All about Aspartame

in Health by

By Danette Vernon
My son recently sat down next to me at a family gathering, and said in jest, “I’m thinking about going on the all aspartame diet. What do you think?”
He was joking, but really he was not far off the mark.
Have you stuck a piece of gum in your mouth today? Unless it was from a health food store or was Chiclets brand, it had aspartame or some other artificial sweetener in it. Feel like a refreshing, but low-cal drink? If you down a glass of Crystal Light or a diet soda as a result — aspartame. What about your choice to save a few calories, with a “light” yogurt — aspartame.
What else is this stuff in? Over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs (very common and listed under “inactive ingredients”), vitamin and herb supplements, instant breakfasts, candy, breath mints, cereals, sugar-free chewing gum, cocoa mixes, coffee beverages, instant breakfasts, gelatin desserts, frozen desserts, juice beverages, laxatives, milk drinks, shake mixes, tabletop sweeteners, tea beverages, instant teas and coffees, topping mixes, wine coolers, etc. It’s everywhere …
But, who cares? Your grandma may have used NutraSweet for years, and it’s on every mom and pop restaurant table in the country. Why NOT consume the “all aspartame, all of the time diet,” if you’re trying to lose weight, or just consume a little less sugar?
In the first place, what is it?
Aspartame is marketed under the brand names of NutraSweet, Equal Spoonful, Benevia, and NatraTaste, to name a few.  Aspartame is made of three components, 50% phenylalanine, 40% aspartic acid and 10% methanol (wood alcohol). When aspartame, or its brand name, among many, NutraSweet, is digested, the wood alcohol (methanol) is widely distributed throughout the body including brain, muscle, fat and nervous tissue. It is then metabolized to formaldehyde which enters the cells and binds to the proteins and DNA (the genetic material). Formaldehyde is a known stimulant for cancer and genetic damage in the cell.
On the European Common Market, there has been some progress in that aspartame is banned from all children’s products. Why is this not the case in Canada and the U.S.? You’ll have to ask your congressman, or state senator.
When I was young, in the 1960’s, it was still questionable if smoking cigarettes was even bad for you. Today, you could find with some ease, a number of articles wherein people are worried about their dog inhaling second-hand smoke. What is the future of aspartame in our food system? Hard to say, but with the cancer rate up from when I was a child, from 1 in 12, to 1 in 2, eliminating aspartame is something to consider. So spit out your gum!

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