The Evidence of Harmful and Mutagenic Potential of Artificial Sweeteners: what we crave we become, Or we are what we eat!
Hippocrates, the father of medicine said that our food should be our medicine.
Clearly we are not listening to him, or our bodies, in present day western culture. We are a group of lizardly lazy corpulent diabetogenic blobs. OK that’s a little harsh. We can do better though. We have to shake up our chemistry and take notice of the poisons and toxins that we perhaps unwittingly ingested, put on our skin and appreciate that we inherited our mothers’ accidentally poisoned systems, because THE ENVIRONMENT WE LIVE IN including EMF’s (google that if you have time), PCB’s, artificial colourings and yes–Because we have a sugar addiction (yes, I hear you! it is not our fault! we have believed the mistaken food pyramid based on, you guessed it SUGAR! Carbs = bread, pasta, wheat, grains = SUGAR). So of course we are victims of agribusiness and false Ancel Keys cherry picked data that led to the conclusion of carbs are good, fat is bad- when the reverse is likely to be true!
There is an epidemic of obesity in the so-called “first world countries” including the United States, Canada, Australia and to a lesser extent the European communities. Peoples that migrate from normal BMI (Body Mass Index) — that is NOT fat or obese–countries to these lands also end up joining the team of the obese, therefore this is not a genetic problem. This is directly proportional to the increased efficiency producing food and quick take-away convenience packaged food and appliances to make our lives easier. We consume more calories and crave more sugar as a culture in the western world than in any other society. In an effort to combat our excessive caloric consumption many people turn to artificial sweeteners especially for their beverages.
Are artificial sweeteners safe to consume? This review will outline the history and potential toxicity of the four main artificial sweeteners: cyclamate, saccharin, aspartame and sucralose.
Studies performed in different countries have conflicting information. This is confusing. Who to believe? Personally I think that if a RAT in USA gets cancer eating a particular form of artificial sweetener, than I will believe that rat is not too different from a rat or a mammal in ANY OTHER PART OF THE WORLD. That is, if it is found to be carcinogenic in one country, it makes no sense to say that it will NOT be carcinogenic in another country! Hello? Food regulation authorities please explain this to the world being presently poisoned: Why is Saccharine, one of the oldest sugar substitutes, banned in Canada, but OK in the USA?. Cyclamates are forbidden in the US but sold in Canada, do you think this has something to do with the almighty dollar and less to do with safety and health? Yes, I think I smell a rat…..
Saccharine was invented in 1879 when a chemist named Constantin Fahlberg spilled something on his hands at a lab at Johns Hopkins University. (21) He tasted the substance and found it to be very sweet, in fact it is 300-500 times sweeter to the taste buts so only 1/300th of the amount is required to be added to food to achieve the sweeter taste!. Since 1907 it was available as a table sweetener and was investigated for 70 years. Saccharin has been shown to cause kidney lesions, eye deformities, metabolic interference and bladder cancer in animals. Up to 30% of the chicks hatched from saccharin-injected eggs died within 48 hours of hatching. In February 1972 the FDA removed saccharin from its GRAS list (generally recognized as safe), but didn’t prohibit its use. A year later that same agency announced that saccharin had caused bladder cancer in rats fed it for two years.2The American FDA found some carcinogenicity in rat studies, but this only led to a warning lable on the “SweetNLow” products
Marketed as Equal and NutriSweet, was discovered in much the same way, in 1965, Jim Schlatter, a chemist at G.D. Searle, was working on ulcer treatment using a drug called aspartyl-phenylalanine methyl ester (hence the name ASPARTAME) and noted the taste on his fingers was also sweet.
The FDA did not approve the substance until 1981, as there was conflicting evidence about its safety, including the fact that a component of aspartame converts to formaldehyde at temperatures of 90 degrees F, or 32.22degrees Celcius, which is below body temperature!
Literally years of legal and political maneuvering took place questioning the validity of the testing on aspartame by manufacturer, G. D. Searle Company (purchased in 1985 by Monsanto). Numerous neurotoxic effects were found and according to many authorities, covered up. Aspartame is used in over 1200 foods. It is reportedly responsible for 75% of the food additive reaction complaints by consumers to the FDA.
Nutra-Sweet is composed of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, plus being 10% methanol (commonly known as “wood alcohol”). Methanol breaks down into the well-known carcinogen, formaldehyde, formic acid and a brain tumor producing substance called diketopiperzine (DPK). The consumption of wood alcohol has been known to cause blindness or even death. Because the body lacks an enzyme necessary to detoxify methanol, its elimination rate is five times slower than ethanol, as found in whiskey, beer and wine.
A 12 ounce aspartame-sweetened soft drink has about 10 mg of methanol. People consuming lots of soft drinks or other aspartame-sweetened products could easily consume over 100 mg per day — 13 times the EPA recommended limit!
Though I recommend avoidance of aspartame by anyone at anytime, there is one time in particular you should absolutely avoid it — when flying on an airplane. Methanol can lead to oxygen deprivation, which is definitely not a good thing at high altitudes where it can lead to memory problems, dizziness and even epileptic seizures. Don’t drink that fizzy stuff on the plane at all. Water and herbal tea and walking up and down the aisles will save your veins from DVT.
There is also a particular problem with Phenylalanine in some people. The 1 in 15,000 people with the genetic disease, phenylketonuria (PKU) can experience seizures and mental retardation from consuming foods with this amino acid. Diagnosed PKU sufferers, of course, are careful to avoid phenylalanine. The problem is that about 2% of the U. S. population has one of the two genes necessary for PKU — they don’t develop the disease, but they can still be sensitive to phenylalanine.
Dr. Richard Wurtman, Professor of Neuroendocrinology at MIT, has challenged the FDA’s approval of aspartame on safety grounds. He notes that an adult drinking four to five aspartame-sweetened soft drinks a day is getting enough phenylalanine into the brain to disrupt neurotransmitter function, which can produce depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, headaches, high blood pressure, increased appetite and possibly seizures.
Both the phenylalanine and aspartic acid in aspartame are at very high levels as compared to their presence in the foods we eat. That, and the fact that they are released much quicker than from foods, creates further disturbance in the brain chemistry.
Brain tumor incidence– A 1996 study suggested such a causal relationship. In 1991 the National Institutes of Health listed 167 possible side-effect symptoms of aspartame. H. J. Roberts, M.D., in a study of 500 cases of aspartame-caused illness, found the most common complaints (in descending order) were headaches (45%), dizziness (39%), memory loss and confusion (29%), decreased vision (25%), severe depression (25%), extreme irritability (23%), severe anxiety attacks (19%) and more.
Sucralose– nice name, shame about the taste and the chemical reaction in the gut! (Sucralose =chlorine compound!) was discovered in London by a graduate student named Shashikant Phadnis, who confused the words “tasting” and “testing.” In 1976, Phadnis was working for the British sugar company Tate & Lyle, at King’s College. He tasted a compound, noted its exceptional sweetness, and in 1991 it was marketed in Canada and in 1998 it was approved in America. It is 600 times sweeter than sugar so incipients are added to bring the volume up to something similar to sugar. It is marketed as Splenda.
Sucralose is manufactured by chlorinating sugar. What that means is that sucralose is a chlorocarbon — like a pesticide. Some of the health hazards of chlorocarbons include organ, genetic and reproductive damage. Chlorine has many ill-health side-effects associated with it, including increased cancer and heart disease risk. This unnatural adding of chlorine molecules to sugar presumably could produce the same health problems.
There is a surprisingly small number of scientific studies on sucralose as compared to other artificial sweeteners. A Medline search reportedly found 2374 studies on saccharin, 598 on aspartame, 459 on cyclamates and just 19 studies on sucralose, though the manufacturer claims there are hundreds of studies.3 According to the Medical Letter of Drugs & Therapeutics, the long-term safety of sucralose is unknown.4
Though the manufacturer indicates sucralose is not absorbed or metabolized into the body, the FDA’s “Final Rule” report indicated 11% to 27% absorption in humans. The Japanese food Sanitation Council found up to a 40% absorption rate. This cannot be good with such an unnatural product.
These substances were banned in the US but is still available in other countries, such as Canada, marketed as Sucaryl.
The discovery dates back to 1937, when Michael Sveda, a graduate student at the University of Illinois, was working on synthesis of anti-pyretic (anti-fever) drugs. He put his cigarette down on the lab bench. When he put it back in his mouth, he discovered the sweet taste of cyclamate.
Cyclamates were banned in the US in 1969, when studies linked it to an increased cancer risk. British studies showed shrunken testicles and lowered the sperm count in laboratory animals. Other studies conflict and vindicate cyclamates–which is why some countries still use it.
Xylitol, maltilol and other similar long chain sugars are generally poorly absorbed by the gut but still provide a sweet taste to the tongue. They can be poisonous to dogs and other small mammals as they set up an insulin surge and send the animal into insulin shock. In small quantities, such as in chewing gum, they have been shown to satisfy some cravings short term and also aid in dental hygiene as the bacteria do not grow on them. However be careful to not leave your handbag around for little fluffy to discover the chewing gum in there, as he may just have to go to emergency vet clinic, and my aim as a naturopathvet is to keep you out of THAT visit.
Though many legitimate sweetening needs are well served by honey, Coconut meal, real maple syrup and blackstrap molasses, there are people, such as the recent surge of the millions of diabetics, that can’t handle even those natural sugars or are now following the low/no carb dieting. (LOW CARB, HIGH FAT= LCHF–AND NUTRITIOUS VEGETABLES WORKS BEST FOR YOUR HEALTH! but please see your qualified naturopath as most people and pets need tweaking with herbal helpers such as gymnema, and trace minerals such as chromium and vanadium
Stevia — Stevia rebaudiana bertoni is a green herb plant in the Aster-Chrysanthemum family which contains a naturally sweet substance. It’s 300-400 times sweeter than sugar. No ill-effects have been noted in many studies done on this herb. In China it is actually used for various medicinal herb purposes including helping digestion, stimulating the appetite and even losing weight. Stevia can be purchased in health food stores in powdered or liquid forms. If its not green and leafy it will still have to have gone through some processing. Try growing the herb in your backyard, soaking the leaves in hot water and storing in fridge/freezer from small drops of herbal extract sweetness. It grows as well as mints, so makes a nice addition to your water/herbal drinks. Even if it has been processed, because you only require 1 drop to give you the equivalent sweetness of about 3teaspoons of sugar, which will have far less impact on your waist and cellular structures than the artificial sweeteners mentioned above.
Its important to realise that not everyone is the same, and some people may have reactions to they chrysanthemum family. Due to gut dysbiosis, vaccinosis, and various toxins sequentially added over many years to the body’s stored poisons, the process of ‘detoxing” us Naturopaths love to quote- may be somewhat complex and requiring time, and careful monitoring.
A great start to your NEW YEAR is to: ditch the toxins (artificially sweetened, preserved, and additives added) avoid numbers and packaged foods, eat organic as much as possible, juice vegetables daily and CUT THE CARBS!. CHEW THE GOOD FAT! Coconut oil, animal fats that are not heated and burned, and cold pressed seed and nut oils. Eat a minimum of 10 serves of veges and highly coloured fruits (blueberries, raspberries) pineapples (which contains the protease bromelain), papaya, (pawpaw–which also helps digest proteins via its enzyme papain- known as a meat tenderizer). An excellent way to detox your body is to flush out the stored toxic fats by exercising- raise your heart rate to 220- your age BPM (beats per minute) for short bursts of 30 seconds, drink 2-3 litres of water with trace minerals added over the 12 hour period, and go on a 30 day vegetable juice fast. See the movie Fat Sick and nearly Dead this holiday period. Period. Love to all my healthy to be clients, friends and family! The world needs you. Stay HEALTHY!
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