Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It taste good, but is it good for you? The dangerous chemical in crystal light packages: Aspartame

While growing up, my mother was never a big fan of juice. She kept only water in the house for everyone to drink. Although, she didn’t allow us to use sweeteners, my mother always added them to her water for flavor. She used a range of different brands, but within the past three years, she has mostly used crystal lite. Due to the excessive amount of water sweeteners that she consumed, over the past two years my mother has been in and out of the doctor very often due to constant migraines. She informed the doctors what her normal diet consisted of and after running numerous test, the doctors told her that she must stop using the sweeteners due to toxic chemicals they produced. The doctors informed my mother that there was Aspartame in the water sweeteners that cause damage to the brain, which had a popular side affect of headaches. The doctors did not go into detail about how this happened, so I took it upon myself to research and find out. Due to my prior knowledge of biology and chemistry, it was not hard to grasp the concept of why this chemical is so dangerous. While explaining it to my mother on the other hand, she did not understand quite much. This led me to understand why many doctors don’t go into great detail with their patients.

Aspartame is a well-known natural sweetener that is used in many different products. For example, equal, cereal, breath mints, carbonated soft drinks, fat free yogurt, and a plethora of other common food products. It is commonly used as a substitute for sugar and artificial sweeteners. It has been found in over 6,000 products throughout the world. The primary source of consumption of Aspartame in the US is through dietary soft drinks, like diet coke and diet sprite. Aspartame is made of aspartate, glutamate, phenylalanine, and methanol

When inside the body these can turn into aspartic acid, and glutamic acid. Since 1974 the compound, Aspartame, has been a huge controversy product since being used as a known ingredient due to the side affects that it has on its consumers.


The primary use for Aspartame is as an artificial sweetener in place of sugar. For example; crystal lite, and MIO. It is believed that Aspartame is not as fattening as sugar, and is therefore widely used in dietary foods and drinks. Exotoxins like Aspartame actually have a reverse effect of the body by increasing a person’s appetite, while weight loss foods are supposed to do the exact opposite. According to many researchers, experiments have been done proving that Aspartame actually causes weight gain. Due to the adverse effects of Aspartame, the FDA has revoked manufacturers rights to publish any products containing Aspartame as a weight reduction food, although it can still be labeled under dietary content.

According to an article I found written by Dr. Mercola, there are many acute as well as chronic illness caused by high ingestion of Aspartame. These symptoms that arrive consist of:
Acute Symptoms
Chronis Effects
Anxiety attacks
Brain tumors
Memory loss
Multiple sclerosis
Loss of taste
Difficulties breathing
Parkinson’s disease
Hearing loss
Blurry vision
Mental retardation
Birth defects

Weight gain




These illnesses are more sever in children, pregnant women, and senior citizens due to their weak immune systems. Children have underdeveloped and immature immune systems, allowing the slightest amount of Aspartame to cause damage. Senior citizens on the other hand, have immune systems, which are constantly disintegrating, making their bodies very acceptable to illnesses. Aspartame is very dangers to pregnant women, not necessarily on the woman but the baby she is carrying.

The way aspartame causes damage to the body is due to the production of aspartate glutamate and phenylalanine. During digestion of aspartame, it releases aspartate and glutamate. Glutamate is found in high protein food such as meat. Aspartate and glutamate are excitatory amino acids and neurotransmitters that facilitate the transfer of information between neurons. Excitatory amino acids are amino acids that are essential to the body. They are normal brain chemicals and are freely able to cross the brain barrier. Due to this, the brain cannot detect an excess amount of aspartate or glutamate
The brain barrier is only able to protect and exclude harmful chemicals from entering the brain. When a large amount of neurotransmitters enter the brain, it builds up and eventually reaches a toxic level. When in extremely high conditions, Aspartame generates methanol. After a while, the build up begins to act as a poison and results in the death of nerve cells and neurons located throughout the brain. These enzymes (aspartate and glutamate) do so by exciting the nerve cells until they die. Over twenty five percent of the nerve cells can be killed before any symptoms of illness arise. Below is a diagram of how the blood-brain barrier works in which necessary compounds are able to pass this barrier freely, while others are blocked, and certain ones can pass utilizing ATP. Excitatory compounds such as Aspartate and glutamate are compounds, which do not need assistance of transport molecules to pass the brain barrier.

Aspartame is made up of Phenylalanine, which when ingested can causes a huge influx in the brain and blood system. An increase of phenylalanine in the brain causes a reduction of serotonin. This in turn causes emotional disorders. Along with emotional disorders, serotonin affects decision making by inhibiting impulse behavior, and when the serotonin levels decrease a person will be more likely to act off impulse, for example: hypo activity, hyperactivity and depression. It also causes a decrease in one's appetite. A decrease of serotonin leads to constant hunger and increased food consumption. An excess build up of phenylalanine can also cause schizophrenia and seizures. Phenylalanine also breaks down into toxin called aspartylphenylaline diketopiperazine, which cause brain tumors and damaging in blood cholesterol levels throughout the body.

Methanol is another harmful component of Aspartame; it acts as a deadly poison. Methanol is formed by hydrolysis when Aspartame is exposed to high acidic environments. Hydrolysis is the transformation of the methyl ester and water to methanol and the carboxylic acid. When aspartame is ingested, methanol is released into the small intestine. Once methanol is in the small intestine it breaks down into toxic formic acid and formaldehyde. Formic acid is the main primary component of methanol poisoning a deadly neurotoxins. It concentrates in the brain, kidneys, and spinal fluid. Formaldehyde interferes with the DNA replication process by binding to DNA and causing it to break. Once Formaldehyde is attached to DNA it is extremely hard to remove causes it to remain in the body.
and at sufficiently high concentration is

“Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods,” said Dr. Mercola. While doing research, I have came across many statements such as this one, addressing the dangers and side effects caused by the consumption of Aspartame. Aspartame is a topic constantly discussed by doctors and food nutritionists around the world. Although there are so many dangers caused by the ingestion of aspartame, the FDA still approves it to be in foods. Many doctors are completely against the productions of food containing aspartame due to the thousands of research and experiments, which has clinically proven the dangers, caused by this compound. The FDA fails to document the dangers and illnesses directly caused by Aspartame. "Out of 90 independently-funded studies, 83 of them found one or more 
problems caused by aspartame, but out of the 74 studies funded by the aspartame, every single one of them claimed that no problems were found?” – Joseph Watson. Many researchers believe that the FDA and Aspartame companies are covering up their findings and still allowing this dangerous chemical to be present in foods despite its harmful characteristics. There have been many attempts by numerous health nutritionists and doctors to ban the use of Aspartame in foods, but the FDA continues to allow it.

Aspartame is far more dangerous when ingested by young children as opposed to adults. Adults have the enzymes to detoxify the excitatory amino acids (aspartate and glutamate) when they enter the brain. Children on the other hand do not have the ability to do so, due to their immature protective enzymes. Pregnant women have the ability to expose their unborn child to high glutamate levels by consuming foods with Aspartame. Studies show that an infants brain is four times more sensitive to effects caused by excitotoxins than in an adult brains. It is apparent that people will eat foods with Aspartame due to the fact that it is a component of thousands of foods, but it is very important for pregnant women to monitor the amount of Aspartame they consume.

Blood Brain Barrier

H.J. Roberts, MD.  Aspartame (NutraSweet): Is it Safe? Philadelphia: Charles Press, 1989.

Martini, Betty. Two New studies on Aspartame and Dietary Drinks. Mission Possible International, Duluth Ga, 2005.

Mercola, MD. Aspartame is, by far the most Dangerous Substance on the Market that is Added to Foods, 20011

Russell L Blaylock.  Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.  Health Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1995, p. 35-39.

Watson Paul. Government says Aspartame is good for you.

Blood Brain Barrier

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