Look at the ingredients
When you pick up a food package off the shelf are you in the habit of looking at the ingredients? Do you know what half the items are on the ingredient list? How many ingredients does the food contain? With more and more people starting to become more conscious of the foods that they are putting into their bodies, the scrutiny that we place on each individual ingredient should be even more important. Often times, we think we are eating a healthy food when in fact it is loaded with artificial sweeteners, derivatives of MSG or loaded with refined sugar. These substances make us feel crummy and when consumed over longer periods can be dangerous to our health.
Avoid artificial sweeteners
In my private practice, I have many patients who come into the office who really have no idea about the dangers of artificial sweeteners. In fact, they consider artificial sweeteners as a healthy alternative because they do not contain any calories. However, what they do not realize is that these substances wreak havoc on multiple systems in the human body. Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, are found in a majority of foods that regular grocery stores carry. These foods include all of the “low calorie” or “no calorie” beverages, like diet sodas as well as low calorie cookies, candy, yogurts, gum and GASP the no calorie sweeteners that are now used in Starbucks beverages. All of the colored packages that are found on the table of every restaurant, including Splenda, Equal and Sweet’N Low all contain some derivative of aspartame as well. What do you put in your tea or coffee? Next time, you might want to consider just using plain old sugar in the raw!
What makes this story more interesting is that aspartame has many other close cousins that, while not exactly like aspartame in chemical structure, still wreak the same havoc on the body. Other substances that should be avoided include sucralose (found in Splenda), saccharin (found in Sweet’N Low), acesulfame and acesulfame-K. Product manufacturers are able to use clever labeling to include the words “artificial” or “natural” on food labels, hiding the true content of the sweetener that has been used.
What makes aspartame so dangerous? One of the first things that I tell my patients is that aspartame and artificial sweeteners convert into formaldehyde in your body. Formaldehyde, as you might know, is commonly used by morticians to embalm dead bodies. Yes, that’s right, by consuming artificial sweeteners you are essentially embalming your organs while you are alive! One might think that this would help to preserve our bodies and keep us youthful, however formaldehyde is extremely toxic to every organ in your body. The second issue surrounding aspartame consumption is that this chemical looks similarly enough to glucose that your body effectively releases insulin to help transport the glucose into cells, however, because the molecule is aspartame instead, nothing happens. Valuable insulin is wasted often exacerbating low blood sugar and creating issues for diabetics, especially those who are insulin dependent. The third issue with aspartame and its derivatives is their ability to continue on uninhibited throughout the body and essentially deposit in any tissue, including the brain, nerves, blood vessels and eyes.
Aspartame consumption, although FDA approved, and not currently linked to developing cancer according to the National Cancer Society, has been linked to developing two forms of cancer, leukemia and lymphoma, in recent rat studies. The rat studies showed that at doses of just 20mg/kg of aspartame was able to cause these forms of cancer and that even at doses of 4mg/kg there was an increased trend toward developing cancer. These doses are equivalent to three and four cans of diet soda in a 140 lb. woman and a 180 lb. man, respectively. The average person has been shown to consume about 2 or 3mg/kg of aspartame per day, but these figures are on the rise considerably, especially in children and young adults.
Besides an inherent cancer risk associated with aspartame, consumption has now been linked to many different neurological disorders, headaches of all types, especially migraine headaches, dizziness, mood alterations, gastrointestinal upset, skin rashes and alterations in women’s menstrual cycles. In children, aspartame consumption is now thought to be one causative agent of ADHD, hyperactivity and other behavioral issues.
Avoid at all costs
Aspartame is on my top 10 most dangerous substances list and should be avoided at all costs. Next time you reach for that diet soda or Splenda package on your restaurant table, please do re-think your choice. I hope that you find this article informative and that you are able to share this information with others.