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Aspartame


futurehope
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So... My husband came home yesterday from work, and proceded to throw out the "Equal" and the Diet Ginger Ale saying he had "aspartame Poisoning". He feels he has the symptoms and wants to go 60 days without it to see if there is any difference.

Has anyone else heard of this? I looked it up on the internet. There seemed to be several sights.

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Yes, this topic has come up before.

http://dinet.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtop...146entry38146

There is a lot of "smoke" on this, but I haven't seen any fire. I have seen no evidence that aspartame is harmful, but it won't harm anyone to give it up, unless they replace it with sugars, especially high-fructose corn syrup in regular soft drinks. I have seen evidence that many of the people who are trying to frighten us away from aspartame are trying to sell stevia. Stevia is an herb that contains some intensely sweet, virtually noncalorific substance. Stevia extract can be used as a sweetener. However, stevia is not on the FDA's "GRAS" list (generally recognized as safe) because it apparently has some pharmacologic effects. These effects might be beneficial for people with type II diabetes; stevia has supposedly been used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes. However, it could therefore theoretically be harmful to people who have a problem with hypoglycemia, like many of the people who post on this forum.

So, I doubt that aspartame is harmful to the body. However, to my great distress, I have learned recently buying chocolate might end up perpetuating human rights violations (including child labor) in Africa, and thus would be bad for one's soul. Evidently, much of the world's chocolate is produced by child labor, especially in the Ivory Coast. The big candy companies, through the Chocolate Manufacturers Association of America, have driven the price of cocoa beans so low that cocoa farm workers cannot afford to send their children to school and may even end up selling their children into slavery. So, I have given up chocolate altogether until I can find a "fair trade" brand.

http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fa...ocoa/index.html

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I actually just watched an episode of "Dr. Know" on this issue. Aspartame, in and of itself, is not poisonous. It is, however, broken down by the body into components that include formaldehyde, which is hepatoxic (liver toxin). They did some testing to see how much one would have to consume to cause liver damage, and it is actually quite a hefty amount--if you're old enough to remember the flack about saccharin, it's the same issue. Basically, you'd need to consume huge amounts of the stuff to cause a problem.

http://health.discovery.com/fansites/dr_know/dr_knowbio.html

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I have heard of it. A while back I got sugar free Kool-Aid(has aspartame). Within 1/2 hour after drinking it I broke out in hives all over. They didn't go away until I took a Benadryl. The same thing happened all the rest of the times I drank it(3 or 4 other times) but every time I did the hives got worse and worse. The last time I drank it I woke up at 5:00 am with my back completely covered(no exaggeration) with hives. My entire back was bumps. After that I tried Stevia and it was great. I have heard that it is the safest artificial sweetener, but am not sure. Hope this helps! :)

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Many people are sensitive to Aspartame, Saccharin and Splenda even in very small quantities. It certainly doesn't hurt for your husband to eliminate it from his diet for a while to see if his body responds positively.

Personally I try to eat as naturally as possible without artificial sweetners, flavors, etc. and just stick to foods that's haven't been fooled around with by man! We never know how chemicals respond in our body especially when they're mixed with other chemicals and toxins that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis.

Thomas - as far as chocolate goes, there are several yummy chocolate bars at the health food store that follow the fair trade act - Rapunzel and Paul Newman are two of many brands that do.

Gena

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Aspartame makes me feel really weird. It seems to exacerbate my symptoms, but then I have a carb problem and my dentist says artificial sweetners are only a step away from the real thing, so who knows. There was a time when the news broke that breast feeding would give your babies cancer, so there's weird stuff on everything if you look hard enough...morgan

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Thanks for your replies.

Ithomas,

If people are steering us clear of aspartame to steer us towards stevia, they are not being very successful.

The stuff my husband read on the internet did not mention stevia.

I've heard about stevia but not much. Is it natural? Can it be used in ccoking? Is it expensive? What does it look like? Where can you get it?

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Futurehope,

Stevia comes from a plant and can usually be found in a healthfood store. You can buy the little packets (packaged just like Splenda) or you can the powder in bulk. It is very sweet so just a little bit goes a long way. Here's an excerpt from this website link on stevia health concerns. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia

Health concerns and limits on use

A European health study found that stevioside depressed the virility of male mice [1]. It has also been reported that steviol, one of the principal metabolites of stevioside, is a mutagen [2]. Based on these findings, the European Commission banned stevia's use in food in the European Union pending further research. It is also banned in Singapore and Hong Kong [3]. Additional animal tests have shown mixed results in terms of toxicology and adverse effects of stevia extract.

Stevia proponents point out that stevia has been used by millions of users in modern countries such as Japan for thirty years, with no reported or known harmful effects on humans.

Whole foods proponents draw a distinction between consuming (and safety testing) only parts, such as stevia extracts and isolated compounds like stevioside, versus the whole herb. In his book Healing With Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford cautions, "Obtain only the green or brown [whole] stevia extracts or powders; avoid the clear extracts and white powders, which, highly refined and lacking essential phyto-nutrients, cause imbalance".

In 1991, at the request of an anonymous complainant, the United States Food and Drug Administration labelled stevia as an "unsafe food additive", and restricted its import. The FDA's stated reason was "toxicological information on stevia is inadequate to demonstrate its safety" [4]. This ruling was controversial, as stevia proponents pointed out this designation goes against the FDA's guidelines, under which any natural substance used prior to 1958 with no reported adverse effects should be recognized as safe. After stevia was banned, several of members of the FDA board left their jobs. They were all hired at the Nutrasweet Company (a Monsanto subsidiary) in higher pay jobs, according to National (government) records. This has been criticized as a legal bribe by Nutrasweet to the FDA, to ban Stevia (then Nutrasweet's main competitor) in the U.S.

In 1995, the FDA revised its stance to permit stevia to be used as a dietary supplement, although not as a food additive. Currently, it is legal to import, grow, sell and consume Stevia products in the United States if it is contained within or labelled for use as a dietary supplement. You can buy Stevia products at such U.S. oulets as Whole Foods, General Nutrition Center, and other stores that carry natural foods.

Similarly, in Australia and Canada, stevia has been approved only for dietary supplements. However stevia has been grown on an experimental basis in Ontario since 1987 for the purpose of determining the feasibility of growing the crop commercially.

Good Luck!

gena

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Gena,

Wow! I can't help but wonder about "following the money trail" on any decisions that are made regarding food additives and also medications.

In simpler terms, one has to ask themselves, is a company financially benefitting by making a certain decision? Also, are some government agencies swayed by someone's dollars? I wouldn't be surprised if the possibility of more profits, or the possibility of financial kickbacks, sways some public health decisions.

Which leads me to sadly conclude that the availablility, or lack of availability, of certain foods or additives probably has more to do with profits than with benefitting public health. Oh well. Buyer beware!

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The aspartame consists of two amino acids with a methyl group (CH3) attached. It is broken down into scary sounding metabolites, such as methanol and formaldehyde--but so are a lot of natural substances. You'd get a bigger dose of methanol from drinking fruit juice and a bigger dose of phenylalanine from drinking milk. But somehow no one forwards me frantic chain e-mails telling me about people who were magically cured and no longer needing a wheelchair if they gave up milk or fruit juice for 48 hours. None of the warnings I've seen about aspartame seem to have been written by anyone who has any background whatsoever in toxicology.

I have seen warnings from genuine scientists about the fact that the high levels of fructose in the modern American diet (largely because of the explosion in the use of high-fructose corn syrup in processed foods) could be contributing to our serious epidemic of obesity and type II diabetes in increasingly younger people. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, amputation, stroke, etc. So excessive consumption of fructose is probably a major public health problem. Yet no one forwards frantic chain e-mails to warn me about fructose. How strange. If people take the warnings about aspartame seriously, will they give up aspartame and then consume more fructose and other sugars? So I'm worried that the warnings about aspartame could do more harm than good.

That being said, I'll admit that I consume virtually no artificial sweeteners anyway. I rarely drink any soft drinks, except Gatorade made from powder, which has real sugar.

Here's a recent article about stevia:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_docsum

It said that stevia could improve insulin sensitivity in a rat model. This is encouraging information, given the current epidemic of insulin resistance. However, this same finding suggests that stevia could be very harmful to people with hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia (and I know that there are POTS patients who have this). So I wouldn't use it unless I knew I had insulin resistance and no bouts of hypoglycemia.

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Ithomas521,

I hear ya. I think what happens is, someone (in this case my husband) starts noticing health issues that are new. They then start asking themselves, "What has changed in my life or diet?" It's a natural thing to start questioning everything to see if there is something one can do about the problem.

So, my husband is now off of the aspartame and we will see if it helps with his ringing ears and his fluctuating blood pressure both of which he didn't used to have.

Personally, I'm uncomfortable with foods that don't occur naturally. That's just my preference.

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