The Many Dangers of Aspartame

Are you still drinking diet drinks, chewing sugarless gum, or eating processed diet foods? Please read this excerpt from an article written by Dr. Mercola on the dangers of artificial sweeteners. Real Food Whole Health can help you kick the artificial sweetener habit and find healthier substitutes for these dangerous foods. Contact us for your free health consultation today!

Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods. – by Dr Mercola

Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It was discovered by accident in 1965 when James Schlatter, a chemist of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug.
What you don’t know WILL hurt you. Find out the dangerous effects of artificial sweeteners to your health.

Aspartame was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. It was originally approved for dry goods on July 26, 1974, but objections filed by neuroscience researcher Dr John W. Olney and Consumer attorney James Turner in August 1974 as well as investigations of G.D. Searle’s research practices caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put approval of aspartame on hold (December 5, 1974). In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle and made Searle Pharmaceuticals and The NutraSweet Company separate subsidiaries.

Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death.(1) A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.

According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame:(2) Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson’s disease, alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.

Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. The book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” by James and Phyllis Balch, lists aspartame under the category of “chemical poison.” As you shall see, that is exactly what it is.
What Is Aspartame Made Of?

Aspartic Acid (40 percent of Aspartame)

Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, a professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi, recently published a book thoroughly detailing the damage that is caused by the ingestion of excessive aspartic acid from aspartame. Blaylock makes use of almost 500 scientific references to show how excess free excitatory amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid (about 99 percent of monosodium glutamate (MSG) is glutamic acid) in our food supply are causing serious chronic neurological disorders and a myriad of other acute symptoms.(3)
How Aspartate (and Glutamate) Cause Damage

Aspartate and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartate or glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is why they are referred to as “excitotoxins.” They “excite” or stimulate the neural cells to death.

Aspartic acid is an amino acid. Taken in its free form (unbound to proteins) it 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 (glutamate precursor) leads to a high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain.

The blood brain barrier (BBB), which normally protects the brain from excess glutamate and aspartate as well as toxins, 1) is not fully developed during childhood, 2) does not fully protect all areas of the brain, 3) is damaged by numerous chronic and acute conditions, and 4) allows seepage of excess glutamate and aspartate into the brain even when intact.

The excess glutamate and aspartate slowly begin to destroy neurons. The large majority (75 percent or more) of neural cells in a particular area of the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. A few of the many chronic illnesses that have been shown to be contributed to by long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include:

* Multiple sclerosis (MS)


* Memory loss

* Hormonal problems

* Hearing loss

* Epilepsy

* Alzheimer’s disease

* Parkinson’s disease

* Hypoglycemia


* Dementia

* Brain lesions

* Neuroendocrine disorders

Scary stuff, huh? Read the full article HERE and explore the rest of the aspartame site.

Picture credit- How Stuff Works 2005
  • Good thing that a lot of newer sugar-free products (most notably gum) are now using xylitol. Which is sweet, but chemically-speaking “a sugar alcohol”.

    Thanks for the post… I completely agree that non-sugar sweeteners are bad for your health.

    Kevin :: Glyco Trainer
    On Twitter: @glycotrainer
    Web Site:

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, xylitol can be a better option. We use a gum called Spry when we chew gum occasionally and it is sweetened with xylitol. However, some people do not tolerate xylitol well. There is also some speculation that a sweet taste in the mouth still triggers an insulin response, whether or not sugar is actually present. So, it’s probably best kept to a minimum. When I have clients on a blood sugar handling protocol, no sweeteners, even sugar alcohols, are permitted for a time to reset the sugar handling mechanism. Also, chewing gum can disrupt digestion as the chewing motion causes a series of events to begin in the body. Side note: xylitol is very poisonous to dogs (and perhaps other related animals). Make sure to keep it out of reach and do not use a xylitol sweetened toothpaste for your pets.

  • I did read a study on PubMed that indicated/confirmed the toxicity you are talking about in canines.

    But xylitol hast a very low glycemic index and an EXCEPTIONALLY low glycemic load (according to the website – managed by The University of Sydney, arguably an authority on glycemic index).

    Again, thank you for this post. I do not get tired of reading this information as I believe that not enough people are aware of the hidden problems in artificial sweeteners.

  • Absolutely, it does have a low glycemic index (and load). The problem is not with the actual consumption, it’s the sweet taste in the mouth that triggers the insulin response. This is a fairly new finding, but it looks like it has a strong basis in fact- when you look at how the body works- and it’s the sweet taste of sugar (or anything sweet- even sugar alcohols) that starts the insulin response. Now, is it the same as if you ate a dozen Krispy Kremes? No. Surely not. At that point you’re actually digesting the sugar (and who knows what else) and the response (and affect on the body) is much more severe. Nonetheless, it does appear that having a sweet taste in the mouth, regardless of source, triggers some response on some level.

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