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Aspartame and other Artificial Sweeteners. Are these substances dangerous to us?

25 May

Sugar as a commodity has been a major factor in power control throughout the ages. If you do a history report on sugar, you’ll find it related to some of the greatest empires of the ancient world and is a staple ingredient in commercialized, industrialized business even before the industrial age. Like no other drug or substance in the world has sugar silently accosted our subconscious to the point where we believe in its necessity as a marker of quality of life and prestige. Sugar’s supply and demand were indirectly responsible for the African continent slave trade, the powerhouse international corporation East Indian Trading Company, and the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms. In a way, it was the first real drug whose importance equaled silk and spices in the colonial importation to Europe. Even Chinese emperors, known throughout the ages for their exclusionary cultural practices but leniency in trade matters, made official trips to India in the 7th century Indian subcontinent to obtain sources of this white gold.

In modern times, the natural sources of sugar have not dwindled, but the introduction of other types of “sugars” usually classified as artificial sweeteners has decreased the world need and monopoly of the sugar trade by creating sugar “substitutes” chemically made and most of them discovered by accident as leftovers of chemical reactions that were meant for anti-cancer, anti ulcer, or industrial components (see coal tar and saccharin). Most of these “artificial” sweeteners were found by some chemist who licked their fingers and made the assessment and by business gurus who saw how this could change world economics while lining their coffers. Indeed, the result of these “discoveries” have only led to new monopolies. Consider that Brazil is the highest producer of sugar in the worlds up to 28% of the world yield and 25% of the world’s exported sugar. In ancient times this would have been the foundation of a kingdom, yet Brazil is still lagging some 3rd World countries in GDP and leads in population poverty and mortality rates. It is a by product of the remnants of colonialism that makes clean water hard to come by for Fiji Islanders, African countries stripped of economic wealth without growth to show for it, and sugar now no longer the commodity giant it was in past ages.

One of the first artificial sweeteners created, saccharin, was a derivative of coal tar and it’s history is basically two scientists, one who became rich for marketing and the other forgotten except in patents. Since its creation there had been a technological rush to find a more suitable form (saccharin is not useful in baking and is not a stable crystalline nature like sucrose aka table sugar).

Aspartame is the result of years of chemical study and grants and research papers. Also known as Nutrasweet, it is in every diet drink, every packet of chewing gum, and found in little colored packets in diners across the US, When it was first created in a lab of G.D. Searle company the world of doctors thought they had finally found a no calorie sugar substitute (aspartame is not really no calorie, because it is 300 times sweeter than sugar less can be use so we say the calories are negligible). However, when researchers began using it to replace caloried sugar in diabetic patients many began developing signs of diabetes much faster than control groups. Dr. H.J. Roberts was the premiere diabetes researcher at the time and his findings are fantastically ignored by the FDA. His 1038 page research and Congressional testimony are hallmarks in the fight against aspartame.

If all that sounds a little outdated here is a recent study done. A 2005 study by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio showed that increased weight gain and obesity were associated with increased use of diet soda in a population based study. The study did not establish whether increased weight gain leads to increased consumption of diet drinks or whether consumption of diet drinks could have an effect on weight gain.

But hell with statistics right? They may not be for everyone. Why is Aspartame so dangerous? The answer is not that aspartame itself is a dangerous chemical to the body. Quite the opposite, chemicals like glutamate and aspartic acid (one of the main amino acids in aspartame) cross brain and blood barriers because they are one of the many essential components in the production of certain amino acids. No the real danger lies in how they are situated together.

Table sugar (sucrose) is a crystalline structure with a fairly high temperature before it breaks down and denatures. The problem since the invention of saccharin is that these “artificial sweeteners” do not have the same bonding nature and so degrade at lower temperatures. For instance, aspartame will break down into its constituents and amino acids at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Ask yourself what the normal body temperature of a healthy individual is. When the constituents are broken down, aspartame gives off 3 products: Aspartic acid (40%), a methyl ester (10%), and phenylalanine (50%). The normal amount of aspartic acid in our bodies at a given time is fractional when compared to amounts of aspartic acid recieved from the breakdown of aspartame in normal human consumption leading to an overabundance of excitatory chemicals that interact between the blood and brain barrier. Phenylalanine is a nuerotoxin, and those with phenylketonuria (an inability to break down phenylalanine) must avoid products containing phenylalanine at all costs. For normal people phenylalanine lowers the threshold for excitation which depletes serotonin levels. Low serotonin levels have been linked to manic depression, bi-polarism, and other psychiatric complaints.

The biggest health concern is the 10% methyl ester. When broken down the methyl esters become methanol, then formaldehyde and formic acid. Formaldehyde is the chemical used to embalm corpses for dissection (any doctor who has worked in an anatomy lab can attest to it’s smell) and formic acid is the active substance in ant and bee stings. Both are toxic substances to the body and are mutagenic in certain animal studies. The methanol breakdown occurs in the eyes and may be a factor in diabetic symptoms of vision blindness and not solely due to blood glucose ratio.

Interesting fact. The FDA at first were not fully on board with G.D Searle’s research into aspartame. They actually intended to indict G.D Searle for fraud and faulty research regarding aspartame (they apparently found various problems with the research, record keeping, mis labeling, and miscontrolled subjects leading to disinformation in their research). However the CEO at time was a savvy guy named Don Rumsfeld. He made sure that the FDA approved aspartame while avoiding audit. When Searle was sold to Monsanto (who now currently owns the patent on aspartame and is its worldwide producer) Rumsfeld made, according to some sources, 12 million dollars (in 1984 money, which is (I’m told) a lot of money).

I will continue this subject later, because I have a lot to say about the subject, but my advice is to CEASE AND DESIST BUYING CONSUMING FOR YOUSELF OR YOUR CHILDREN ANY PRODUCT WITH ASPARTAME AS ONE OF THE INGREDIENTS INCLUDING: ALL DIET DRINKS, NUTRASWEET, MOST CHEWING GUMS (bubbalicious and old high fructose corn syrup gums like Big League Chew are safe), and ANY LOW CALORIE FOOD WITH SUGAR SUBSTITUTES.

Don’t be fooled, diet drinks lead to more weight gain and obesity.

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