In order to verify if this is a truth or a myth we must first look at the composition of this artificial sweetener.

 The Ingredients
Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than natural sugar and is made up of 40% aspartic acid, 50% phenylalanine and 10% methanol. (Tex Heart Inst J 2003; 30:314–5)

 Aspartic Acid

Aspartate, the salt form of aspartic acid, is a neurotransmitter in the brain that facilitates information from one neuron (brain cell) to another. Too much aspartate allows an influx of calcium into the brain cells, therefore triggering an excessive amount of free radicals, which kill the nerve cells. Aspartate is referred to as an “excitotoxin” because of the nerve cell damage that it causes. Many chronic illnesses have been attributed to long-term excitotoxin exposure, including multiple sclerosis, ALS, memory loss, hormonal problems, hearing loss, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, hypoglycemia, dementia, brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders.

Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine is an amino acid normally found in the brain. Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain can cause the levels of serotonin (happy/feel good chemical) to decrease, which can lead to depression, sleep disturbances, schizophrenia and make one more susceptible to seizures.
Research on human subjects has shown phenylalanine levels in the blood are increased significantly in those who chronically use aspartame.

Methanol

By far, the most controversial ingredient in aspartame is methanol also known as wood alcohol. An assessment of methanol from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states that it 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 oxidation occurs when methanol reaches 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). Do you think it is a problem for us? Absolutely it is… our body on average is 98.6 degrees. When I did my fellowship in Human Anatomy I had to wear a respirator and wear protective coverings head to toe, because formaldehyde is a known carcinogen (cancer causing agent).  Formic Acid is bee and ant venom. Imagine a lifetime of small toxics doses of these substances; overtime do you think this would lead to health?

According to the EPA, the consumption limit of methanol is 7.8 mg/day. Did you know consuming 1 Liter of aspartame-sweetened beverage contains about 56 mg of methanol? That is seven times the EPA limit.

The most common maladies related to methanol poisoning are vision problems including misty vision, progressive contraction of visual fields, blurring of vision, obscuration of vision, retinal damage, optic nerve damage and blindness.

I see nothing in this product that actually makes you healthy, thus I would say to the statement,  “the artificial sweetener Aspartame actually helps you get healthy,” is most certainly a myth!!!
Interesting Aspartame Statistics

  • In 1984, 6,900,000 lbs of aspartame were consumed in the U.S.
  • In 1985, G.D. Searle (NutraSweet) was bought out by Monsanto, 14,400,000 lbs. of aspartame were consumed in the U.S. that same year.
  • 15,700,000 lbs of aspartame were consumed in the U.S. in 1986.
  • 17,100,000 lbs were consumed in 1987.
  • NutraSweet stopped providing consumption data to the USDA after 1987!!! (Can you imagine what it is today!)
  • In 1996, the FDA removed all restrictions on aspartame and authorized its use in all products, including heated and baked goods. This was done in spite of the fact that aspartame breaks down into formaldehyde above 86 degrees F.
  • Today, aspartame accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. How sweet it is? A few of the 90 different documented symptoms include: headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss and joint pain.
  • Which one are you ready for?

Until next time,

Take Care and God Bless

Dr. Bentley