Artifical Sweeteners – Is your head in the sand?

It’s wonderful when consumers try to make positive changes in their lifestyle and better food choices.  Cutting out or reducing sugar is an excellent  idea and the supermarkets are full of zero calorie drinks and foods.

Mass media and clever marketing remind us of the health risks of obesity linked to sugared drinks and consumer products.  The solutions offered are a wide choice of artificial sweeteners to choose from such as aspartame, acesulfame K,  neotame, saccharine, or sucralose.

After all, reducing caloric intake is the only thing that counts, isn’t it?  But there are several problems with that mindset.  Unfortunately, too many consumers tell themselves: “I’ll have that zero calorie drink so I can have a dessert”.  Self delusional and just a little bizarre thinking, wouldn’t you think?

That is laughable, of course…but it happens more often than not.  Here is a short list of what artificial sweeteners really are and the effect they will eventually have on your health with daily or frequent use.

Created in a laboratory, all artificial sweeteners are chemically manufactured molecules that do not exist in nature.

  • Neurotoxins – All artificial sweeteners are neurotoxins – poison for your nerves.  The artificially created chemical molecules in artificial sweeteners and components have the ability to damage the brain and/or disrupt its chemical balance.  This is especially true with aspartame and sucralose.
  • Depression –  May trigger migraines, aspartame is especially linked to diabetes, mental retardation, brain tumors, epilepsy, birth defects, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, Attention Disorder and depression.
  • Brain Fog – If you find you can’t concentrate as well as you used to, or are impatient or feel agitated and moody without any apparent reason and you use artificial sweeteners regularly, you could be suffering from the accumulative effects of artificial sweeteners.
  • Addiction – Animal studies show that rats regularly given artificially sweetened foods, that when given normal foods, display withdrawal symptoms.  Other studies on aspartame show that it affects the absorption of dopamine in the brain which causes the addiction – and an ever increasing need for ‘sweetness’.
  • Declining Kidney Function – An 11 year study by Harvard Medical School on 3,000 women showed a two fold risk of  kidney decline by drinking two diet drinks a day.  There was no association found with other sugared drinks.
  • Cancer – According to American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) there is a link to certain cancers. Though not clear,  these cancers include cancers of the pancreas, kidney, esophagus, colon and breast. 
  • Metabolic Syndrome – All artificial sweeteners trick the body into ‘thinking’ it has consumed something sweet and caloric in the form of carbohydrate energy.  But because there are no calories, or extremely low compared to the perceived intake, the body craves more…sugar.

A University of Texas Health Science Center study found that the more diet drinks including coffee and teas sweetened with an artificial sweetener and products consumed, the greater the risk of becoming overweight.  Consuming just two or more diet drinks a day increased waistlines by 500%.

According to a Purdue University study, the reason for this is that the body’s natural ability to regulate calorie intake based on the sweetness of foods is disrupted. Because of this, those who regularly consume diet foods and drinks are more likely to overeat.  Another study by University of Texas Health Science Center supported the same findings.

The prolific and widespread use in processed food and drinks, chewing gum, desserts, cough syrups and medication is of great concern – even in low doses.

Short list of most common E-numbers:  E-951 Asparatame, E-954 Saccharin, E-955 Sucralose

It is alarming that there is a strong link to diabetes.  Could artificial sweeteners be contributing to the diabetes epidemic in the US and the UK?

A domino affect happens with Metabolic Syndrome in which the pancreas is tricked into sending a false spike of insulin, which can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.  At the very least, your body craves more food.

Looking deeper into the history of just one artificial sweetener, Asparatame it becomes clear that it’s approval was riddled with controversy, lies and bribes, scandal, and further financial interests from the pharma industry, huge American corporations and politicians.

Symptoms of feeling unwell seldom have a sudden onset, but are often difficult to define.  You or your health practitioner may have difficulty treating or understanding such vague symptoms and which can result in false diagnosis, unnecessary medicines and procedures.  If you are ‘on’ artificial sweeteners, try weaning yourself off of them and read/understand food labels if you eat processed foods of any kind.  You may be surprised that many or most of those symptoms improve or disappear – that is, unless they are due to unrelated causes.

Follow the money – a brief look at Aspartame

Many millions of dollars have been invested in dubious reports based on manipulated data since its first introduction in the mid ’70’s. G. D. Searle and others with a financial interest funded their own ‘studies’ and these were submitted to the FDA and eventually lead to investigations regarding the validity of studies submitted.  It was eventually brought to light that Searle used unprecedented bad testing, tweaked results and manipulated data.

Major industries have political clout and vast sums of money and that equals power.  More than a hundred of Searle’s studies were submitted to the FDA back then and those outdated reports are still used today to support the belief that Aspartame is perfectly safe.  A look at Aspartame on Wikipedia (a site where anyone can submit topics) is an example of this.  Many years later even the FDA was lulled into approving it.  Through regulatory tricks and political influence, it was approved in 1983. Yet, for every ‘scientific study’ that supports Aspartame there are many more emerging against its use and artificial sweeteners in general.

By the way, it is common practice in the food, medical and pharma industries to tweak reports by paid or on-the-payroll scientists, resubmit them yet still use the scientists name.  Those that have protested, have had their careers threatened or at the least, are off the payroll.   However, more than thirty years later there is now undeniable evidence that artificial sweeteners are not as harmless as the industry wants you to believe.

Is the perceived value of ‘saving a few calories’ worth it?

Related Post: Agave – The Not So Healthy Sweet Sensation
Related Video:

The Dangers of Aspartame (Diet Coke Zero Side Effects Poisoning Pepsi Max Nutrasweet Sucralose)


Selected References:

How Stuff Works –  Effects of Artificial Sweeteners

Harvard Health Publications (Harvard Medical School) – Articificial sweeteners: sugar-free, but at what cost?

Hall, W.L., Millward, D.J., Rogers, P.J., and Morgan, L.M. “Physiological Mechanisms Mediating Aspartame-Induced Satiety,” Physiol Behav. Vol. 78, Nos

H.J. Roberts, Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, West Palm Beach, Sunshine Sentinel Press, 2001/James Turner, The Aspartame/NutraSweet Fiasco

Russell Blaylock, MD, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, Health Press (NM), 2006

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