what's the deal with this sweetener? what is the good, bad, and ugly of it all?
i really enjoy having some diet lipton green tea with citrus from time to time, but i'm always curious what's going on inside with the aspartame.
08-12-2008, 07:19 PM
You're going to get all kinds of different opinions on this, and no one "real" answer.
Some people (myself included) are sensitive to aspartame. It makes them sick. I just can't have the stuff, because it causes reactions in me that aren't tolerable. I can have Splenda, but aspartame makes me ill. That doesn't in any way mean ASPARTAME is bad, it just means that I don't react well to it. Our bodies are all different, and we have to decide what works for us all.
Some people have NO problems with aspartame, and continue to use it throughout successful weight loss with no issues whatsoever (not all long term maintainers give up diet Coke!).
Some people believe that, because artificial sweeteners are chemically derived, they cannot possibly be healthy. That's a judgement call we all have to make on our own. I know that aspartame has been extensively studied, and time and again has been shown to be safe in doses that are way larger than anything I'd ever consume. Others don't necessarily believe that artificial sweeteners are UNSAFE, but choose to eat whole, natural foods that are POSITIVE for their bodies only, and exclude them on that basis.
There is research that has found that having artificially sweetened foods and beverages can actually increase craving for sweets, which can make it harder to stay on plan. I've never noticed that effect, but some people have, so keep that in mind.
Bottom line - there is no one answer that works for everyone. I choose to use Splenda, but not other sweeteners, but believe that any sweetener in moderation, so long as it does not prompt you to eat more than you might otherwise by prompting cravings, will probably not harm you long term.
08-12-2008, 07:51 PM
When I use artificial sweetners, I get migraines and more cravings for food. I still use one packet of Splenda in my greek style yogurt a few times a week, but I am trying to sweeten my coffee and tea with Stevia. Some people don't like Stevia and I used to dislike it, until I bought the more expensive kind at Whole Foods. I only need to use an tiny amount and that ends up being enough. Sorry I didn't really answer your question, but I think Mandalinn82 did a fantastic enough job! ;)
08-12-2008, 08:18 PM
I know this doesn't concern aspartame specifically, but ... one article I read indicated that they fed Artificial Sweeteners to rats. It condluded through tests etc that Artificial Sweeteners kind of confuse the body, the sweet taste with no calories part. It seemed according to this article that the body needed to have the higher calories associated with the sweet taste to be able to burn calories efficently. Something to do with the interaction of your bodies sens of sugar satisfaction and calories burned. I don't think I can post links this was on Scienc Daily on 2/11/08.
08-12-2008, 10:06 PM
i kind of figured i'd get split responses, but the ones you gave are great...i don't consume enough aspartame to really feel any difference, but i can see how it may effect some like msg would....
i think there are some drinks sweetened with splenda....
i never thought about the body confusion with real vs fake sweeteners and lack of calories.....the mind/body connection truly is incredible....
08-12-2008, 10:26 PM
Mandalinn said it well, I'll just give you my take since it seems to be a bit different.
I'm one of those who absolutely cannot stand aspartame and believe it to be horrible for the human body, but I'm not a doctor or a scientist, I can only go by the information I've been given...which is that aspartame converts to formaldehyde in the human body. Not something I want in mine to be sure.
I've also known far too many overweight people who were 'hooked' on diet sodas, which probably is another reason I dislike it...since it is in almost every diet soda on the market.
I would suggest you discuss it with your doctor if you have questions about it.
Edit: Here is another thread where the subject of aspartame was discussed:
08-13-2008, 10:03 PM
I started having heart flutters and nearly passing out when I switched to diet soda in an effort to lose weight. Had to wear a heart monitor and everything. Going over what had changed in my life, it was just an experiment to stop consuming aspartame, and that turned out to be the cause.
08-18-2008, 12:50 AM
I normally don't drink soda frequently at all, but I was recently in a summer program which meant my budget was stretched thin so I bought lots of soda since it's cheaper than coffee. For me personally, I really noticed effects afterwards. Whenever I walked, it felt like my brain was sloshing around in my skull and I would get such horrible migraines I couldn't walk because I felt faint. So that really put me off of drinking soda. And that's just the noticeable effects, who know what it does to organs and tissues that we don't feel?
08-18-2008, 11:51 AM
A bit of trivia: aspartame does indeed convert to formaldehyde, or rather phenylalanine does, which aspartame contains. However phenylalanine is an extremely common amino acid, contained in many foods (at much higher concentrations than in aspartame, for example a banana has tons more than a diet soda would). So, if you want to prevent formaldehyde from forming in your body you would have to avoid phenylalanine. However, eliminating phenylalanine from your diet is extremely difficult and unpleasant (people with the disease PKU have to do so from birth, at least until their brain has finished developing). By all accounts, the diet is extremely restrictive, and unpalatable. I've heard it said with this diet that if it tastes good, you probably can't eat it. No chocolate, limited proteins.... and PKU women should return to the diet during pregnancy, but find it almost impossible to do because the diet is so horrible. So, formaldehyde is a byproduct of many, many natural foods, and is perfectly safe in the tiny, tiny concentrations that occur through diet.
I'm not trying to convince anyone that aspartame is a health food, but alot of the "scary" information about it is either false or true but distorted.
08-19-2008, 07:54 PM
The words "metabolizes just like..." always make me cautious! No one will protect you but you! The FDA has allowed hundreds of harmful substances to remain on the market for all sorts of reasons. I have no interest in debate whatsoever, but I'd urge you to take your health into your own hands rather than relying on the FDA to protect you!
08-23-2008, 12:56 PM
Thank you kaplods for clearing that up. I eat 1-2 yogurts a day that contain aspartame and i was getting sad that it was horribly bad and i needed to stop eating it. This is the only food (to my knowledge atleast) that i eat that contains aspartame so i think im okay
11-23-2008, 02:41 PM
I only use Splenda. Anyone know how good that is?
12-14-2008, 08:37 PM
I use aspartame ...sparingly. I usually drink water or tea which I have trained myself to drink unsweetened. Orange Pekoe is great with nothing in it.
I've read aspartame causes cancer but you have to consume a ton of it every day, more than humanly possible to get cancer.
I get the little single servings so I won't be tempted to drink a lot of it if it was in a big pitcher.
Lots of people are sensitive to it as some stated already here. My sister will get sick if she drinks it. Seems like most people who are sensitive to aspartame are also sensitive to MSG. I wonder what the connection is?
I figure limited exposure is about as safe as the other 9 millions things in our life that cause cancer like television and computer monitor exposure, cell phones and the electromagnetic fields surrounding powerlines! :D
12-14-2008, 09:07 PM
I think that a lot of time we're worrying about one risks while ignoring others that are staring us in the face. Like walking out in a blizzard wearing earmuffs, but without any clothes on.
If you're worried about Splenda, or aspartame or high fructose corn syrup - but you're eating at McDonald's every day....
I'm not saying that artificial sweeteners are health foods, but no choice or habit can be evaluated in a vacuum. Crossing the street has its dangers. Understanding the risks as well as you can, and evaluating them the best you can is all any of us can really do.
I personally have not had adverse reactions to aspartame or Splenda. I like the taste of Splenda better, so I use that. I have researched the "scary" stuff about both, especially aspartame - and alot of it is very misleading. Several studies that I did make note of and consider is that aspartame apparently can interfere with folic acid absorption (folic acid is a B vitamin), so very large doses were causing birth defects in lab rats - but it was the vitamin deficiency, not the aspartame causing the birth defects. That's actually a fairly significant difference, because it would be unlikely for humans to ingest enough aspartame to cause a folate deficiency.
Coincidentally, a couple years ago, my neurologist recommended that I take 1000 mg of folic acid daily for my fibromyalgia, and it has helped. When I later read about aspartame and folic acid, I wondered whether my drinking a lot of Crystal Light (at the time) could have theoretically been interfering with folic acid absorption. As a precaution, I continue to take the folic acid supplements, and I do tend to choose Splenda over aspartame, but I don't avoid either. I'm just careful not to use either excessively. I do notice that just like sugar, the less artificial sweetener I use, the less I need to achieve what seems to be the same level of sweetness (I recently bought a candy bar that used to be my absolute favorite, and it tasted horrible to me, far too fatty and sweet like crisco and sugar).
12-14-2008, 09:52 PM
I only use Splenda. Anyone know how good that is?
One of my well meaning thin friends once had a surprise birthday party for me and bought one of those cakes that was sugar-free and made with Splenda.
I didn't want to seem ungrateful but when I took a bite of it (the icing was Splenda too!) it was without a doubt the WORST piece of cake i have ever had in my life. But because I didn't want to hurt this friends feelings I ate the cake without a word (and so did everyone else but all their eyes were wide open like OH MY GOD!)
While I appreciated the thought immensely, cardboard tasted better than this cake.
I have avoided baked goods made with Splenda like like the bubonic plague
ever since! :barf:
BUT... it's not so bad in drinks though! Baked good? NO WAY!
02-04-2009, 07:36 PM
I'm allergic to aspartame. Whenever I have it, I get intense dizzy spells and headaches. It's getting worse each time. I had a bit of diet mt. dew cause I was so thirsty and that was all there was. Just a sip. Next morning by 9:00, I was in my bed not able to move. It was the worst in years. I used to drink diet all the time. We decided that we'd take out the cokes and see if my headaches improved. They did. :) We also think it's a genetic sensitivity since some of my family blame my grandmothers brain tumor on her diet coke habit.
02-06-2009, 01:07 PM
Personally, I hate the taste of artificial sweeteners. I've said before about Splenda "Tastes like crap cause it's made from crap."
What I've heard, as someone mentioned, is that when your body craves sweet and gets sweet it expects calories, and when it doesn't it craves more sweet. When my body craves sugar I give it sugar (or not, but I don't give it fake sugar).
What I avoid whenever possible is high fructose corn syrup. If you've ever seen those Juicy Juice commercials, where they very graphically illustrate what exactly HFCS is, syrup that is pure sugar. Now when I drink soda I get a bad aftertaste and I crave water. I believe it's been loosely linked to obesity, but I can't quote anything on that.
Basically, I'd rather consume small amounts of real sugar than any amount of fake sugar or chemically derived processed sugar products ("processed cheese product" anyone?).
You may have heard that aspartame causes cancer in rats, but they give the rats huge quantities of the stuff in relation to their body weight. It would be something like you eating your body weight in aspartame, which you could probably do in your lifetime if you drink nothing but diet drinks.
Also, there's been no long term research on Splenda. I don't care to find out. This isn't about losing weight for me. I stopped consuming HFCS a long time ago, in a simple attempt to just eat healthier, more natural products. I actually lost some weight without even trying when I started that.
03-27-2009, 02:13 PM
I use Splenda for cooking as it keeps its sweetness, but I do not use a lot. It does overpower things. I would rather have something a little bland, or sour than overly sweet. That being said, I love aspertame. I try to only have 4 packs a day, all in my coffees. (2, one in am, one decaf at night and LARGE cups)
Thighs Be Gone
03-27-2009, 03:01 PM
I don't like baking with Splenda either. The only thing I really bake anymore are muffins. I either use a small amount of applesauce for sweetner or just leave sugar out all together. It really is a matter of what you get accustomed to.
03-27-2009, 06:49 PM
Personally, I'm allergic to aspartame. Like others mentioned, I get very dizzy and can't think very clearly if I consume too much (I'm usually okay if it's just one yogurt or something), and I even went to the emergency room one time when it happened because I hadn't figured out the cause. I couldn't focus on reading, watching TV, my balance was very off, etc. They couldn't find out what was wrong with me and said it was probably some sort of strange virus, but I later realized it was because that particular week I had started drinking more Crystal Light because I had gotten tired of plain water.
So, on that note, I eat and drink things that contain splenda, and will fudge on aspartame if it's only a little bit (like in a piece of gum), but anymore than that and I am very very wary of it just because of my personal reaction to it.
03-29-2009, 10:21 PM
I have "simple partial seizures" which are simply deja-vu type of experiences 3-4 times a year ... I know it's happening, but no one else can tell. After I got pregant, I started having them once a month. I read something about seizures and aspartame, stopped consuming it, and it's now been over 20 months and I haven't had another one.
Also, aspartame blocks serotonin which is the chemical in your brain that helps to decrease your appetite. Some studies have shown that rats which were fed aspartame (not sure about the concentrations, so this may/may not apply to anyone who uses it in moderation) ate more food and gained more weight.
The Chairman of the Board at Searl (the company that makes aspartame) at the time it was pushed through the FDA was Donald Rumsfeld. http://www.rense.com/general33/legal.htm
03-29-2009, 11:33 PM
It's all poison, Splenda, Sweet n' Low, Nutrisweet and the other one -can't think of the name. The slowly kill brain cells and can actually cause symptoms like Alzeimers. I did an article in college (nursing school) on Cokes left in the desert (heat) during the Gulf War and the results of our military drinking them. There were many documentated brain damaging cases. Jillian Michaels also is a big advocate against sweetners - especially Splenda and said since she no longer consumes it, its like her brain woke up! LOL