Sickly Sweet

Health Alert 122

Do you get unexplained headaches, dizziness, or nausea? How about depression, fatigue, anxiety attacks, or sleep problems? If you suffer from any of these and you use diet products, you may have just found the answer to your unexplained symptoms.

Diet products contain sugar substitutes. The food industry claims they are safe but they have not had a good record. When aspartame came out it looked like the chemists in the food industry may have finally found a safe alternative to sugar. But now evidence is mounting that once again the substitute is worse than the original.

Aspartame is the sugar substitute in diet soft drinks and many low-fat products. There are 90 different symptoms reported resulting from aspartame. Some complaints are as serious as seizures, heart palpitations and blindness. In fact, aspartame accounts for over 75% of adverse reactions reported to the FDA annually.1

In this letter, I’ll tell you about the dark side of this new darling of the food processing industry. Then I’ll tell you why it’s so wrought with side effects and how to avoid them.

* A Triple Threat*

Aspartame does not exist anywhere in nature. It is a synthetic composite of 3 naturally occurring compounds. Laboratories synthesize it of aspartic acid (40%), phenylalanine (50%), and methanol (10%).

Aspartic acid is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter. Too much aspartic acid over stimulates your nerve cells to death. This happens by allowing too much calcium into the cells. Nerve cell death contributes to a number of chronic illnesses:

• Alzheimer’s disease

• Brain tumors

• Dementia

• Epilepsy

• Hormonal problems

• Hearing loss

• Memory loss

• Parkinson’s disease

Methanol is also known as wood alcohol. Methanol is highly toxic. It breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde in your body. Once your body absorbs this poison it has a very low rate of excretion. This gives it a cumulative effect. Some symptoms from methanol poisoning include:

• headaches

• dizziness

• nausea

• vertigo

• chills

• joint pain

• vision problems

H.J. Roberts, a West Palm Beach physician observed aspartame-related joint pain in 58 patients. All had prompt improvement after stopping aspartame. And, prompt recurrence of pain when they resumed eating it.2

Dr. Roberts has diagnosed 360 patients with aspartame-related problems. Nearly half of these patients suffered severe headaches. Approximately one fourth of these patients had decreased vision or blindness.3

* Unexplained Ailments? *

If you have been suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned, I suggest you avoid all diet products. Research suggests troublesome symptoms improve once you discontinue using aspartame. Avoid all food and drinks containing aspartame for 60 days.

Aspartame is not just in diet soft drinks. It appears in over 7,000 products. It is also the brand names Equal and NutraSweet, so read your labels carefully. Here is a list of popular items and their aspartame content:

Aspartame Content in Common Foods
Aspartame-Sweetened Food
Milligrams of Aspartame
12 ounces diet soda
8 ounces of instant ice tea
8 ounce yogurt
4 ounces of gelatin dessert
6 ounces of hot chocolate
1 cup of cereal
1 packet of Equal

Some other surprising sources of aspartame are multivitamins, mints, and sugar-free chewing gum.

I’ve must admit that the huge number of complaints over aspartame has surprised me. But I have always believed natural is better until proven otherwise. Like I’ve said before, the more natural your diet, the better you will feel.

To your good health,

Al Sears, MD

1. Mercola, Joseph “Aspartame: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You”

2. Robert, H.J. “Aspartame and Joint Pain”, Townsend Letter for Doctors, May 1991.

3. “Aspartame and Blindness”

4. Boyle, Marie A. Personal Nutrition, Fourth Edition, Wadsworth, Belmont, CA, 2001: 95.