aspartame...

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by finman, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. finman

    finman Senior Member

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    Hey, for all the doctors in the house...(efusco?) what up with the diet sweetener aspartame? I've read some scary accounts of people reacting badly to it, then getting off it and feeling much better (dizziness, headaches, general nausea, etc.). Then the very next web pages say it's been approved for all use, no problems, safe, etc. I also note that many of the positive studies were funded by chemical companies (Monsanto being one). Should I be suspicious here?
    Trying to get chemicals out of my body, consume less sugars, less processed food and generally eat better. Need some Prius-like advice...thanks!
     
  2. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    LOL! I don't know. I avoid it, but that's easy b/c I hate the taste. My wife got HAs for a while, but continues to drink it...though she did avoid it while pregnant.

    I think it is, like most things in this world, probably OK in moderation...2-3 drinks per day. Maybe OK at higher 'doses'. Probably not a good idea in very high amounts. Also, there is probably individual variance in suseptibility to the various side effects...just like other poisonous chemicals we put in our body (you might call them medicines...but poisonous chemicals in limited amounts are what they are).

    If you can, then why not eliminate it. If you can't (i.e. Diet Coke addict), then try to restrict the amount and otherwise live a healthy lifestyle.
     
  3. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    More selected comments from the "Poisondex"--a frequently used poison information database:

    D. CAUTIONS: Homozygous phenylketonuric patients should not take aspartame, since phenylalanine is a degradation product. Headaches have been reported following aspartame ingestion, however, a definite cause-effect relationship has not been established. Three cases of seizures have been reported following the ingestion of large amounts of aspartame.

    1. Ingestion of aspartame 50 milligrams/kilogram/day has no toxic effects and has been established by the FDA as the acceptable daily intake. This amount is equivalent to a daily consumption of approximately 17 twelve-ounce cans of 100% aspartame sweetened soft drink by a 70 kilogram person (Anon, 1987).

    1. Aspartame has not been widely studied in children. Plasma phenylalanine concentrations were compared in 24 one-year-old infants who were administered 34, 50 and 100 milligrams/kilogram of aspartame in a cherry-flavored beverage mix. The infants were found to metabolize the amino acids of aspartame as well as adults do. These data indicated that aspartame can be safely administered as a sugar substitute to children 1 year of age or older (Filer et al, 1983).

    3. In individuals who consume 500 mg of aspartame per day, this would correspond to 280 mg phenylalanine, 226 mg of aspartic acid, and 54 mg methanol. These amounts of phenylalanine and aspartic acid are less than the quantities provided in 6 ounces of milk or 3 ounces of beef (Harper, 1975). Eight ounces of fruit or vegetable juice provide about the same amount of methyl esters.
    (note:1. Ingestion of aspartame 50 milligrams/kilogram/day has no toxic effects and has been established by the FDA as the acceptable daily intake. This amount is equivalent to a daily consumption of approximately 17 twelve-ounce cans of 100% aspartame sweetened soft drink by a 70 kilogram person (Anon, 1987))

    1. Central nervous system adverse effects include potential neurotoxicity, "aspartame disease," behavioral effects, headaches, seizures, Parkinsonian effects, and psychological effects such as panic attacks.

    1. SUMMARY:
    a. An "aspartame disease" identification has been discussed mainly via use of the Internet. No published reports of this syndrome have been published in peer-review medical journals (Lit Search, 1999).
    2. LITERATURE REPORTS:
    a. Anecdotal and unsubstantiated reports have circulated, primarily via the Internet, implicating aspartame in the development of a cluster of symptoms collectively referred to as "aspartame disease." It has been asserted that this disease mimics MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS and is caused by METHANOL TOXICITY resulting from the breakdown of aspartame (Anon, 1999; Roberts, 1999). No published reports of this syndrome have appeared in the peer-reviewed medical literature (Lit Search, 1999). Methanol toxicity is unlikely to result from aspartame ingestion as the methanol produced is approximately 10% of the ingested dose (Filer & Stegink, 1989; Harper, 1975). Methanol toxicity results from formate accumulation and, at abuse doses of aspartame (100 to 200 milligrams/kilogram (milligrams/kilograms (mg/kg), blood formate concentrations were not significantly increased. Urinary excretion of formate was significantly increased, indicating conversion of methanol to formate, but synthesized formate was apparently adequately excreted to avert accumulation (Filer & Stegink, 1989). The estimated daily aspartame dose necessary to replace dietary sucrose/saccharin is 34 mg/kg, which yields aspartic acid 14 mg/kg, phenylalanine 17 mg/kg and methanol 3.3 mg/kg (Sturtevant, 1985).

    2. LITERATURE REPORTS: A randomized, double-blind, 3-way crossover trial in healthy young adults (n=48, mean age 23 years) demonstrated no acute or chronic neuropsychologic, neurophysiologic or behavioral effects with aspartame (15 or 45 milligrams/kilogram/day for 20 days) as compared to sucrose or placebo. Assessments of blood glucose, insulin, amino acid, routine hematology, fasting blood chemistry, urinalysis, electroencephalography, and cognitive measures of mood, memory and behavior revealed no abnormalities or between- group differences, with the exception of transiently increased concentrations of phenylalanine and its ratio with other amino acids following aspartame ingestion. Reported adverse effects did not differ significantly in number or type between the aspartame, sucrose and placebo groups. The authors concluded that aspartame is safe for the general population (Spiers et al, 1998).

    HEADACHE
    a. In a controlled study involving 40 subjects the incidence of headache following aspartame ingestion was similar to that observed following placebo. All subjects had previously reported headaches following ingestion of aspartame-containing products. The incidence of headaches following 30 milligrams/kilograms (mg/kg) of aspartame was 35%, as opposed to 45% with placebo (Schiffman et al, 1987).
    b. Aspartame may be a headache precipitant in a small percentage of people. In a retrospective questionnaire-based study, 50% of 171 patients attending a headache unit reported alcohol as a triggering factor for headache; aspartame and carbohydrates were implicated as precipitating factors by 8.2% and 2.3% of patients, respectively. In patients with migraine headache, aspartame was reported as a precipitant of headache 3 times more often than in patients with other types of headache (Lipton et al, 1989).
    c. Ingestion of aspartame capsules 300 milligrams (mg) four times a day was reported to increase the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches in a double-blind study involving 11 migraine patients (Koehler & Glaros, 1988). More studies are required investigating the association between aspartame and migraine headache exacerbation.
    d. Consumption of aspartame in dietary soft drinks was associated with occurrence of MIGRAINE HEADACHES in a 31-year-old woman. Rechallenge with 500 milligrams (mg) of pure aspartame (in solution) resulted in recurrence of the migraine headaches (Johns, 1986).
    e. Three female patients, age 26 to 40 years, self-reported migraine headache exacerbation with aspartame containing chewing gum (Blumenthal & Vance, 1997).


    Summary:
    2. SUMMARY: Aspartame has been extensively investigated and has not been associated with any potential toxicity in dietary doses or abuse doses. The safety of aspartame has been demonstrated in healthy adults, lactating women, children, adolescents, and diabetics. Moreover, pregnant women are not restricted from dietary aspartame. However, safety has not been established in children under 2 years of age, and individuals with phenylketonuria must consider the phenylalanine content of aspartame (Horwitz & Bauer-Nehrling, 1983; London, 1988).
    3. ADULT:
    a. The effects of aspartame over a 90-day period were evaluated in 43 men and women age 21 to 70 with noninsulin-dependent diabetes. These patients ingested 1.8 grams of aspartame each day which is considerably higher than the estimated average ingestion of aspartame (0.5 g). There was no evidence of deterioration of diabetic control or increases in plasma phenylalanine levels above 4 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) (Stern et al, 1976).
    b. The effect of aspartame on BLOOD GLUCOSE control was evaluated in 62 insulin-dependent or noninsulin-dependent diabetics. In a randomized, double-blind trial, 27 patients received 2.7 g/day of aspartame and 33 patients received placebo for 18 weeks. No differences in fasting or 2 hour postprandial blood glucose levels or glycohemoglobin levels were seen between groups at any time during the study period. Additionally, the frequency of reported adverse effects with aspartame or placebo was similar (Nehrling et al, 1985).


    Seems pretty darn safe all in all. Certainly, like with so many things, a very long term controlled blinded cross-over study would be nice, but extraordinarily difficult to accomplish.
     
  4. heliotropehead

    heliotropehead New Member

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    I try to avoid it because not only does it taste like crap, but also because it gives me headaches. Recently I've cut way down on soft drinks and consume mostly water now. I've never felt better!
     
  5. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    Sometimes anecdotes are all we have for evidence. I wanted to like Nutrasweet but the hazy headache and weird aura it gave me were consistent and unmistakable. These ocurred before I ever heard of them in other users. I use Sucralose instead.
     
  6. xevious

    xevious New Member

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    Thanks for publishing the (non-pseudo) scientific information, Evan. The "aspartame Internet conspiracy" has been widely accepted in some circles, despite a complete lack of evidence to support it. Thankfully, we have a few voices of reason. :)

    Headaches following aspartame injestion are far more likely to be caused by the caffeine content of aspartame-sweetened beverages than by the apartame itself. That's not to say that a few otherwise normal folks may experience an atypical reaction...

    Oh, and by the way, sucralose (Splenda brand sweetener) is not a pesticide derivative...
     
  7. naterprius

    naterprius Senior Member

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    Sucralose is another scary one. Chlorinate just about any molecule (Table salt is the exception) and you are just asking for trouble. Carcinogenic effects, aging, basically the opposite of anti-oxidants.

    One really scary thing about aspartame is that when heated above 86 degrees Farenheit it breaks down into Methanol, which then breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde when kept warm (like on top of the fridge). This is why Diet Coke has an expiration date.

    Methanol is acutely toxic in humans unless consumed with equal or larger amounts of Ethanol which has its own social problems ;-).

    Basically, try some water. You should drink it straight from the tap so you can get some minerals in your diet.

    Notice that all artificial sweeteners are being switched out to Sucralose (Splenda). The goal of the companies is to switch out sweeteners before a correlation can be established. These sweeteners aren't new; Sucralose is 20 years old! Why bring it out now and risk damaging the diet coke market?

    Here is a direct quote from Coca-Cola's 10K (their public disclosure financial statement).

    "Our Company sells a number of products sweetened with sucralose, a noncaloric sweetener, and we plan onoffering our customers a larger number of new products with sucralose in 2005."

    I speculate that it is fear of litigation from the damage caused by aspartame. (Yet unproven and unknown).

    Oh, by the way, High Fructose Corn Syrup is nasty stuff as well. Did you know that Mexican Coke is all Cane Sugar? Strange, since Cane Sugar is more expensive, and Mexicans have less money, so you would think it would be the other way around.

    Anyway, I digress.

    What to do about the Aspartame? Sucralose? High Fructose Corn Syrup? Give it up, I say. After cutting soda from my diet (and other caffeine) four years ago, I've dropped over 50 pounds, and no longer feel dehydrated. Life is better!

    Nate
     
  8. finman

    finman Senior Member

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    Thanks one and all for the very informative posts and studies and personal anecdotes. Keep em' coming. I, too have quit the diet soda game, lost 10 pounds ,feel great, no regrets. I think the 'all things in moderation' mentality can go a long way to making a better world. And I can say, it really started with the Prius. Seriously, it's been THAT good of an influence. Hmmm...does that make Prius a medical wonder drug...
     
  9. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    Methanol is a non-issue with aspartame.

    C) METHANOL - 500 mg of aspartame will produce 55 mg of methanol. For a patient to receive even 1000 mg of methanol, over 9,200 mg of aspartame must be ingested.

    7) METHANOL CONTENT: A liter of sweetened beverage contains 56 milligrams of methanol (1/3 the amount of methanol present in a normal fruit juice of this size).
     
  10. naterprius

    naterprius Senior Member

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    The toxic effects of methanol in the juice are mitigated by small amounts of ethanol that are also present in the fruit juice. There is no ethanol present in aspartame.

    (Secretly: I'm arguing biology with a Doctor. I'm going to lose).
    ;-)

    Nate
     
  11. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    LOL!! Nate, not everyone's OJ has 3 shots of Vodka in it!
     
  12. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    And actually you're arguing pharmacology and toxicology with a doctor...you're going down in a big way! ;-)
     
  13. naterprius

    naterprius Senior Member

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  14. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    My friend, that is the wisest thing you could have done. We consume *way* too much processed sugar and other s*** in our diets. There is something about our "typical" North American diet when you consider our twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity.

    For some reason, I've never liked sweet stuff. Don't know why, but I just refuse anything with sugar in it, has always made me queasy. Which in hindsight may have a lot to do with my remarkably good health now.

    My Mom, a nice gal who I dearly love, used to have a *real* sweet tooth that started around 17 years ago. I think this was Separation Anxiety when I declared I didn't want anything to do with the family business and moved 1,800 miles away.

    She would plug down Bismarcks like they were about to be on the Federal Endangered Species List. So naturally she gained over 80 lbs. Surprise surprise, around 10 years ago her health problems really began in earnest and she was finally diagnosed as a Type II diabetic.

    Faced with Diabetic Retinopathy - active bleeds too - and other perils we tossed out every trace of sugar in the house. Trust me on this once you toss the sugar you'll never go back to it.

    As far as drinking water, my folks got a WaterWise 7000 distiller a few years ago and swear by it. I picked up one more recently. We were more concerned about chemicals like chlorine and fluoride in the water, which a distiller removes.

    And if you're a guy, it seems to really help your bladder if you pass a lot of clean water through it. Also an occasional glass of cranberry juice, which I should perhaps drink more often then once a week. It's horrid stuff, but really good for the male bladder.

    Evan, comments? I mean WRT sugar and water and male health.
     
  15. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Evan:

    Don't knock it till you try it. :crazyeyes:

    I'm kidding! Really I am!
     
  16. SyZyGy

    SyZyGy New Member

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    LOL. Anyone here try Everclear? That was the first shot of anything I've ever took. :crazyeyes: DAAAAM. That stuff burns like no other. I had no taste in my mouth for the rest of the day. I'm not a young alcoholic or anything, I just asked my dad if I could try a shot of it. I regret not reading the proof on the bottle.
     
  17. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    I should have mentioned that my aspartame exposures were usually with non-caffeinated Diet Coke. I use (and withdraw from) caffeine regularly, with and without other artificial sweeteners, and the sensations associated with all of that are distinctly different from those I had with aspartame.
     
  18. heliotropehead

    heliotropehead New Member

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    Everclear? Yes Indeedy! During my early college years I had many a cherry bomb (1 jar of maraschino cherries, dump juice & replace with everclear). The person to finish the last cherry got to finish off the everclear in the jar. This sometimes resulted in a quasi blackout of sorts, and so in retrospect it wasn't a really good thing to be participating in.

    SyZyGy-
    Are you really 15?? Why would your dad allow you to have a shot of anything at your age?! That's just insane!
     
  19. galaxee

    galaxee mostly benevolent

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    ooh, a pharmacology/toxicology discussion! my first discussion of this type outside academia! it appears i joined all too late though.... damn it, i am going to use this phd in pharmacology for something someday.... someday i will graduate...

    just my 2 cents: using anything in excess is pretty much going to give you a bad time. i have a caffeine issue at the moment as a result of schoolwork. i get awful headaches if i don't get my daily fix...

    it's always a good idea to try to cut back on artificial things and i probably should be following suit.

    if aspartame metabolized to ethanol we would all be perpetually buzzed. there is no way to escape the stuff it seems... it's in practically everything.

    and one last thought... everclear and i are no longer friends. enough said!

    :wink:

    in short, i concur with the doctor since i haven't earned my degree yet... haha
     
  20. Sufferin' Prius Envy

    Sufferin' Prius Envy Platinum Member

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    Even if Doc Evan went as far as to say that aspartame is good for you, no way would I purposely eat the stuff.

    It tastes like nice person!

    The aftertaste is enough for me to realize my body is trying to warn me to stay away from that plastic sugar crap. :pukeright: