Aspartame is an artificial/chemical sugar that breaks down into 3 components, 2 naturally occurring amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine) and methanol. It is found in many different types of processed foods/drinks including; lollies, yoghurts, chewing gum, frozen desserts, milk drinks, soft drinks, and many more. Generally speaking if something states it is ‘Sugar Free’ than aspartame is used. It is estimated to be 180-200 times sweeter than table sugar. It is permitted and considered ‘safe’ in Australia and New Zealand in specified amounts.
Aspartame is sold under other names such as Equal and NutraSweet.
Aspartame has been labelled a deadly neurotoxin as it excites the neurons in the brain which leads to neurons becoming damaged and dying as a result, therefore a common symptom that is reported is memory loss. Aspartame has also been shown to create an addictive effect once consumed on a regular basis.
People who suffer for Phenylketonuria (PKU) a genetic disorder where they cannot metabolise phenylalanine are unable to ingest aspartame and need to stay well away.
Other common symptoms that have been experienced and linked to the consumption of aspartame 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.
Researchers and physicians who have been studying the adverse effects of aspartame have also linked aspartame to triggering or worsening chronic illnesses including: brain tumours, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia and diabetes.
There is still much more research to be conducted before aspartame will be removed from foods and drinks, however if you feel that you suffer from any of the symptoms associated with aspartame consumption you are best to remove it from your diet and stick to wholefoods. Symptoms should resolve on their own if caught early enough, however please consult your healthcare practitioner should you require further information.