Artificial sweeteners-Part 1-aspartame

Aspartame is a methyl ester of aspartic acid and phenylalanine, two proteins that are found naturally in the diet but usually in combination with other amino acids.  Aspartame is processed by the body like protein and being a protein does not cause blood sugar spikes. Some formaldehyde is produced in its metabolism but the same is true for many foods including fruit and vegetables.  It is low calorie and 200 times sweeter than sugar so it is claimed it may help obesity.  It does not leave a metallic aftertaste.  It is also kind to teeth.  It has been extensively tested and 40mg per kilo of body weight per day established as the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) - see 'Food Standards Agency-Aspartame'- except for people with PKU. 

All this sounds too good to be true - from the research I have carried out for this blog post, it may well be.  I was especially interested to learn that aspartame has been linked to headaches and migraine and the effect may not be immediately apparent when you first start using it.  As I understand the science of it both phenylalanine and tryptophan can cross the blood brain barrier.  If therefore you injest a great deal of phenylalanine it may reduce the amount of tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan is needed to make serontin so that aspartame may cause a lowering of serontin leading to migraine and depression.  BUT as surely as there are studies that suggest this, there are studies that indicate that there is no effect so I think it is a case of see if you are affected.  You will know if you are a follower of this blog that I always recommend stevia in my recipes and green stevia is the most natural form of this.  It is also interesting to note than some large companies have bowed to consumer pressure to remove aspartame from their products.  

Other reported side effects of aspartame include vision disturbances, palpitations, breathing problems, dizziness and memory loss.

Taking all this into consideration, I believe that aspartame is best avoided.

Stay well

Janet x

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