Let’s start off with a few facts. According to the Aspartame Information Center website, aspartame, an artificial sweetener 200 times sweeter than table sugar, is found in more than 6,000 products - the most well-known being diet soda. This translates into a multi-million dollar industry. Second, the safety of aspartame has been affirmed by the U.S. FDA 26 times since it was approved in 1981; however the debate over its safety or lack thereof, is still underway - even today 30 years later! This raises two important questions:
- Why is this food additive still being strongly contested despite the FDA’s approval?
- How bad must it be to warrant such attention and create such controversy?
The following video conducted by Mike Wallace, a CBS journalist with 60-minutes sheds light on how the sweetener commercially known as NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, Equal-Measure, and Canderel was approved despite concerns that it may cause brain cancer and other ill health consequences. The video explains the approval process and shows how the approval was based on skewed scientific experiments by those who have a vested interest in the product. It’s very eye-opening to say the least.
Putting aside the financial and political agendas present in the food industry, how does this affect you the consumer personally? What is the major concern if you consume artificial sweeteners?
There are so many studies that have been conducted about the harmful effects of sweeteners, but one study in particular shocked me to the bone! A lady by the name of Victoria Inness-Brown, self-funded her own two and a half-year experiment to understand the effects of aspartame. She is not a scientist, nor does she have any vested interest in the findings. Her only concern was the health of family members who consumed large quantities of diet sodas. She wanted visual proof of the effects of aspartame, if there were any, to help get her family off of diet sodas and try to get aspartame off the market. This is why I’m particularly taken by this experiment. Any average person can replicate her experiment at home.
She raised 108 rats, giving 60 of them a daily dose of NutraSweet in their water. Females received 45 mg/kg of aspartame and males received about 34 mg/kg per day. To put these numbers into perspective, the aspartame received by the rats daily was equivalent to two-thirds the aspartame contained in an 8-ounce diet soda.
Her findings were shocking and the pictures are even more disturbing. The aspartame-drinking group suffered tumors – some larger than golf balls especially in females, thinning fur, paralysis, and eye and skin disorders. And the sweetener that is supposedly marketed to prevent weight gain actually caused some rats to gain weight. Note that the dosage given to the rats are lower than the FDA’s acceptable daily intake (ADI) limit of 50 mg per kg, which translates to approximately 18 to 19 cans of diet soda per day! Now that’s an awful lot!
The following pictures taken from Victoria’s website speak louder than words:
A female on aspartame often used her tumor as a pillow
The Bottom Line
Be aware of foods containing aspartame by reading food labels. It is included in carbonated soft drinks, powdered soft drinks, chewing gum, confections, gelatins, dessert mixes, puddings and fillings, frozen desserts, yogurt, tabletop sweeteners, and some pharmaceuticals such as vitamins and sugar-free cough drops. Usually if a product says sugar-free or fat-free, you’ll find some kind of artificial sweetener in there.
The intention here is not to scare you but to make you aware of the potential dangers of artificial sweeteners regardless if it has been approved or not. I am not a fan of anything man-made for human consumption. I like to know what I am eating, and be able to read and understand all of the ingredients. I would much prefer eating a sugar-laden home baked cookie once in a while over a fat-free sugar-free alternative. They may be labeled calorie-free, but the potential health consequences can certainly come at a cost and only you can decide if the possible risk is worth it.
Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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