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Volume III
April 27, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

What You Should Know About Aspartame

By Patty Liston

No one likes to be told what to eat or drink. After all, we are adults and have the freedom to make, fix, purchase or order anything we choose. However, this attitude may change as health care costs continue to rise and employers and employees balk at paying inflated premiums.

Most of us understand that the bottom line to good health rests in the old adage: you are what you eat. Barring a catastrophic illness, many, if not most of our aches, pains and sickness, can be lessened by understanding and practicing proper nutrition. Even Type 2 Diabetes, now the 7th leading cause of death, can be lessened with proper eating and exercise habits.

Knowing that our nation as a whole is stepping up to health, media savvy advertisers and food corporations have jumped on the "health" band wagon by introducing low sugar, non-fat foods as a way to tap into the consumer's desire to cut back on sugar. Isn't a "low sugar artificially sweetened" food good for you? That depends on what has replaced the "sugar". If the list of ingredients include aspartame, the answer would be no.

Aspartame is made up of 3 ingredients: phenylalanine (50%), aspartic acid, (40%) and menthol, (10%). According to Dr. Mercola and research being conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, these 3 chemicals combined can cause a toxic reaction in our bodies. The FDA reports that aspartame accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to them. Some of these complaints include:

If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the above symptoms, and is known to be an aspartame or other artificial sweetener consumer, contact the The FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator page. This page lists the phone number for each state where you can report adverse reactions to any FDA-regulated product. Your responses will help them to continue their evaluation of not only aspartame, but other artificial sweeteners currently being watched.

If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, there is a way to find out if aspartame, or another artificial sweetener, is the reason. According to Dr. Mercola, do the following experiment:

•  Eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet for two weeks.

•  After two weeks of being artificial sweetener-free, reintroduce your artificial sweetener of choice in a significant quantity (about three servings daily). Avoid other artificial sweeteners during this period.

•  Do this for one to three days and notice how you feel, especially as compared to when you were consuming no artificial sweeteners.

•  If you don't notice a difference in how you feel after re-introducing your primary artificial sweetener for a few days, it's a safe bet you're able to tolerate it acutely, meaning your body doesn't have an immediate, adverse response. However, this doesn't mean your health won't be damaged in the long run.

•  If you've been consuming more than one type of artificial sweetener, you can repeat steps 2 through 4 with the next one on your list.

I admit that I loved my diet drinks. However, after reading the science behind artificial sweeteners, I went "cold turkey". I have eliminated diet drinks and read carefully the list of ingredients prior to purchasing food. When I want to sweeten my tea, or anything else, I use natural sweeteners such as those made with xylitol. Interestingly, all of the local markets around my home now carry a wide array of these xylitol products, such as stevia, which is an all natural sweetener made from the stevia plant. No side-effects and 100% natural. Perfect!

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