Additive 951: The Sweet Poison
by Shane Keane
In 1981 a revolutionary artificial sweetener was approved for use in dry goods and in 1983 it found its way into carbonated beverages. This notorious additive accounts for more than 75 percent of all the adverse reactions from food additives that are reported to the FDA (The United States Food and Drug Administration) and many of these adverse reactions are extremely serious, for example, seizures and death. This additive is called Aspartame, but is better known to most under the label of NutraSweet or as Artificial Sweetener 951.
Its most likely that you havent heard about the dangers of Aspartame before now. Why? Well the diet industry is worth hundreds of billions dollars to many corporations across the world and to keep profits flowing the damaging issues regarding Aspartame have been kept a well guarded secret.
Aspartame is the technical name for the artificial sweetener used in NutraSweet, Ajinomoto, Equal, and many other brands. Aspartame is used in many low calorie foods such as yoghurts, diet beverages, cereals, pharmaceuticals and chewing gum. This supposedly healthy alternative to sugar is widely considered as one of the most toxic food additives on the market. There are over 90 documented effects that occur from the consumption of Aspartame. Amongst the known side effects are: headaches, nausea, muscle spasms, depression, insomnia, vision problems, heart palpitations, anxiety attacks and memory loss. It is also believed that Aspartame use can cause and worsen the effects of many chronic illnesses such as brain tumours, multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons disease, Alzheimers and diabetes.
What makes Aspartame so dangerous? Well its got to do with the toxic cocktail of chemicals that are used to make it; Phenylalanine, Aspartic acid, and methanol.
50% of Aspartame is made up of Phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an amino acid found in the brain. Products that contain Aspartame will have the warning PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENLYLALANINE on the back of the label. This is a warning to people with Phenylketonuria (PKU) a disorder which stops them from being able to metabolise Phenylalanine. Many people who consume large amounts of Aspartame and do not have PKU have been shown to have excessive levels of Phenylalanine in their body. Extreme levels of this amino acid cause a reduction of serotonin in the brain which often leads to emotional problems like depression, mood swings, and violence and increased susceptibility to seizures.
Serotonin - A neurotransmitter involved in the processes of sleep and memory, as well as other neurological functions .
10% of Aspartame is methanol. Methanol is considered a deadly poison. When Aspartame is consumed methanol is slowly released in the small intestine and from there methanol breaks down into Formic acid and Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, a deadly neurotoxin, is used as an embalming fluid, for tanning leather, as a disinfectant and as a photographic chemical among many other uses. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen and causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication, and can cause birth defects. To get an idea of how much methanol is absorbed from Aspartame a one litre bottle of (Aspartame sweetened) Diet Coke contains 58mg of methanol, while the recommended limit of consumption for methanol is only 7.8mg per day.
The remaining 40% of Aspartame is made up of Aspartic acid. Aspartate acts as a neurotransmitter within the brain allowing information to be transmitted from neuron to neuron. Aspartame can cause excess amounts of Aspartate in the blood. Too much Aspartate in the brain kills certain neurons. To put it simply, the overload of Aspartate stimulates (or excites) the neurons to death, this is why Aspartate is referred to as a excitotoxin. Usually the brain can protect itself from excess amounts of excitotoxins, but in some cases it cannot. The brain is unable to protect itself in early stages of childhood or when debilitated by certain chronic conditions. This is why the use of Aspartame in yoghurts and vitamins is a huge risk to infants whose parents could be inadvertently damaging their children, with only the best intentions in mind. Some of the many illnesses which are known to be aggravated by long term excitotoxin damage include: Multiple Sclerosis, memory loss, epilepsy, Alzheimers, Parkinsons Disease, and hypoglycaemia. Excitory amino acid damage is also caused by the ingestion of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), another well known dangerous food additive.
A product as dangerous as Aspartame should never have been approved for use in food and beverages. In fact the approval by the FDA was put on hold for six years when in 1974 neuroscience researcher Dr. J.W. Olney objected against the approval of such a dangerous substance. The events leading up to the approval of Aspartame stink of corruption within the government and pharmaceutical industry and the complete disregard of the wellbeing of the public, your wellbeing. In 1981 G.D. Searle, the owners of the Aspartame patent, applied for approval for the second time. G.D. Searle CEO, Donald Rumsfeld (now the current Secretary of Defence for the (republican) Bush administration) had the advantage of having connections within the recently appointed (republican) Reagan administration to help push the approval. The FDA finally allowed use of Aspartame in dry goods in 1981 despite the inconclusive tests on the safety of Aspartame. Shortly after this, commissioner Arthur Hayes left the FDA under impropriety charges and was offered a job at G.D. Searles PR firm which paid in excess of $1000 a day.
In 1985 G.D Searle had losses of $28 million and sold out to Monsanto, a biotech giant, who made NutraSweet a separate subsidiary. Monsanto is infamous for being a law unto itself by having a great influence over governments and economies across the globe. An estimated 17,100,000 pounds of aspartame were consumed in the U.S. in 1987. NutraSweet stopped providing consumption data after 1987. In mid 1993 after the patent on Aspartame ran out in 1992, NutraSweet and partner Ajinomoto Co. began producing Aspartame at a new plant in France. Coincidentally, Ajinomoto is one of the biggest producers of MSG in the world. As word began to spread even further about the dangers of Aspartame, Monsanto sold the NutraSweet and Equal brands to Merisant Co in 2000.
Despite the facts above Aspartame continues to be one of the most popular artificial sweeteners. Awareness is spreading, but public relation firms are doing their best to turn the truth about Aspartame into an urban myth. But it isnt! You and your children could be absorbing this mind debilitating and body destroying chemical without even knowing it. Its up to you to spread the word and warn others of this toxic substance.