Hi there, my name is Noelle and I’m a recovering aspartame addict.
You see, for years I was foolishly hooked on the chemically created sweetener hidden amongst all my beloved “diet foods”. Foods like cereals, sodas, yogurts and even my favorite sugar-free chewing gum! At the time, these products seemed like the perfect alternative to their “regular” counterparts (which were packed with an obscene amount of refined sugar and were super high in calories.) I mean, I could drink a few diet sodas each day or pop a few pieces of sugar-free gum and not have anything to worry about, or so I thought…
What eventually happened was, I started to slowly stumble across research regarding aspartame. Research that started to make me feel anxious and a bit worried. I read article upon article linking aspartame to brain fog, joint pain, nausea, stomachaches, headaches and migraines…all things I was coincidently suffering from.
Now, before I go any further, I first think it’s important to reveal exactly how aspartame came to be (which I found quite shocking!) Aspartame was inadvertently invented in 1965 by a chemist who at the time was working on an ulcer drug when he accidentally spilled some of the product on his fingers. During his experiment he went to pick up a piece of paper while licking his fingers, which prompted him to notice an unusually sweet taste. Upon testing, the taste was proven to be 200 times sweeter than natural sugar. Thus, this is how the once ulcer-drug-in-the-making became the artificial sweetener we all know of today – aspartame.
Oh! Did you also know that we now have over 6000 products on the market containing aspartame? Wild right? What’s crazier is that the FDA initially refused to approve the substance in 1975 due to the potential brain and nerve cell damage studies had shown it to cause. In 1980 the PBOI (Public Board of Inquiry) for the FDA concluded that, even though there was not enough conclusive evidence of aspartame causing brain cancer and other neurological conditions, the unanswered questions concerning the brain tumors in laboratory rats was enough to have aspartame refused once more. It took 3 years before the FDA finally approved aspartame to be used in dry foods, followed by an approval for use in carbonated drinks, and finally in 1996 all restrictions were removed completely, allowing this chemical substance to be added to everything we consume!
As technology and time advances, the dangers concerning the consumption of this toxic sweetener become much clearer. The FDA has documented over 10,000 official complaints filed against aspartame. And more than 75 percent of all adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA are attributed to aspartame. Now I know I mentioned a few of the side effects I experienced firsthand from eating products with aspartame, but it doesn’t stop there. In fact, I’ve gathered over 90 or so other documented adverse reactions of this artificial sweetener.
Now, if you’ve read this far you’ve probably guessed that my opinion on aspartame has changed over time. You’d be correct and in fact, my opinion has become rather concrete at this point. Through all my years of research I’ve concluded that aspartame is by far one of the most dangerous substances added to food products. I’m proud to say that today I am fully against it and I avoid it at all costs. But don’t take my word for it – I urge you to do your own research, review the hundreds of studies out there, and most importantly take a look at the facts.
As a Integrative Nutrition Coach who is also Board-Certified in Health & Wellness, I now use my own experience with aspartame to help educate my clients about the dangers of it and why we should avoid it. However, many of my clients still have that “sweet tooth” that lingers from time to time – I mean, no fault of their own - sweet pleasurable tastes are practically hard-wired into our human brains! And so with that, it should come as no surprise that in the world of health and nutrition, the spotlight always seems to be shining on sugar. Just enter any grocery store and immediately you’re surrounded by different kinds of sugars and sweeteners and bombarded with marketing for foods containing them. This is why it’s important to me that I teach my clients how to read ingredients and “decode” if a product is safe to consume or not. I encourage clients to check sources, stick with products that have the least amount of processing, and opt for organic whenever possible. Some of my favorite natural sugars are raw honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, stevia and of course the healthiest of whole ingredients…fruit!
I’m here to tell you that finding sugar alternatives and sticking with products that use natural sources of sweetness is totally possible! This is why I love and endorse brands like Mighty Gum – they harness the sweetness of stevia, a natural sweetener that has no ill effect on the human body and the nutritional density of real fruit in their gum. Also, they pack in plenty of adaptogens and botanicals that support the body’s natural ability to protect itself. This is such a huge relief, as majority of sugar-free gums on the shelves today contain aspartame and do little to nothing for the quality of our health. It’s still alarming to me that many people overlook aspartame in gum, assuming that just because they do not swallow the gum this harmful ingredient does not enter their body. However, this is untrue. The ingredient can still enter through the walls of your mouth! With that being said, don’t you think it’s important that the ingredients in your gum are things you WANT to pass through those walls? Anytime I’m itching to chew on something sweet, I stop and think about the many vitamins, minerals, and adaptogens I’m allowing into my body from chewing a piece of Mighty Gum. This means my gum is working for me not against me! What a huge change from my former aspartame days, wouldn’t you say?
Since you’ve reached the end of my article, I’m hoping I’ve helped you come to the same conclusion that I finally came to – it’s time to ditch the chemical sweetener aspartame once and for all! With all of the natural sugar sources available to us and awesome brands like Mighty Gum, now we have zero excuses!
Board-Certified Integrative Health Coach