So there I was, having a great breakfast at Friendly Toast in Portsmouth, NH and of course I couldn’t help but observe (okay, I was inwardly seething with contemptuous judgment at) all the unhealthy food everyone was eating. Speaking of which, have you noticed how hard it is to be out in public these day and find healthy looking people – you know, people who (1) are not overweight; (2) have glowing complexion, or at least clear skin; (3) move with any type of crisp, coordinated energy? Just recently, I went to the New England Aquarium, and while standing in line, I mentally tried to scan the very large crowd to find healthy people – I could only find one family … from India. Sorry, I digress …
Anyway, there we were in the House of Inflammation, I mean Friendly Toast, where everyone, and I mean everyone, was eating some wheat product or bread in the form of pancakes, toast, waffles, or French toast, and of course most of it slathered with some shit sugar sauce. Sorry, again I digress …
But what caught my eye (in addition to the raging and overt march to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer), was the table across from me. In addition to gorging on insulin-spiking, pro-inflammatory grains, the four adults (who were actually 7.5 adults in their total weight), were dumping Splenda into their coffee like it was fairy dust.
I wanted to walk over, drop to my knees and beg them to … PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE STOP EATING THESE TERRIBLE CHEMICALS – THEY’RE SLOWLY POISONING AND KILLING YOU.
By the way, in case you were wondering what I ordered off the insulin land mine field they call a menu, I had Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict, no bread, with a side order of sauteed spinach. We mixed the spinach in with our eggs, smoked salmon and Hollandaise sauce – it was super yummy, and very satisfying; and because it had plants, fats, and protein, the meal was very nutritious and healthy.
Okay, back to the incredibly toxic nature of artificial sweeteners:
Artificial Sweeteners: A History of Lies and Poison
Don’t have time to read this? Want the bottom line, the take away? Artificial sweeteners are extremely toxic and should be one of the foods you never, ever eat. Stay away from artificial sweeteners like you would a drunk driver waving a gun out the window. Yes, they’re that bad for you. Aspartame and sucralose are the ultimate slow poison, toxic, disease-food. (Aspartame = Nutrasweet and Equal; Sucralose = Splenda)
Our world is filled with deception, to be sure. From our presidents’ lying to us, to sophisticated advertising about food (such as ‘Milk does a body good’ – the best advertising campaign AND best food scam in the past 50 years), it’s become difficult at any given moment to sort out the truth. When it comes to filtering out accurate information regarding health, the waters become even murkier.
In the world of sweeteners, the misinformation is not only standard operating procedure within the food manufacturing industry, it is further obscured by the power of lobbying and advertising that is harnessed by the food and chemical industries. For example, I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials today touting how high fructose corn syrup is safe and natural ‘if eaten in moderation;’ this is patently false – high fructose corn syrup should be called ‘a pipeline to diabetes.’
Another major area of food/health deception is the perceived harmlessness of artificial sweeteners. To the vast majority of people, a Diet Coke® is a relatively “healthy” beverage choice, they think, because it has no sugar or calories. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Artificial Sweeteners – A Storied Past
Artificial sweeteners have a checkered past dating back to the discovery of saccharin in 1879 which, like nearly all artificial sweeteners, was discovered by accident and later banned…and later again restored. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola in his book Sweet Deception, chemical giant Monsanto was formed in 1901 “…for the sole purpose of producing saccharin.” The two big players in the artificial sweetener field today are aspartame (brand names Nutrasweet® and Equal®) and sucralose (brand name Splenda®).
Aspartame – The Perfect Chemical Villain
Aspartame, the most widely used artificial sweetener (found in over 6,000 products consumed by more than 250 million people in soda pop, sugarless gum, “sugar-free” foods) has come under scientific scrutiny in journal articles reporting the following neurophysiologic effects following digestion and metabolism of aspartame into the bloodstream:1
- Neurological and behavioral disturbances
- Headaches, insomnia, and seizures
- Compromised learning and emotional functioning
- Neurodegeneration leading to senile dementia (i.e. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease)
- Inhibition of normal brain chemistry function
VIDEO: “Sweet Misery – A Poisoned World”
If you watch this video, and I encourage you to do so, you’ll never be the same again (I promise, you’ll become an anti-artificial sweetener evangelist)!
Aspartame’s Deadly Trio
Aspartame (1-aspartyl 1-phenylalanine methyl ester) is broken down into three toxic components upon digestion: phenylalanine (50%), aspartic acid (40%) and methyl ester (10%) - they all enter the bloodstream.
Phenylalanine, a common amino acid found naturally in foods in small amounts, does not normally pose a risk (except in individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU), the genetic disease marked by the inability to break down phenylalanine). However, in most people, Nutrasweet produces an abnormally high 50% ratio of phenylalanine; this is something not found in nature, and when it enters the human body, it causes changes in the ratio of neurotransmitters and interrupts brain function, resulting in excessive brain neuron firing and potential cell death. As phenylalanine levels increase, this change in the ratio of neurotransmitters has been shown to cause seizures. Additionally, when exposed to elevated temperatures (think trucks driving pallets of diet soda across the country during Spring and Summer, and all year round in the West), phenylalanine is broken down into diketopiperazine (DKP), a known tumor-forming carcinogen.
The Dementia Connection
Aspartic acid, the second component, is known as a neuroexcitotoxin, a term given to molecules that excite and hyper-stimulate nerve cells, particularly in the brain. This over-stimulation of brain nerve cells eventually causes them to burn out and die. Aspartame consumption is now being considered as a contributing cause to the increasing rates of senile dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease seen today.
The third component, methyl ester, once digested is converted into methyl alcohol, a toxin found in paint remover and wood alcohol. Methyl alcohol is highly toxic to the body and is broken down by the liver into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, which ultimately can lead to methanol poisoning resulting in fatal kidney damage, organ system failure, blindness, and death. Methanol is classified as a narcotic. Making matters worse is that because phenylalanine and methanol increase dopamine release within the brain, it can become addictive due to the “dopamine high” it produces.
People who swear off diet sodas often experience withdrawal symptoms such as:
DIET SODA UPDATE – May 2011: Diet soda heightens risk for stroke, heart attack, and vascular death. “The researchers also observed a marginally significant increased risk for vascular events among those who consumed diet soda daily and regular soda once or more a month.” [American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference. Abstract # P55. News conference February 9, 2011 read article]
ASPARTAME UPDATE – July 2010: Dr. Mercola speaks AGAIN about the dangers of Aspartame [read article]
ASPARTAME UPDATE – Nov 2009: Aspartame Found To Cause Kidney Damage. Research by Dr. Julie Lin and Dr. Gary Curhan of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s annual meeting in San Diego reported “a significant two-fold increased odds, between two or more servings per day of artificially sweetened soda and faster kidney function decline; no relation between sugar-sweetened beverages and kidney decline was noted.” [read article]
SPLENDA – THE NEWEST POISON
As the toxic physiologic effects of aspartame are becoming more widely known, a newcomer has emerged - sucralose, or Splenda®, its brand name. It is the sweetener used today in many “sugar-free” foods. It’s found in nearly 5,000 food products, as well as pharmaceutical drugs and chewing gum.
The makers of Splenda claim sucralose is made from sugar and is therefore ‘natural.’ Yes, Splenda is made from sugar, but contrary to these claims, it is not natural. It seems obvious when the final product is five to six hundred times sweeter than sugar, that it couldn’t be ‘natural’ or healthy.
Chemically, Splenda is a chlorinated artificial sugar. Sucralose is made by switching out three naturally occurring hydrogen-oxygen groups with three chlorine atoms on a sucrose molecule, forming a chlorocarbon – when this is done, it is no longer natural or healthy.
“…chlorocarbons are never nutritionally compatible with our metabolic processes and are wholly incompatible with normal human metabolic functioning.” - James Bowden, MD2
Just like common table salt (sodium chloride) does not contain the same form of sodium that is found naturally in dark green vegetables, the chlorine chemically created in laboratories and processed into the creation of sucralose is not the same whatsoever to the chlorine found naturally in soil, water, and food. Furthermore, the chlorine found naturally in foods is not the same as man-made chlorine put into our swimming pools and foods (chlorine added to municipal water supplies has long been questioned as a cause of cancer; according to the FDA, chlorine is classified as a ‘class-one carcinogen’ in humans). [If you’re as old as I am, you may recall that organochlorines include the now-banned chemical insecticides, pesticides, and solvents such as DDT, Aldrin and Dieldrin, Chlordane, Dioxins, chloroform, Mustard gas, dichloroethane, dichloromethane, trichloroethane, etc.]
Scientific animal studies have shown Splenda to cause the following: 3
- Genetic mutation/damaged DNA (a precursor to cancer)
- Decreased fertility
- Chronic toxicity (red blood cells, thymus, thyroid, colon, liver, brain, ovaries, kidneys, cataracts)
- Growth retardation
- Damaged immune system
Reported side effects in people using Splenda include the following:3
- Skin irritation (redness, itching, swelling, blistering, eruptions, rashes)
- Lung irritation (wheezing, tightness, cough or shortness of breath)
- Head: dry mouth and sinuses; swelling or inflammation of the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, or throat
- Headaches and migraines
- Nose: congestion, runny nose, sneezing
- Eyes: bloodshot, itchy, swollen or watery
- Stomach: bloating, gas, pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Heart: chest pains, palpitations, or fluttering
- Joints: joint pains or aches
- Neurological: seizures, anxiety, anger, panic, insomnia, dizziness, mood swings, depression
- Other: blood in urine, menstrual irregularity, night sweats, numbness of the limbs
“Sugar-Free” – The Final Lie
Finally, Splenda is advertised as a “No Calorie Sweetener.” However, to make it taste better and easier to handle and bake with, ninety-nine percent of a packet of Splenda is composed of bulking agents such as dextrose and maldodextrin, which are corn-derived sugars that elevate blood glucose levels, leading to diabetes and obesity. The manufacturers of Splenda can get away with calling it “sugar-free” due to food labeling laws which allow a product to be called “sugar-free” if it contains less than .5 grams of sugar, and “calorie-free” if it contains less than 5 calories.
Using Splenda as an ant killer [read here]
Artificial sweeteners are one of the five foods I never put in my body; the other four are deep fried foods, hydrogenated oils, cured meats, and MSG (monosodium glutamate, also labeled as hydrolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed vegetable protein).
2James Bowen, MD The Lethal Science of Splenda, A Poisonous Chlorocarbon, 2005. [view article]
3Mercola J, Pearsall KD, Sweet Deception: Why Splenda, NutraSweet, and the FDA May Be Hazardous to Your Health, Nelson Books, Nashville, TN, 2006