In the past I’ve told you about some food additives that are detrimental to one’s health and should be removed from your diet: high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and artificial colorings. I hope you’ve been able to read labels and start removing them from your diet. I have another food additive for you to be aware of and also start removing from your diet: aspartame and other artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners have been listed among the 12 food additives to avoid. If you think you are safe from artificial sweeteners just because you don’t drink diet soda – think again. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and acesulfame-K are also found in many other products, from chewing gum to desserts, diet foods, gelatins, yogurt, puddings, sugar-free desserts, oral hygiene products, coffee flavoring, snack foods, and even some vitamins and cough drops. Actually, aspartame is found in about 6,000 foods on grocery store shelves.

Artificial sweeteners and their brand names:

  • Aspartame: NutraSweet® or Equal®
  • Saccharin: Sweet ‘N Low®
  • Sucralose: Splenda®

Also, be on the lookout for a newer, modified version of aspartame: Neotame. It likely carries similar health risks to the original. Neotame is chemically related to aspartame, but has greater heat stability and is 72 times sweeter.

Health Dangers of Sucralose

  • Sucralose alters gut microflora and inhibits the assimilation of dietary nutrients.
  • Sucralose is a chlorinated molecule. Chlorinated molecules, which are used as the basis for pesticides such as DDT, tend to accumulate in body tissues. Research has shown that 11 to 27 percent of sucralose is absorbed in humans.
  • Sucralose has been implicated in severe chronic illnesses including brain and nervous system disorders, migraine headaches, cancers, and immune-system debilitation.
  • Animal studies have shown that sucralose can cause shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage), enlarged liver and kidneys, atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus, decreased red blood cell count, and diarrhea.

Quick Aspartame Facts

Health Dangers of Aspartame

There are over 900 published studies on the health hazards of aspartame. The FDA has established 92 medical/health problems that have symptoms associated with aspartame. Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) lists aspartame on the foods to avoid list as a possible neurotoxin and as a likely cancer risk.

Aspartame Components

Aspartame contains three chemical components: phenylalanine (50%), aspartic acid (40%), and methanol (10%). Phenylalanine and aspartic acid are amino acids that are normally supplied by the food we eat; they are harmless when consumed as part of natural unprocessed foods. However when they are chemically manipulated and consumed out of the normal ratios to other amino acids (consumed as isolates), they can cause problems.

Aspartic Acid

Aspartic acid is an excitotoxin, which means it “excites” or stimulates your neural cells to death, according to neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock. The damage caused by excitotoxin food additives is not usually dramatic; effects are cumulative and develop over a long period of time.

Once 75 percent or more of the neurons are gone, chronic illnesses might appear such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, memory and hearing loss, hormonal problems, Epilepsy, brain lesions, and neuroendocrine disorder.


Excessive levels of phenylalanine in your brain can cause the levels of serotonin in your brain to decrease, leading to emotional disorders such as depression. It can also cause schizophrenia or make you more susceptible to seizures.


Ten (10) percent of aspartame is absorbed into the bloodstream as methanol (wood alcohol). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states safe consumption as no more than 7.8 mg/day, but a one-liter aspartame-sweetened beverage contains about 56 mg of methanol – 8 times the EPA limit!

Methanol is considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed. Methanol poisoning can lead to changes in your vision and ultimately, blindness. Methanol breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde in your body; both of these metabolites are toxic.

Information About Formaldehyde

Aspartame and Weight Gain

Does this information shock you? Many people wanting to lose weight turn to diet foods, which are filled with aspartame. These same people often wonder why they aren’t losing weight. Actually, artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body’s ability to correctly interpret calorie intake.

Phenylalanine blocks production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that tells you when you’re full. A shortage of serotonin will bring on food cravings for high-calorie, carbohydrate-rich snacks which can lead to weight gain. In a recent study, a control group switching to an aspartame-free diet resulted in an average weight loss of 19 pounds.

Also, phenylalanine and aspartic acid stimulate the release of insulin and leptin – hormones which instruct your body to store fat.

Aspartame and Brain Cancer

The subject of aspartame and cancer continues to be controversial.

Why Do Chemicals Create Tumors?


It’s because the body isn’t designed to remove so many man-made chemicals. Toxic chemicals are commonly found inside cancers, and cancers are a way your body corrals all of the chemicals most people eat and are exposed to, along with other toxic crud, to keep it out of your bloodstream.

People at Greater Risk of Reaction to Aspartame

Your blood brain barrier (BBB) is a system of capillary structures that prevent toxins from entering your brain.

  • Diabetics, smokers, and people with hypertension may have a compromised BBB and might experience a heightened reaction to aspartame.
  • Unborn children and infants up to one year of age have incomplete and not well-insulated BBBs. Excitotoxins enter their nervous systems easily and quickly.
  • Others at higher risk include: older persons, those at risk for phenylketonuria (PKU), patients with liver disease, iron-deficiency anemia, kidney impairment, migraine, hypoglycemia, and hypothyroidism.

Artificial Sweeteners During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Few if any pregnant and breastfeeding women are warned of the dangers of consuming artificial sweeteners. However, during the first year of life, irreversible brain damage can result from chemicals in breast milk that have crossed the unborn child’s blood brain barrier. Babies under a year are four times more sensitive to excitotoxins than adults.

Also alarming is evidence women who consumed aspartame during pregnancy were delivering babies with an increased risk of brain and spinal cord cancer.

Controversy Over Safety Studies

In 1996 an analysis was conducted of all the medical studies at the time and it was found that in the studies sponsored by the aspartame industry, 100 percent of them claimed there were no health problems associated with aspartame use. Of the studies that had no connections to industry, all but seven of them identified one or more problems with aspartame use. (Of the seven studies that did not find problems, the FDA had conducted six.)

Of approximately 100 independent studies conducted on aspartame, over 90 percent have demonstrated significant health risks.

There have only been six human trials of sucralose (Splenda®) to date. There have been no long-term human toxicity studies published until after the FDA approved sucralose for human consumption. Following FDA approval a human toxicity trial was conducted, but lasted only three months. No studies have ever been done on children or pregnant women.

What to Do?

Bottom line: these substances can poison your body. When you consume a food or beverage that was created in a lab instead of by nature, your body doesn’t recognize it and that can lead to short-term and long-term damage. To continue consuming them would be a movement toward the development of chronic disease.

Compared to artificial sweeteners, sugar is preferred. Now, I also don’t advocate eating lots of sugar, but if you have some, at least it is natural. And whatever you do, do not give artificial sweeteners to children!

More Information

I can’t cover all the information out there about the dangers of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, but I highly encourage you to read more:

Wendy –

Healthy Living SeriesRead all the posts in the Healthy Living series by clicking on the icon on the left.

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[Image courtesy Jade Gordon.]

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