Though it has been banned twice by the FDA, Aspartame is currently found in over 6,000 product worldwide. Since it is 200 times sweeter than sugar, it is often used in diet soft drinks, low calorie yogurts and other foods and beverages that want to claim, “low calorie” while still offering a sweet flavor. Unfortunately, the product has been linked to severe health issues including brain damage, which will be explained further. For now, let’s look at a brief history of Aspartame.
It all started in the 1960’s by a company called G.D. Searle. It was made by accident while trying to create a product for stomach ulcers. Rushed through the FDA by dubious testing standards to gain approval, it later generated the first criminal investigation of a manufacturer ever by the FDA in 1977, after severe health issues started to arise. By 1980 Aspartame was banned by the FDA after three independent scientists studied the product and found it unsafe (one of the main issues were brain tumors). In 1981 the new FDA commissioner Arthur Hayes Hull Jr. decided to review the product again with a 5-person panel, which affirmed the ban on Aspartame with a 3-2 vote. Hull then decided to appoint a 6th member to create a tie. Hull then decided to personally break the tie and open it up to commercial use. In 1985 Monsanto purchased the rights to Aspartame from G.D. Searle.
Health Dangers of Aspartame
Since then, several studies have been published about the side effects of Aspartame. One study conducted by scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, discovered that 2 or more diet sodas per day, most containing Aspartame, lead to a doubled risk of kidney disease. Another study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed aspartame being linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia. Further, a study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition said that Aspartame causes brain damage by leaving traces of methanol in the blood. An additional study published by the Washington University Medical School outlined a connection between Aspartame and brain tumors.
Since a Aspartame molecule is made of about 10% methanol, it is released into the body within hours of consumption. The main issue with Methanol is that is easily passes through the blood brain barrier and once there, it is converted into formaldehyde, which is what causes the brain damage. It was also determined that one of the amino acids found in Aspartame are capable of crossing the blood brain barrier, creating a cellular overstimulation called excitotoxicity… which can lead to cellular death.
As you can see there are many reasons to avoid Aspartame and products like diet soda and low-calorie yogurts that contain the substance. It appears from scientific research that zero is the acceptable level of Aspartame ingestion.