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The Dangers of Aspartame

Before I started along the path to my current weight loss journey, I was unaware to many of the dangers in the foods I was consuming, as I am sure most others are. It wasn’t until I was attending a social anxiety group session that I actually found out about Aspartame first hand.

I guess I will begin by explaining exactly what aspartame is. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that has no calories and no nutritional value. It is made of Aspartic Acid. Products use aspartame instead of sugar to promote “low fat” or “low sugar” or “low calories” so that people buy into these products thinking they are better for them.

Some of these products include things like carbonated soft drinks, powdered soft drinks, chewing gum, confections, gelatins, dessert mixes, puddings and fillings, frozen desserts, yogurt, tabletop sweeteners, and some pharmaceuticals such as vitamins and sugar-free cough drops and Crystal Light that is used to flavor water.

Scientific testing was done to establish aspartame's safety, which resulted in brain tumors and grand mal seizures in rat studies, and depression, menstrual irregularities, constipation, headaches, tiredness, and general swelling in human test groups. When exposed to heat, aspartame breaks down into toxic methyl alcohol. It was also stated that 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives were linked to aspartame use.

Aspartame and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartame or glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartame and glutamate is why they are referred to as "excitotoxins." They "excite" or stimulate the neural cells to death.

Aspartic acid is an amino acid. Taken in its free form (unbound to proteins) it significantly raises the blood plasma level of aspartate and glutamate. The excess aspartate and glutamate in the blood plasma shortly after ingesting aspartame or products with free glutamic acid (glutamate precursor) leads to a high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain.

The blood brain barrier (BBB), which normally protects the brain from excess glutamate and aspartate as well as toxins, 1) is not fully developed during childhood, 2) does not fully protect all areas of the brain, 3) is damaged by numerous chronic and acute conditions, and 4) allows seepage of excess glutamate and aspartate into the brain even when intact. The excess glutamate and aspartate slowly begin to destroy neurons. The large majority (75 percent or more) of neural cells in a particular area of the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed.

As of today, there are now 92 known dangerous side-effects that are a result of using products that contain aspartame. These being anything ranging from blindness and headaches to epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease.

As I stated previously, I was able to find out about this danger because of an anxiety group I had attended. The lady who ran the group had suffered some of these symptoms that her doctor linked to the use of aspartame products when she was dieting. She experienced over 75 mini-strokes, as well as having to walk with a cane for 2 years all as a result from this.

As a conclusion, all I ask is that all of you read the nutritional labels to the foods you are buying for you and your family. In most cases, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the label, they are not good for you and contain no nutritional value. So please be safe and happy dieting!

About the Author: By Missy Wagner at Biggest Loser Forums and The Biggest Loser Blog

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