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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Did you know: Artificial Sweeteners

Did you know that NutriSweet and Equal are brand names for Aspartame? Aspartame is an artificial sweetener, and the book Skinny B*tch, Bun in the Oven has some interesting information (and research) specifically regarding aspartame.

For starters, did you know that so many people are poisoned by aspartame each year that there are actually victim support groups out there? There are 92 aspartame side effects listed by the FDA including memory loss, nerve cell damage, migraines and reproductive disorders.

“Well”, you say, “If it is that bad for you, it never would have been approved by the FDA”.

Let's take a closer look:

-When the inventor of aspartame first brought his product before the FDA for approval, it was denied eight times. The inventor's testing methodology was considered shady, and the results were manipulated.

-In 1977, the FDA asked the US Attorney’s office to start grand jury proceedings against the inventor for "knowingly misrepresenting findings and concealing material facts and making false statements in aspartame safety tests." Later the trial was delayed, causing the statute of limitations on the charges to run out and the investigation was dropped. The reason the trial was delayed? The inventor of aspartame, G.D. Searle, offered the prosecuting attorney a position in the law firm that was representing him during the same trial.

-In 1980, the FDA approval board said that it had not been presented with proof of reasonable certainty that aspartame is safe for use as a food additive. Then, in 1981, a new FDA commissioner was appointed, and he went against the advice of half of the advising scientists on the scientific review panel and allowed aspartame into dry goods. In 1983, it was approved for beverages, against the request of the National Soft Drink Association. After being investigated for accepting gratuities from FDA regulated companies, the commish resigned. The very same FDA commissioner that approved aspartame (against the advice of the advising scientists and review panels) now works for G.D. Searle.

-Congress finally began prosecuting Searle for giving the government false information and incomplete test results and two government attorneys were assigned. Both decided not to prosecute and now work for the law firm that represents G.D. Searle. This story kind of sounds like a John Grisham novel at this point don’t you think?

-In 1996 (not all that long ago), aspartame was approved for use, free of any restrictions whatsoever. Later, a study funded by the company that owns NutraSweet (a brand name of aspartame) was conducted to see if there were possible birth defects associated with consuming aspartame. After preliminary data revealed damaging information, the study was aborted.

-By 2008, aspartame has become a billion dollar industry. Once aspartame enters the body, it turns into formaldehyde (in cigarettes, health officials report that formaldehyde is toxic and carcinogenic and also used as embalming fluid to preserve a dead person for their funeral). Most parents don't offer their kids about a diet Snapple?

-Studies have shown that it can cause breaks in DNA in the sperm and eggs, leading to increased risks of cancer and developmental issues in offspring. A note on aspartame from one of the world's leading experts (neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock): Pregnant women should never consume foods containing aspartame...The aspartic acid, phynylalanine, and methanol are all known to produce abnormal development of a baby's brain.

To be fair, and present both sides of the story, the American Dietetic Association’s official response to aspartame is that it is not harmful. And it may very well have it's place. It allows diabetic folks to enjoy a sweet or two. But the folks who drink three, four or 10 cans of Diet Coke a day may want to rethink that habit.

If the preceding information has moved you away from aspartame and it's brand names, great. It's a Healthy Choice! But please don't let it drive you into Splenda's arms. Splenda is not okay either. If you are up on current events, you know how trans fats are so bad for you, they are actually banned in public establishments in several major metropolitan areas including New York City and in Boston. Well, trans fats are hydrogenated oils, or oils that are chemically altered to hold another hydrogen atom and make them solid. Simply put, trans fats are much worse for your cardiovascular health then saturated fats (which any good cardiologist will limit). Splenda is very similar to hydrogenated oils in that it is chemically altered, but in a way that your human body cannot metabolize (therefore, no calories!).

Want to know more? There were two studies that were done on Splenda before it was deemed safe by the FDA. Yes, you read that correctly.

TWO studies.

Both studies combined had 36 people and of those 36, only 23 were given the Splenda...over four days.

That's right.

23 people were studied for four days. It's up to you if you choose to ingest it. But you might want to not be pregnant or breast feeding because we aren’t entirely sure of the results on pregnant or lactating mice.

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