A number of years ago, a friend of mine who is a successful attorney was on a cleansing and weight loss diet which even included short periods of fasting. One thing he allowed himself to consume was large amounts of diet soda; they are, after all, low in calories, right? One Saturday we were outdoors participating in a charity work project, having a great time with a number of other friends. It was a warm day, so my buddy had consumed several diet drinks. All of a sudden he went into a full-blown grand mal seizure and became unresponsive; it was a scary, ugly scene. Someone called an ambulance, and he was transported to the hospital for emergency care and observation. He had never experienced anything like this seizure before. After a painstaking examination and history were conducted, he was told that the culprit was the artificial sweetener, aspartame.
Aspartame is a sugar substitute developed in the 1960s and is known by a number of different product names, such as Nutrasweet or Equal, depending on the manufacturer. It is low calorie and over 200 times sweeter than the regular table sugar that it replaces. Its major components are the amino acids, phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and in addition, weakly bonded methanol. Manufacturers and marketers of aspartame products claim such benefits as it tasting like sugar but without the spike in blood sugar levels or tooth decay. They state that it enhances flavors, yet has fewer calories than table sugar.
The methanol component is a nondrinking type of alcohol commonly used for industrial purposes like paint thinner, as well as automotive applications such as fuel additives and windshield wiper fluid. Methanol is extremely toxic, even poisonous. The body converts it into formaldehyde which causes damage to the DNA and body tissues. Consumption of comparatively small amounts has been associated with over 90 adverse symptoms as diverse as vision problems including blindness, breathing difficulties, headache, fatigue, dizziness, convulsions and seizures, vomiting, liver and pancreas damage, and death.
In the 1 ½ hour documentary “Sweet Misery” a young woman who had been consuming diet sodas developed an array of symptoms that landed her in a wheel chair with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. After learning of the link of Aspartame with some of the symptoms, she ceased drinking the sodas and her symptoms disappeared.
Aspartame is an ingredient in over 6,000 different products and is used to sweeten everything from chewing gum to yogurt to soda. It has become increasingly difficult to avoid. You may ask, how did this chemical become so widely prevalent in our food staples today? In the 1990s, popular news correspondent, Mike Wallace, reported on the TV documentary show “60 Minutes” that the approval of aspartame was the “most contested in FDA history.” It was felt that the process was sloppy, ignored warning signs, and was politically influenced, bordering on fraud.
So, if you need to feed your sweet tooth, read the labels and look for natural products like Stevia.