaten in limited quantities, especially if you are trying to find ways to curb your sugar cravings or reduce your intake of foods that are bad for your teeth.
Remember that your body is much more capable of handling natural foods versus highly processed foods or chemical additives. Pay attention to the signals your system is telling you!