Medically reviewed by Shanmukha Priya, M.Phil and Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition
You would be surprised to know that aspartame (APM) is one of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners in the world.
It was first used in chewing gums, colas, and selected food products before being widely included in other products such as iced tea, sugar-free products, fruit spreads among many.
Table of Contents:
- How does aspartame harm us?
- What health problems and cause?
- Neurological effects
- Weight gain
- What are the sweetener alternatives to aspartame?
Little did you know, aspartame in the diet could be harming you one small spoonful at a time.
Don’t know what substitute to use in your favorite tea/ coffee. You can ask a Nutrition Coach for FREE. It’s just a click away!
How does aspartame harm us?
The following is a simplistic explanation of how aspartame damages us. Aspartame consists of aspartic acid, phenylalanine (common amino acid) and methanol.
Phenylalanine plays a role in regulating the levels of neurotransmitters or the chemicals that our brain cells use to communicate with each other. Aspartic acid is a known excitatory neurotransmitter itself.
Changes in the levels of these ‘brain messengers’ could result in neuro-behavioral changes. Some researchers have noted an increase in the phenylalanine and aspartic acid levels followed by increased intake of aspartame.
The result: reduced secretion of 2 neurotransmitters namely the feel-good serotonin and the reward-influencing dopamine production .
In a nutshell, excess consumption or relaince on aspartame will blunt the feel good hormones and the ones responsible for that rewarding feeling after any activity.
Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener used in many diet soft drinks and food preparations.
It is a white, odorless powder known to cause numerous health problems. Watch the video given below that will show the truth behind artificial sweeteners.
What health problems could excessive aspartame cause?
We’re glad you asked. Consuming aspartame is like a gateway to a future of high medical bills.
Take a look at all the medical problems a simple flavor and tasty addition to your cup of coffee or tea could cause.
Although, the neurological effects of aspartame were explained, what does it really imply in our day-to-day life?
Researchers set out to understand the effect of a high aspartame diet (close to 25mg/kg body weight/day) on memory, cognition, spatial orientation (body posture and gait), depression, mood, and headache.
The participants on the high sweetener diet showed irritable mood, depression and had fared poorly in spatial orientation tests .
So you consume an artificial sweetener like aspartame to resist calories from sugar? However, relying on artificial sweeteners seem to result in just the opposite.
Studies conducted among undergraduate students consuming artificial sweeteners showed that when given a choice of snacks, they were 2.93 times more likely to choose the high-calorie ones.
Also, the study group was hard to please, with a majority of them not being satisfied with even an ounce of chocolate cookies .
So what does this tell you? Artificial sweeteners seem to modify physiological processes to influence eating!
We are supremely sorry to burst this great bubble since artificial sweeteners could be a boon for people with diabetes.
You know what is coming up and it is not good news! Sweeteners like aspartame seemed to increase blood glucose levels in a roundabout mechanism which is difficult to conceive.
They affect the helpful microscopic residents in our gut. Research finds that the bacterial composition of people consuming sweeteners was totally different than the ones who don’t.
This change could increase obesity-related metabolic conditions .
Aspartame has been linked with reactions such as headaches/migraines, muscle spasms, depression, insomnia, hearing loss, heart palpitations, tinnitus, early periods  and others.
What are the sweetener alternatives to aspartame?
Sugar is an essential part of our diet and it is impossible to avoid it. Instead of opting for aspartame, however, you can choose to use organic honey, stevia or xylitol, a natural sweetener made from birch wood.
Recommended read: Why it is wise to diet coke!
- Lindseth GN, Coolahan SE, Petros TV, et al. Neurobehavioral effects of
aspartame consumption. Res Nurs Health. 2014;37(3):185-93.
- Hill SE, Prokosch ML, Morin A, et al. The effect of non-caloric
sweeteners on cognition, choice, and post-consumption satisfaction. Appetite.
- Feehley T, Nagler CR. The weighty costs of non-caloric sweeteners. Nature. 2014; 514(7521):176-177.
- Mueller NT, Jacobs DR Jr, MacLehose RF, et al. Consumption of caffeinated and artificially sweetened soft drinks is associated with risk of early menarche. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(3):648-54.