How many of you have felt uneasy about the quantity of diet soft drinks your children consume each day? Or special low-cal foods? Or sugar-free products? If your intuition has given you internal warnings (and moms are notorious for intuition), you are correct! As a doctor who sees many children, I am very concerned with the increasing use of artificial sweeteners, especially by children.
The most widely used of these is Aspartame (although it is being slowly “outgrown” by Sucralose – more on that later), found in foods whose ingredients include sugar substitutes. Let’s chat about Aspartame for a bit.
Aspartame was not approved until 1981, and mostly in dry foods. For over eight years the FDA refused to approve it because of the incidence of seizures and brain tumors this drug produced in lab animals. The FDA continued to refuse to approve it until President Reagan took office (a friend of Searle – the pharmaceutical) and fired the FDA Commissioner who wouldn't let it pass. Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes was appointed as the new commissioner. Because there was so much opposition to this drug, a Board of Inquiry was set up. The Board essentially said: "Do not approve Aspartame". Dr. Hayes overruled his own Board of Inquiry. Shortly after Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., approved the use of aspartame in carbonated beverages, he left for a position with Searle's Public Relations, and no one said anything!
Aspartame appears to cause slow, reversible and some irreversible changes in health with long-term use. Here is how: When the methyl group of the Aspartame molecule encounters the enzyme “chymotrypsin” in the intestines, it causes the release of Methanol. And, as we all know, Methanol, or wood alcohol as it is commonly called, is a deadly poison. People may recall that methanol was the poison that has caused some "skid row" alcoholics to end up blind or dead. Methanol is also created from aspartame when it is heated to above
This would occur when an Aspartame-containing product is improperly stored or when it is heated (e.g., as part of “food" preparation, such as Jello).
Methanol breaks down into formic acid as well as formaldehyde in the body - the latter being deadly neurotoxin. The EPA states that methanol "is considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed. In the body, methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde and formic acid; both of these metabolites are toxic." This causes what is known as metabolic acidosis. If you think that this is not a problem, think again. Body temperature hovers around 98° F or 37° C, perfect conditions for Aspartame to be converted to formaldehyde. This tends to affect the retina of the eye and is not a pleasant side effect. Formaldehyde is in the same direct class as cyanide and arsenic, both deadly poisons. It is also used to embalm corpses and as a preservative in vaccines. It has no business being in your child, or you!
The recommend limit of consumption for aspartame is 7.8 mg/day (I totally don’t get this - are they saying that it is OK to poison your children in small doses?). A one-liter (approx. 1 quart) aspartame-sweetened beverage contains about 56 mg of methanol. Heavy users of aspartame-containing products consume as much as 250 mg of methanol daily or 32 times the EPA limit. The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication, and causes birth defects. Due to the lack of a couple of key enzymes, humans are many times more sensitive to the toxic effects of methanol than animals. Therefore, tests of aspartame or methanol on animals do not accurately reflect the danger for humans. As pointed out by Dr. Woodrow C. Monte, Director of the Food Science and Nutrition Laboratory at Arizona State University, "There are no human or mammalian studies to evaluate the possible mutagenic, teratogenic, or carcinogenic effects of chronic administration of methyl alcohol.”
It has been pointed out that fruit juices and alcoholic beverages contain small amounts of methanol. But, it is important to remember, that the methanol in natural products never appears alone. In every case, ethanol is present, usually in much higher amounts. Ethanol is an antidote for methanol toxicity in humans.
The troops of Desert Storm were "treated" to large amounts of aspartame-sweetened beverages which had been heated to over 86 degrees F in the Saudi Arabian sun. Many of them returned home with numerous disorders similar to what has been seen in persons who have been chemically poisoned by formaldehyde. The free methanol in the beverages may have been a contributing factor in these illnesses Other breakdown products of aspartame such as DKP (diketopiperazine), a carcinogen, may also have been a factor.
I always shake my head while watching someone finish off a plate of greasy French fries, fried fish, fried chicken, hamburger, and then drink a diet soda-pop and put an aspartame sugar substitute in their coffee to reduce calories. Nothing could be sadder. I say this because Aspartame actually makes one crave carbohydrates and has been responsible for many cases of diabetes and weight gain.
If your child is suffering from fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms, shooting pains, numbness in the legs, cramps and dizziness, headaches, joint pains, depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision or memory loss, they may be suffering from Aspartame disease and a health professional should be contacted. The paradox is that this product is being promoted to children, especially teens, as a weight-loss sweetener. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In a 1993 act that can only be described as "unconscionable", the FDA approved Aspartame as an ingredient in numerous food items that would always be heated to above 86°degrees F (30°Degrees C). Much worse, on 27 June 1996, without public notice, the FDA removed all restrictions from Aspartame allowing it to be used in everything, including all heated and baked goods. Wonderful!
In other words: Aspartame converts to dangerous byproducts that have no natural countermeasures. A dieter's empty stomach accelerates these conversions and amplifies the damage. Components of aspartame go straight to the brain, and cause damage that causes headaches, mental confusion, seizures and faulty balance - Lab rats and other test animals died of brain tumors when tested.
Why then has this chemical not been taken off the market? The answer is actually quite simple. Apparently the manufacturer funds the American Diabetes Association, the American Dietetic Association, The American Congress and the conference of the American College of Physicians. Need I say more?
There has been considerable public outrage over this product: So much in fact that on April 6, 2004 The National Justice League filed a number of lawsuits and the Defendants in the lawsuits include Coca-cola, PepsiCo, Bayer Corp., the Dannon Company, William Wrigley Jr. Company, Walmart, ConAgra Foods, Wyeth, Inc., The NutraSweet Company, and Altria Corp. (parent company of Kraft Foods and Philip Morris).
The suits allege that the food companies committed fraud and breach of warranty by marketing products to the public such as diet Coke, diet Pepsi, sugar free gum, Flintstone's vitamins, yogurt and children's aspirin with the full knowledge that aspartame, the sweetener in them, is neurotoxic. The lawsuits allege that many companies are poisoning the public.
For safe and sweet alternatives to Aspartame you can try raw honey, stevia, dates, coconut sugar and maple syrup. Most of these are available at your local food store. But let’s get a dose of reality though; one spoon of sugar has only 16 calories. Let’s get real!
Your Amazing Body!
Skin cells live about two to three weeks.
Colon cells die after about four days!
Sperm cells have a life span of only three days.
Brain cells typically last an entire lifetime; neurons in the cerebral cortex (front of brain) are not replaced when they die!