When Sweet is Sour: The Dark Side of Artificial Sweeteners part 1

“What if you could eat all your favorite unhealthy foods without gaining weight?”

Diet-Coke-two-liter-plastic-bottle

Diet soda is just 1 of over 6,000 foods which contain aspartame. Read labels and beware!

Popularity of artificial sweeteners has skyrocketed the past few years thanks to that toxic message. The philosophy is based off of the basic truth that caloric intake which exceeds caloric expenditure results in weight gain. Doesn’t it make sense that decreasing the caloric content of sweet foods would make them more healthful and make America thinner? No.

Calories are not evil. There is a misconception that anything that is low calorie is healthy; this is simply not the case. I consider pure calorie-counting to be a dangerous method of dieting because it doesn’t attempt to account for nutritional complexity. There is a place for calorie-counting, but it should not be your final health-assessment tool.

Nutrition is far more complex than calories–as we know thanks to tragic side effects of artificial, low calorie sweeteners such as Aspartame.

Aspartame (Found in Equal or NutraSweet, especially in diet soda): This chemical was discovered during an attempt to make an anti-ulcer drug and has been used in diet carbonated beverages since 1983. Almost 75 % of food-additive-related adverse reactions reported to the FDA have been linked to Aspartame, according to Al-Dujaili et al in a synthesis of studies published by the Endocrine Society. Aspartame is known by physicians to worsen many neurological and chronic conditions in adults. Diabetes, fibromyalagia, mental retardation, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue, epilepsy, MS, and brain tumors all are known to be negatively impacted by consumption of Aspartame.

Children are at a particular risk for neurological damage caused by aspartame. Aspartame causes excess amounts of a nerve signal chemical called “aspartate”. In children, the blood brain barrier is not developed enough to defend against excess amounts of this chemical. The body has other, secondary, mechanisms to defend against excess aspartate, however, aspartame attacks these mechanisms as well. The results are devastating; damage to cells which decreases cellular ability to make energy, send and respond to signals. In addition, an increase in cancer risk is apparent.

Yet, the evidence is not convincing enough to business to remove aspartame from the market.  BEWARE of aspartame; it can be found in thousands of items where you would not expect it, including but not limited to gum, yogurt, jello, Children’s Tylenol, Flintstones Chewable Vitamins, and energy bars. Be wary of anything labelled “low calorie”, “sugar free”, or “diet.”

Your defense is good, old-fashioned label-reading.

Avoid aspartame–and the other artificial sweeteners. Drop the diet soda–or regular soda–habit. Read the labels of food you buy to be sure aspartame is not added, and look forward to part 2 which will include information on other artificial sweeteners!

When you need something sweet, stick to natural sweeteners:

Fruit: Apples, strawberries, banana, raspberries…So many possibilities with the most natural sweetener there is! Applesauce and banana are great in baking. Dates are incredibly sweet and useful for almost any sweetening needs. If you can find a way to use fruit as a sweetener, go for it because these are some of the best options.

Vanilla beans: After these gems are dried in the sun, you can purchase them and blend them to create a sweet paste useful as a sweetener. Raw Food Dieters have been using this trick for ages.

Natural Maple Syrup: great in baking–especially cornbread!

Honey: great for baking, great for tea, and great for throat or allergy issues.

Stevia lucida #1

Stevia lucida plant: found in S. American and used often in Paraguay and Japan. (Photo credit: J.G. in S.F.)

Stevia: Many in the health field recommend the use of Stevia as a low calorie sugar substitute. Be sure to avoid name brand stevia products as most of them are processed; purchase all-natural stevia. I am wary about this, but right now there is no evidence to recommend against it. It is much sweeter than sugar, so you will be using less, and that is a good thing.

Dried Cane Juice/Sucanat: another Raw-Food-Dieter trick because it has a consistency just a bit grainier than real sugar. Sucanat is the brand name of the most natural form of dried cane juice. When you blend Sucanat, it becomes a powder which can easily be substituted for powdered sugar.

There are still more natural sweetener options. The possibilities are endless; this leaves no excuse for having artificial sweeteners at home.

Resources:

Docket # 02P-0317: Recall Aspartame as a Neurotoxic Drug: File. Food and Drug Administration; summary by Mark Fold of the Aspartame Toxicity Information Center, Jan. 12, 2003.

Articles on aspartame. http://aspartame.mercola.com/

Anrig, Claudia, D.C. “Too Sweet to Be Good? The Potential Health Hazards of Artificial Sweeteners” Dynamic Chiropractic: Nutritional Wellness 4 Nov. 2012. 8.4 <http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/column.php?c_id=1502&gt;

“Stevia: the ‘Holy Grail’ of Sweetener Exposed.” April 10, 2012. A pertnership of the American Culinary Federation Chef &Child Coundation (CCF) and Clemson University.

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~ by danclaps on January 21, 2013.

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