Diet Drinks: A healthy replacement?

Innocently enough, many turn to diet drinks as a safe alternative to sugar or alcoholic beverages. But, at what risk? Could you be exchanging one bad habit for another? Before you turn to diet drinks (as well as other “diet” or “sugar-free” foods), it’s important to be aware of the chemicals you could be consuming and the associated risks.

Here’s what you need to know about aspartame, the most common artificial sweetener lurking in low-calorie foods and beverages.

The Dangers of Aspartame

According to Wikipedia, aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than regular table sugar. Imagine how this could toy with one’s blood sugar! Aspartame was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1974 and has been a controversial substance ever since. The FDA has documented the association of aspartame with several conditions, such as: fatigue, headaches, nerve disorders, mood swings, fatigue, low blood sugar, joint pain, short-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, and more.

So, what is it made of? Aspartame is made of three chemicals, methanol, phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Let’s examine each of these chemicals more closely.

  • Methanol is an alcohol, commonly known as wood alcohol. Need I state the obvious? Alcohol has addictive properties. Methanol is commonly used in the production of automotive fluids, such as gasoline, biodiesel fuel and antifreeze.
  • Even more alarming, methanol converts to formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen. As you may already know, formaldehyde is commonly used in the preservation of dead organisms.
  • Phenylalanine is an amino acid highly regarded for its analgesic and antidepressant qualities. But of course, all things are best in moderation. When phenylalanine is heavily consumed, it interferes with serotonin levels in the brain. Low levels of serotonin are commonly associated with depression.
  • Aspartic Acid is an amino acid used in the formation of proteins. Consuming large amounts of aspartic acid is believed to trigger neurotoxic effects on the nerve cells of the body.

  • Now that you know the biochemical components of aspartame, does it seem like a substance designed for healthy human consumption? Despite the evidence weighing against aspartame, it is still widely available and heavily marketed in the diet-food industry. The FDA sticks to its claim that aspartame is safe in low-levels of consumption. The key word here is “low.” But, I ask how many diet soda drinkers do you know that have just one diet drink every once in a while? And if you tend to eat foods labeled as “sugar-free” or “low-calorie,” you will be surprised to find aspartame lurking in most of these types of food and beverages. You may be unaware of just how much aspartame you are exposed to on a daily basis.

    For the addict in recovery, aspartame can be an especially challenging substance as it has highly addictive properties. If you are clean and sober or considering the road to recovery, leave this nasty substance in your past and help your mind and body stay clean and focused. Remember, water is nature’s gift to you. For without water, nothing can survive.

    If you would like to learn more about aspartame, here are several informative sources:

    http://drbenkim.com/articles-artificialsweeteners.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame_controversy
    http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/OtherCarcinogens/AtHome/aspartame
    http://www.aspartame.org

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