In what you may consider stunning news (primarily because you’ve been led to believe it’s as safe as mom’s apple pie), the World Health Organization has taken a couple small steps to warn us about the dangers of the artificial sweetener, aspartame.
Many would say it’s long overdue.
In May 2023, the World Health Organization advised people trying to lose weight not to consume non-sugar sweeteners including aspartame.
That recommendation is based on a systematic review of the current scientific evidence, which suggests that non-sugar sweeteners are linked to higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and all-cause mortality. Plus, increased body weight.
Starting in July 2023, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), WHO’s cancer research arm, will list aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Found in a Shocking 6,000 Food Products!
Aspartame is one of the world’s most popular sugar substitutes. It is marketed as NutraSweet, Equal, Sugar Twin and AminoSweet. This artificial sweetener is found in more than 6,000 sugar-free, low-sugar and so-called “diet” drinks and foods.
Yet numerous studies link aspartame to serious health problems.
Just a few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in an FDA report as being caused by aspartame include:
Headaches, migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss and joint pain.
It is the food additive with the most complaints of all.
So, if you have any health issues at all, you owe it to yourself to read on and see if this might be the secret link to it.
What is Aspartame?
Aspartame is made up of three chemicals – phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol.
Phenylalanine (50% of aspartame) Phenylalanine is an amino acid normally found in the brain. Ingesting aspartame, especially along with carbohydrates, can lead to excess levels of phenylalanine in the brain.
Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the blood causes levels of serotonin in the brain to decrease, leading to emotional disorders such as depression.
Aspartic acid (40% of aspartame)
Dr. Russell Blaylock, a professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi, published a book detailing the damage caused by ingesting excessive aspartic acid from aspartame.
He cites 500 scientific references to show how excess free excitatory amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid in our food supply is causing serious chronic neurological disorders.
Aspartate and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain which can result in the influx of too much calcium into cells, triggering cell death. This is why they’re referred to as “excitotoxins.” They excite or stimulate neural cells to the point of death.
Methanol (10% of aspartame)
Methanol is referred to as wood alcohol and is a deadly poison. The EPA considers methanol a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once absorbed.
In the body, methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde and formic acid. Both metabolites are toxic.
Formaldehyde is known as a carcinogen, interferes with DNA replication, and is linked to birth defects.
Aspartame was first approved by the FDA in 1974 for use as a tabletop sweetener and is 200 times sweeter than sugar.
Aspartame is used in countless food and drink products. Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, many sugar-free carbonated beverages, and drink mixes contain aspartame. Most brands of sugar-free gum, candies, children’s medicines and vitamins, and a host of other products use aspartame to artificially add sweetness.
Aspartame, Weight Gain, and Obesity Related Issue
Findings suggest that artificial sweeteners do not contribute to weight loss – and instead may cause weight gain!
Here’s some of the ways it shows up:
- Increases in weight and waist circumference, higher incidence of obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular events. 
- Raises risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. 
- Increases appetite, which may promote weight gain.  And because aspartame is sweet it encourages sugar cravings and sugar dependence. 
- Significantly influenced the association between body mass index (BMI) and glucose tolerance.
- Induces glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota, changing it in dangerous ways. 
Aspartame Studies Point to Serious Health Risks
Many industry sponsored studies have reported no problems with aspartame. Yet dozens of independent studies conducted over decades have linked aspartame to a long list of health problems, including:
- Cancer. Aspartame is a multipotential carcinogenic agent. Aspartame is associated with increased cancer risk. Higher risks were observed for breast cancer and obesity-related cancers. 
- Brain tumors. Evidence suggests aspartame triggers an aggressive type of malignant brain tumors. Aspartame may explain the recent increase in incidence and malignancy of brain tumors. 
- Neurotoxicity, brain damage and mood disorders. Aspartame has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems including learning problems, seizure, irritable moods, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. 
- Headaches and migraines. Aspartame may be an important dietary trigger for headaches. Studies show a significant increase in headache and migraine frequency in some people. 
- Decreased kidney function. Consumption of more than two servings a day of artificially sweetened soda is associated with 2-fold increase in decreased kidney function in women. 
- Stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. People drinking diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia as those who consumed it weekly or less. [12,13]
How to Hydrate for Health
Don’t swap out diet soda with regular soda or fruit juice!
They’re both loaded with sugar and will cause blood sugar to spike. It’s best to quit soda and keep fruit juice to a bare minimum as an occasional treat.
Do drink plenty of plain, filtered water! This can’t be overstated.
If you need extra flavor in your water, fruit infusions are an excellent option.
Adding a slice of lemon or lime or a sprig of mint will give water a delicious flavor boost. Blackberries, strawberries, cherries, or peaches added to an infusion pitcher create a fresh, healthy enhancement to water.
Get creative and experiment with different authentic fruit combinations to discover your new favorite flavor sensation.
Consuming plenty of water is paramount for good health. Your body will thank you for it!
The Other Way to Avoid Aspartame
Since aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are found in so many foods, learn to read labels. Automatically suspect that any given product contains it unless you can easily assess otherwise.
Start with your pantry and see if food products you already own contain them.
Another easy way to avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (in all its many disguises) is to stick to eating real food that you prepare for yourself – such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
 Azad, Meghan B., et al.Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. CMAJ July 17, 2017 vol. 189 no. 28 doi:10.1503/cmaj.16139
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3] Yang Q, “Gain Weight by ‘Going Diet?’ Artificial Sweeteners and the Neurobiology of Sugar Cravings.” Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 2010 Jun;83(2):101-8. PMID: 20589192.
 Yang Q, “Gain Weight by ‘Going Diet?’ Artificial Sweeteners and the Neurobiology of Sugar Cravings.” Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 2010 Jun;83(2):101-8. PMID: 20589192.
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 Suez J et al. “Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota.” Nature. 2014 Oct 9;514(7521). PMID: 25231862.
 Charlotte Debras, et al.”Artificial sweeteners and cancer risk: Results from the NutriNet-Santé population-based cohort study.” PLOS Medicine. Published: March 24, 2022. [
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 Julie Lin and Gary C. Curhan. “Associations of Sugar and Artificially Sweetened Soda with Albuminuria and Kidney Function Decline in Women.” Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2011 Jan; 6(1): 160–166.
 Yang M et al. “Alzheimer’s Disease and Methanol Toxicity (Part 1): Chronic Methanol Feeding Led to Memory Impairments and Tau Hyperphosphorylation in Mice.” J Alzheimers Dis. 2014 Apr 30.
 Yang M et al. “Alzheimer’s Disease and Methanol Toxicity (Part 2): Lessons from Four Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta) Chronically Fed Methanol.” J Alzheimers Dis. 2014 Apr 30.