(Natural News) Aspartame is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners on the market. Sold under the brand names “Nutrasweet” and “Equal,” it has made its way into kitchens and restaurants across America, and is a popular choice for “calorie-free” sweetening endeavors across the food industry. Aspartame is lauded for its near-zero calorie status, with propagandist websites suggesting the sweetener is helping consumers with weight control, diabetes and even tooth decay. While no one would argue that over-consumption of sugar is a major public health problem in our modern world, there remains debate about whether not chemical sugar substitutes are the solution.
Indeed, there are many reasons to exercise caution around aspartame and other similar food additives, and the litany of potential adverse effects are certainly convincing enough.
Aspartame isn’t all its cracked up to be
Firstly, aspartame isn’t actually “calorie free.” It contains four calories per gram — which is roughly the same calories as sugar. It is, however, about 200 times sweeter, which means you can use less. Or at least, that’s how the theory goes.
As Sayer Ji, founder of Green Med Info, reports, many studies have shown that the purported benefits of aspartame, such as calorie control, do not actually contribute to the intended goal of weight loss. In animal models, routine consumption of sugar substitutes like aspartame has been found to cause weight gain instead of promoting weight loss.
Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to diabetes and heart disease. Combined with the risk of weight gain, and one might start wonder why these products even exist. After all, they carry all the same risks as regular sugar. Studies have replicated similar findings on the matter of artificial sweeteners over and over again.
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As Sayer Ji explains, the ineffectiveness of sugar substitutes is rooted in human biology. Specifically, our bodies have evolved over time to expect energy in the form of a simple carbohydrate when we taste something sweet. Ji explains further:
This means that aspartame’s intense sweetness will cause the release of neurochemicals such as dopamine and pancreatic hormones such as insulin, that latter of which signals the cellular upregulation of glucose intake. If no glucose is available, this could result in hypoglycemia and/or elevated levels of insulin, further stimulating appetite and molecular processes associated with fat-storage. This same effect may help to explain why Splenda (sucrlose) was recently found to have diabetes-promoting properties.
In other words, artificial sugars actually cause people to be less satisfied after a meal, and may cause people to feel hungrier. Artificial sweeteners are also linked to increased fat storage, due to the effects they have on normal cellular processes. Multiple studies have concluded that aspartame is an ineffective tool for weight management.
Research has also shown that aspartame does contribute to tooth decay. While it is well known that sugar is bad for your teeth, sugar substitutes, including aspartame, have been shown to increase the formation of cavities. Not only do these chemicals increase oral acidity and demineralize your teeth, they also promote the formation of bacterial biofilm on teeth.
More dangerous than sugar?
While its clear that aspartame isn’t good for you, many of its proponents would allege that it is still better than sugar. But is that really true? Beyond the fact that aspartame does none of the things advertisers say it can do, aspartame can also pose a serious threat to human health.
For example, the negative effects of aspartame on the brain are well-documented. As Ji reports, many studies have illustrated the neurotoxic effects of aspartame in animals. Ji explains that aspartame is 40 percent aspartic acid by weight. After being metabolized and released into the body in its free form, aspartic acid becomes an excitotoxin. From there, it can literally stimulate brain cells to death, leading to brain damage and cognitive problems. Aspartame has also been linked to the onset of depression and anxiety.
If that’s not bad enough, research has linked aspartame to many types of cancer, including breast cancer and leukemia.
You can learn more about aspartame, other food additives and more at StopEatingPoison.com.
Sources for this article include: