Are sugar substitutes really the better option?

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Aspartame, the active ingredient in almost all sugar substitutes, as well as the replacement ingredient for sugar in a lot of soda brands, has been described as “By far the most dangerous substance added to most foods today”, according to mercola.com.

Aspartame was discovered by accident in 1965 by a chemist of G.D. Searle Company, James Schlatter, whilst testing an anti-ulcer drug. The substance was first approved for use with dry goods in 1981 and in carbonated beverages in 1983, later than originally planned as the FDA put the approval of aspartame on hold. In 1985, Monsato purchased G.D. Searle and made Searle Pharmaceuticals and the NutraSweet Company separate subsidiaries.

Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, this cocktail of chemicals are able to trigger or worsen chronic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s, Diabetes and many more. In their book ‘Prescription for Nutritional Healing’, James and Phyllis Balch list aspartame under the category of “chemical poisons”.

The danger of aspartame comes in its ability to damage brain neurons, by acting as a neurotransmitter stimulus, allowing too much calcium into the brain cells. Aspartic acid of which aspartame is roughly 40% is an amino acid, which taken in its free form (unbound to proteins) which significantly raises the blood plasma level of aspartate and glutamate. The excess aspartate and glutamate in the blood plasma shortly after ingesting aspartame or products with free glutamic acid leads to a high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain.

Phenylalanine, of which aspartame is 50%, is also an amino acid, found in the brain. It has been shown that ingesting aspartame, especially along with carbohydrates, can lead to excess levels of phenylalanine in the brain. Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain can cause levels of serotonin in the brain to decrease, leading to emotional disorders such as depression.

The last of aspartames ingredients, Methanol, might be the deadliest of the batch. When the methyl group of aspartame encounters the enzyme chymotrypsin, methanol is gradually released in the small intestine. The absorption of the methanol into the body is sped up considerably when free methanol is ingested. Methanol breaks down into formaldehyde in the body, a deadly neurotoxin used for preserving dead bodies. An EPA assessment of methanol states that methanol is “considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed. In the body, methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde.”

The following is a video describing some of the dangers of aspartame.