The Health Menace of Artificial Sweeteners

Most people can not get by without some sweetness in their lives. Yet, many of these have meanwhile learned that the consumption of refined sugar is linked to obesity, premature aging, and many degenerative diseases, including cancer.

Looking for calorie-reduced alternatives to refined sugar, people often resort to sweetening their beverages with artificial sweeteners such as Nutrasweet or Equal            ( Aspartame !), and choose Aspartame-containing varieties of soft drinks like Coke Zero, Pepsi Max, etc., over ordinary soft drinks which contain 10 teaspoons of refined sugar (= 40 g of sugar providing 160 sugar calories ) per 12 oz. can. Unfortunately, Aspartame is an artificial sweetener which nutritionally belongs to the so called “excitotoxins”, and is even far more detrimental to human health than refined sugar.  It is, in fact, the most dangerous one of all artificial sweeteners. Although the three components of Aspartame – Methanol, Aspartic Acid and Phenylalanine  -  are found in natural foods, these become a deadly health-hazard, when isolated from their original food sources :

The neurotoxic Methanol, which makes up 10 % of Aspartame, is metabolized into formaldehyde and formic acid, which are both deadly cancer-causing poisons. The other two components of Aspartame, Phenylalanine ( 50% ) and Aspartic Acid ( 40 % ), are amino acids which occur naturally in food as part of complex protein molecules which usually take many hours to break down and assimilate. When they are ingested in their isolated form, merely fused together by the deadly Methanol, they require no digestion and quickly enter the brain and central nervous system in high concentration, over-stimulating brain cells to death and causing many other health problems such as neurodegenerative and neurological disorders ( Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, multiple sclerosis symptoms, anxiety attacks, depression ), endocrine disorders, heart attacks, strokes, tumors, migraines, seizures, vision loss, birth defects, etc. . Aspartic Acid also causes Hyperactivity, and it is therefore obvious that Aspartame ( Diet Sodas etc.) must definitely be avoided by children affected by ADD/ADHD conditions and during pregnancy. Phenylalanine blocks serotonin and causes PMS, insomnia, severe mood swings, seizures etc. 

Other artificial sweeteners don’t fare much better. They include Sucralose ( Splenda !) , which is a chlorcarbon poison and was discovered when trying to create an insecticide; Cyclamate, which has been banned in the US for its cancer-causing potential, and Acesulfame K  ( Sweet One), containing the known carcinogen methylene chloride, which can also cause mental confusion, liver and kidney problems. Blends of these toxic substances, as used in many processed foods and drinks, are even more hazardous than any one on its own.

If  hearing about all this toxicity of artificial sweeteners and the concern for your health should not be enough to deter you from consuming your Coke Zero or Pepsi Max, or from using any artificial sweeteners in your coffee or tea, it may also interest you that these exitotoxins may, although not containing any calories, actually contribute to weight gain, as there is evidence that these substances may stimulate appetite. Some intense artificial sweeteners also appear to stimulate the “sweet receptors” in the intestines that increase the body’s capacity to absorb more sugar.

Fortunately, there exist healthy calorie-free or calorie-reduced alternatives to both refined sugars AND toxic artificial sweeteners that do not only make it possible for you to keep the sweetness in your food and beverages , but at the same time even promote better health.

One such natural sweetener is Stevia, a herbal extract from the leaves of the herb Stevia Rebaudiana with up to 300 times the sweetening power of sugar. Besides safely sweetening your food and beverages, Stevia can help in the treatment of obesity and contribute to maintaining blood sugar balance; it can alleviate high blood pressure and improve oral health by inhibiting the growth of some bacteria and other infectious organisms, including those that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Stevia’s only disadvantage is that some brands have a slightly bitter after-taste and do not taste exactly like sugar; to get a sugar like taste it is therefore important to choose a Stevia supplement which has a high percentage of rebaudiosides (30-40 percent), the sweetest compounds of the steviosides in the Stevia leaves.

Another safe, natural sugar alternative which also offers some health benefits is erythritol, a polyol that will not cause the digestive problems common with other sugar-alcohols, such as Xylitol, Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, but will reduce the acidity in dental plaque that causes cavities and tooth decay. It is slightly less sweet than sugar.

Yet another healthy sugar alternative is an extract from the Luo Han Guo (Momordica grosvenorii ) fruit which does not only sweeten your food or beverages, but has a lot of beneficial health properties. The fruit is even said to promote longevity.

Dr. Christoph Klueppel
Certified Nutrition - & Natural Health Consultant