Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Artificial Sweeteners: Too Good To Be True

Even without seeing the results of these polls, I can safely say at one point or another throughout our lives, we've all dieted and happily chugged an artificial sweetener in our coffee, iced tea, diet soda, or lemonade. Unfortunately, while we were imagining the svelte figure we were sure to obtain but cutting all the sugar and calories, our bodies were in chaos. A chaos caused by:

  1. Nutrasweet/Equal -- aspartame

  2. Sweet N' Low -- saccharin

  3. Splenda -- sucralose

Since their introduction to the market after approval by the FDA, these artificial sweeteners have wreaked havoc on bodies world-wide. Side effects as simple as headaches and severe as cancer have been reported.


Perhaps the worst of the worst is aspartame. Although I'm not certain when this news clip was made (the computers featured suggests it was probably awhile ago), it's still very much relevant today.

Millions of people consume aspartame's hard not to. Aspartame is contained in 6-7,000 items on the market today.

It was approved by the FDA in 1981, despite it causing multiple brain tumors in laboratory rats. While a variety of symptoms have been reported, most fall into the neurological and behavioral category consisting mostly of headaches, mood alterations, and hallucinations. The remaining third is mostly gastrointestinal symptoms.

According to Dr. Mercola, some side effects of aspartame include:

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • Memory and hearing loss

  • Hormonal problems

  • Epilepsy

  • Brain lesions

  • Neuroendocrine disorders

  • Vision problems

  • Headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness

  • Nausea and gastrointestinal disturbances

  • Weakness, numbness and shooting pains in your extremities

  • Behavioral disturbances

  • Memory lapses

And, of course, there's also cancer.

According to Dr. Mercola, "one well-controlled, peer-reviewed, SEVEN-year study even found that as little as 20 mg per day can cause cancer in humans. One 12-ounce diet soda contains about 180 mg of aspartame, so you do the math on that risk!"

Aspartame can be found in the following items, so be sure to read labels to check if it's aspartame-free.

  • Diet sodas, juice drinks, and flavored waters

  • Chewing gum

  • Diet and diabetic foods

  • Breakfast cereals, such as Fiber One

  • Fiber supplements, such as orange flavored Metamucil

  • Jams

  • Sweets

  • Certain vitamins (including those for childrens) as well as prescription and over the-counter drugs such as Alka Seltzer Plus, and some Tylenol medications


Although sometimes considered the best-of-the-worst in terms of safety, saccharin has been linked to bladder cancer in rats.

According to Lisa Shea of, "The FDA began researching saccharin in the 70s, to ensure it really WAS safe. A series of studies were done and saccharin was found to cause bladder cancers. Some felt it was impurities in the saccharin, and not the saccharin itself, that caused the trouble, so nothing was done. However, in 1977, Canadians proved conclusively that it WAS the saccharin itself causing the cancer.

As a result, the FDA required that any saccharin products carry a warning label about cancer.

The actual warning reads:

"Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals."

In fact, drinking just two cans of diet soda a day increases a person's risk for bladder cancer (and a myriad of other problems).

Saccharin has also been shown to be very addictive as opiates.

Furthermore, Shea says, "Pregnant mothers are especially cautioned to stay away from saccharin, because even small usage of saccharin could overwhelm the developing fetus' defenses and cause damage to the developing bladder area."


Per Dr. Mercola:

"It’s very important to realize that Splenda (sucralose) is actually NOT sugar, despite its marketing slogan “Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar”. Rather it’s a chlorinated artificial sweetener in line with aspartame and saccharin, and with detrimental health effects to match."

That's right, folks. Splenda (i.e. sucralose) is loaded with chlorine.

Various news reports have also centered around artificial sweeteners’ ability to impair your appetite regulation and leading to weight gain.

Other side effects of Splenda include:

  • Stimulate your appetite
  • Increase carbohydrate cravings
  • Stimulate fat storage and weight gain
  • Gastrointestinal problems (including decreasing beneficial bacteria in your gut by 50%)
  • Migraines
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Allergic reactions
  • Blood sugar increases
  • Weight gain

As with the other artificial sweeteners, you might be consuming sucralose without realizing you're doing so. This happened to us, in fact. I ordered some liquid zinc from a very reputable company and discovered too late it contained oodles of sucralose. So once again...READ YOUR LABELS! I can't stress how important it is to monitor what you're ingesting.

And remember, Splenda has NEVER been proven safe for human consumption!

Because the length of this entry is out of control, I will do another entry in the next few days about healthier, safe sweetener alternatives.

In the meantime, avoid this artificial junk and you might be surprised how much better you start feeling.

Stay Healthy,


Tricia said...

So what should people like myself who have diabetes do, when it comes to drinks and such? I'd rather drink the diet than drink all my calories and sugar. I'd rather EAT my sugars I'm able to then to drink them. LOL
I guess I'm at a loss and drink all these diet things since being a diabetic.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on this as usual B. I bought some "Stevia in the Raw" packets and while they are ok, I found they also contain a small amount of dextrose (to make it powdery like sugar). Still I believe Stevia is safe for diabetics, I think they'd have better luck with the liquid form, since it contains no dextrose, but the liquid tastes weird to me.

I thought maybe Truvia was better but guess what it has all kind so junk in it! sugar alcohols and some kind of "natural sweetener" Truvia DOES raise blood sugar.

Well, I will be waiting for your next blog on this!

Brittany said...

I use Splenda.
I haven't had any side effects or anything happen to me.

But i don't use it on a daily basis either.

Cindy said...

I have been on the artificial sweetener see-saw for years. It's not easy when you want to enjoy iced tea, and the Crystal Light is zero calories but full of Splenda. Get regular Lipton & you're overdosing on sugar!! What to give the kids?!? We would all be so much better off if the only drinks available were water, milk & fruit juice!! Plus, we may think we are fine consuming these sweeteners with no side effects, but we can't know if our possible FUTURE (God forbid!) cancer or neurological disorder diagnosis is being percolated NOW by using these products,right??

Lisa said...

in my quest to figure out my weight gain, sudden...and bloat of late i read that the sweet and low i use daily for two cups of coffee every morning may well be the culprit. So i anxiously await your alternatives. I have to sweeten my coffee and i NEED the coffee, even on a diet.

Chantelle said...

Great post Bridgett!

I actually have two experiences- my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago, and one of her doctors questions in his assessment was to ask her if she drank diet soda or used artificial sweeteners. She said yes, and he told her STOP, immediately.

The other is that my husband drinks diet, and he definitely suffers behavioral problems from it--on days when he drinks a good bit of soda, he actually studders and has problems with his speech sometimes. And not, on days that he doesn't.

Scary stuff!

also as a side note, for people who want soda but not all of that, I think that Diet Rite doesn't contain what most diet sodas usually contain. It's not great tasting, but better than the alternative.

clauren said...

Scary! I know my red bull is a drink of death. Thanks for this cant wait to see what is good. xoxox Cass

Tony and Julee Huy said...

Hey Bridgett,

I've been thinking about sugar a lot lately. I don't use artificial sweeteners, but for the kids I had switched to agave nectar. I had heard not so good things about and now I'm trying Stevia. I'm looking forward to your good alternatives post!

I'm going to have to blog about your blog, I always forget about it because it's not in my blogroll, I'll add it now!

Tara said...

I did not know all this! Thanks for the information.

I have had the honor of working with autistic teens and I always think of you.

BTW, LOVE this new blog!

LdyRoxx said...

Great post. Everytime I've used aspartame it get the "brain lulls" can't come up with the words that I want to's annoying.

singamaraja said...

Singamaraja reading your blog

Ann said...

One of the doctors I work for just did a huge talk on this... You hit it all bang on (as usual). :D

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT post. If people only knew the dangers of these things. I NEVER use any of them and will NOT ingest anything containing them. It is POISON.

Hibiscus Moon said...

Its all poison. I try to stick to the real thing (in moderation) or stevia. I'm having a deja vu...or I already typed this on your blog somewhere...

Together We Save said...

We are trying to avoid all artifical sweeteners now. They are clearly very bad for you. Aviod can drinks as much as possible too.

~PakKaramu~ said...

Pak Karamu reading and visiting your blog

Hibiscus Moon said...

Hey Bridegett,

Congrats! We won the mermaid/witchy bottles. I can't wait to get mine! Email me at stipko at bellsouth dot net...if you want to compare bottles. :)

Sara said...

That is absolutely crazy!! We recently (within the past 6 months) became a sugar free/ reduced sugar house... I have been using Splenda like no other for our sweet tea and baking! We personally havent had any ill effects, but the possiblities are scary. I can't wait to see what more you have to say on this!!

Jennifer said...

Hmmm... I'm surprised there are so many people who don't know where else to turn besides artificial sweeteners.
From personal experience, before I knew what artificial sweeteners were, I used to get awful headaches every time I had them. Now I can tell EXACTLY when something I order out has one in it, I feel sick to my stomach with a headache almost immediately (Dunkin' Donuts coolatas were one! Their site says there aren't any in it, but I can't deny the headache).
If I am trying to cut sugar away, I go for stevia. I use Truvia packets in my every day life, and most of the drinks I like have stevia in them. Sobe Lifewater- Vitamin water 10 calorie. Those are just a couple examples.
I use honey, Raw sugar, Pure Cane sugar, agave nectar. I don't really avoid regular sugar, I just know its not particularly good for me, as i'm predisposed to diabetes. :)

angie said...

wow. this is scary!
i have been using aspartame to sweeten my daily espresso for addition i keep pitchers of sugar-free drinks (such as crystal light) in my fridge at all times.. i thought i was doing myself a favor by cutting calories, apparently not, what a farce.
i have been having bouts of nausea and headaches lately and now i'm wondering if this is the culprit!
i am going to stop using these products and switch to stevia, regular sugar, plain water and fruit juices and see if that helps me feel better. thanks so much for the info! (: