The more I read about aspartame, the more I understand why it’s the the most controversial food additive in history. To put it plainly, aspartame is poison so why consume it unless your health is not that important to you. Even though its approval was one of the most contested in FDA history, this artificial sweetener was allowed into our food supply for largely political and big business reasons (ever heard of Monsanto and GMO!) and has been wreaking havoc with our health for decades.
Aspartame was invented by chemists at G. D. Searle & Company in 1965 which was bought by Monsanto in 1985. As interesting as the history and the players involved with legalizing the use of aspartame is (see resources below), I won’t make this blog about the history or the players. I believe what’s more important is to know how it affects our health, where it is commonly found, and how to avoid it.
What is Aspartame
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is is made with genetically modified (GM) bacteria—E. coli, to be specific. Monsanto uses GM bacteria in the process of making aspartame in their American factories—and insists it is completely safe.
According to an article in The Independent:
“Aspartame is made by combining phenylalanine, which is naturally produced by bacteria, with another amino acid. Monsanto has genetically engineered the bacteria to make them produce more phenylalanine. Scientists fear that other unknown compounds, which may end up in food, are produced by the genetic engineering process.”
Aspartame is composed of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. All products containing aspartame must be labeled with the information “contains phenylalanine” (which is dangerous if you suffer from the metabolic illness phenylketonuria). But additives that are manufactured with the aid of GMOs do NOT require labeling as such, provided the additive contains no actual microorganisms.1
How Aspartame Affects our Health
Just to refresh your memory, aspartame has been linked to the following health concerns:
- Lymphomas, leukemias and brain cancer
- Neurological symptoms including headaches, depressed and anxious mood, seizures, memory loss, hallucinations and dizziness
- Weakness and fatigue
- Sleep disorders
- Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Visual changes
- Joint Pain
- Weight gain and diabetes
- Rashes and hives, and so much more…
Products that Commonly Use Aspartame
According to Wikipedia, “…aspartame is an ingredient in approximately 6,000 consumer foods and beverages sold worldwide, including (but not limited to) diet sodas and other soft drinks, instant breakfasts, breath mints, cereals, sugar-free chewing gum, cocoa mixes, frozen desserts, gelatin desserts, juices, laxatives, chewable vitamin supplements, milk drinks, pharmaceutical drugs and supplements, shake mixes, tabletop sweeteners, teas, instant coffees, topping mixes, wine coolers and yogurt.” 2
Here is a list of some products that commonly use aspartame:
How to Avoid Aspartame
Even though aspartame sadly remains in our food supply, there is too much research to contest its hazard on our health. For some of you, it may require a diet change to avoid aspartame. That’s because It is found in over 6000 products as mentioned above.
You can avoid the products above, start reading labels and avoiding brand names like:
- Neotame – The Monsanto-created chemical similar to Aspartame, including its neurotoxic properties, that apparently isn’t required to be on labels.
Taking Aspartame to the Next Level
If you or anyone you know has a reaction to aspartame or any other product/ingredient that is approved by the FDA, please inform the FDA by filing a report. It may fall on deaf ears but the more complaints the FDA gets, the more pressure there is the more likely the chance for change.
If you drink diet soda every day or know someone who does, I urge you to find another beverage to consume. Your health depends on it. If enough people stop consuming it, there will be no further reason for these products that apparently detrimental to our health to be included in products available on the market. Every time you spend money, you are voting for or against a product. Choose wisely.