After watching something very disturbing on Dr. Oz, I had to hop over here to the blog and get my soap box moment over with before I explode. Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I absolutely, completely, 100%, never, ever, ever condone or use chemical sweeteners in anything. I don’t care how many people tell you that they are safe . . . they aren’t. A little of my back story and experiences with chemical sugars and why I feel the way I do . . .
I was very thin growing up. This is actually an understatement. My bones stuck out where bones weren’t supposed to stick out, and being tall, the excessiveness of my thinness was accentuated. I was teased in Jr. High for being so skinny, and was laughed at for not being developed when all of the other girls were. I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, as much as I wanted and I never gained an ounce. When I was pregnant with my daughter I gained 65 lbs, but lost a lot of it and was actually at a healthy weight when I got pregnant with my son. I only gained 25 lbs with him, and was back to normal fairly quickly. My ex and I were both quite young, I was 23 when my 2nd child was born, and we were on a tight budget. Both of us liked soda, but it was a luxury we couldn’t indulge in all that often, much less getting more than one kind. As usual, being a rather controlling individual, his choice was the one we went with, and with NutraSweet (aspartame) being rather new on the market, we went with Diet Coke.
At first I hated it, with a passion, all I could taste was the bitter, chemical flavor, but over time, as with anything, I adapted to the flavor and that was what we began to drink. We were told it was safe by the FDA, and we both could afford to lose just a few pounds and all of that sugar wasn’t good for us, right? That was the time in my life when I began to put the pounds on, slowly at first, but steadily. I also began to get horrible migraines on a very regular, and increasing basis. Of course, I didn’t make the connection. Years later when my youngest was about 10 years old, I was working for a chiropractor in Seattle. I was pretty new to the position in his office and one day around break time I took my can of Diet Coke out of my lunch bag to sip at while I worked. When the office closed for the lunch break he very firmly and very clearly stated that I was not to have that poison in his office, around his patients, as we were a natural health facility doing everything we could to promote a healthy lifestyle. I can honestly tell you, after reading the printed material he gave me, that Dr. Bartlett saved my life. My family quit drinking diet soda immediately. Amazing things began to happen! My headaches began to reduce (they didn’t stop until after my ex and I split – some things are caused by stress!), and his chronic and raging acid reflux stopped. Hmmm . . . so what else could go wrong with these chemicals that the FDA has deemed as safe? Well, let’s find out.
First it would be good to know what names chemical sugars to look for on your food labels. I may miss a few, but these are the main bad guys. I’ll then tell you about a new one that is hitting the market, and that could be more frightening than all of these others combined.
1. NutraSweet/Aspartame – This link will take you to a very informative website that may open your eyes even more than I can . . . but let me go over the highlights.
The dangers of aspartame have been in the news for quite some time, and I find myself shocked that I see so many people happily guzzling diet soda, eating yogurt and other sweetened foods pumped full of it. The most current studies show that aspartame is a carcinogen, and this isn’t new! It was determined to be dangerous as early as the 1960s. Over the past 30 years it has been found to eat holes in brain tissue, and is dangerous to eat during pregnancy. (it’s dangerous to eat any time, but the baby isn’t making the choice to eat poison – the mother is) It has been proven to lower the IQ of an unborn baby by an average of 20 points, to deform the cleft palette while the baby is developing and to negatively affect brain and nerve development as the baby grows. The amount of negative research that has accumulated over the past 30 years, proving the health dangers of aspartame as a toxic drug/food additive, should have resulted in this chemical being removed from the public market long, long ago! The truth is that it WAS removed from the public market after it was initially approved . . . it’s been approved twice! In the 1970s when it was first approved by the FDA, the approval was taken back when research was presented showing that it ate holes in the brains of lab animals. So what happened? If this had been a test on a vitamin or health supplement it would have been pulled right away! It’s still on the market, so that tells me, and anyone else with a brain, that big money changed hands and TADA! Let’s shove all of that negative stuff under the carpet so these folks can make BIG money!
There are over 92 listed side-effects of aspartame on the human body. Here is a copy and paste of just a few:
blindness in one or both eyes
decreased vision and/or other eye problems such as: blurring, bright flashes, squiggly lines, tunnel vision, decreased night vision
pain in one or both eyes
trouble with contact lenses
tinnitus – ringing or buzzing sound
severe intolerance of noise
marked hearing impairment
headaches, migraines and (some severe)
dizziness, unsteadiness, both
confusion, memory loss, both
severe drowsiness and sleepiness
paresthesia or numbness of the limbs
severe slurring of speech
severe hyperactivity and restless legs
atypical facial pain
shortness of breath
recent high blood pressure
diarrhea, sometimes with blood in stools
pain when swallowing
Skin and Allergies
itching without a rash
lip and mouth reactions
aggravated respiratory allergies such as asthma
Endocrine and Metabolic
loss of control of diabetes
marked thinning or loss of hair
marked weight loss
gradual weight gain
aggravated low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
frequency of voiding and burning during urination
excessive thirst, fluid retention, leg swelling, and bloating
increased susceptibility to infection
Additional Symptoms of Aspartame Toxicity include the most critical symptoms of all
irreversible brain damage
birth defects, including mental retardation
aspartame addiction and increased craving for sweets
hyperactivity in children
Aspartame may trigger, mimic, or cause the following illnesses:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Mercury sensitivity from Amalgam fillings
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
So, why are we still eating this? I’m not, and I hope you will stop if you currently are ingesting this dangerous toxin. And please – read this website – it’ll scare you off of the stuff . . . and not a moment too soon.
2. Splenda / Sucralose – After the news started getting around, and personal testimonies being shared, about negative reactions to NutraSweet, as with all things that make people a lot of money, a new alternative was developed and hit the market, touted as safe. Many of you are familiar with Splenda, or sucralose. It is an artificial sweetener that in the most basic terms, comes from bleaching sugar! (chlorinated sucrose derivative). BEFORE it was approved by the FDA it was found that sucralose caused shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage – and enlarged liver and kidneys. Recent research shows that it can cause problems with caecal (the pouch at the start of the large intestine) enlargement and renal mineralization. Whoa! AFTER it was approved? So why is it on the market in our foods, and being sold to kids and in kids products? It’s even in toothpaste and mouthwash! Mmmmmm don’t you just love the idea of all that poison in your mouth, or your children’s mouths? The manufacturer insisting the opposite, research shows that sucralose breaks down into small amounts of 1,6-dichlorofructose, which is a chemical that has not been adequately tested in humans. Even more important, sucralose MUST break down in the digestive system – which the manufacturer claims it doesn’t – because if it didn’t, it would not chemically react on the tongue to provide a sweet taste. The truth is that it does break down to some degree in the digestive system. As for long-term hazards? We don’t know! The manufacturer’s “100s of studies” (which do show hazards) were very clearly inadequate. Also, the manufacturer claims that the chlorine added to sucralose is similar to the chlorine atom in salt molecule. That isn’t the case. Eating Sucralose is more like ingesting tiny amounts of chlorinated pesticides . . . but we will never know what the end damage to THAT will be without long-term, independent human research.
The sad conclusion is that even though it isn’t likely that Sucralose is as toxic as Monsanto’s aspartame, it is clear – at least to me – that the hazards that were found in the pre-approval research and from the chemical structure that years or decades of use, that this may contribute to very serious health problems!
3. Saccharin – I remember back in high school, before NutraSweet, the only diet soda I ever drank and liked was Tab. Remember it? I loved it! And then all the negative health press started about how the sweetener in Tab, and other things, caused cancer in laboratory animals. I stopped drinking Tab, many didn’t. Though Saccharin wasn’t taken off of the market, it did begin carrying a label warning that “use of this product may be hazardous to your health . . . contains saccharin which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animal.” This warning was lifted in 2001 by the FDA saying that it no longer is connected to causing cancer in humans. Could that be because so many people stopped using as much of it? Geez people! The human body hasn’t changed, and neither has its reaction to the crazy stuff we ingest. So here is something you may not know! Saccharin may be present in drugs in substantial amounts! When a child takes the recommended daily dosage of chewable aspirin or acetaminophen tablets, they get about the same amount of saccharin that they’d get in a can of diet soda. This amount, depending on the weight of the child, taken over a long period of time, is considered to be “heavy use”, as it is defined by the FDA/National Cancer Institute epidemiologic study. In this study, heavy use of artificial sweeteners is associated with a significant increase in risk for developing bladder cancer! This study was followed by an “independent” review, which decided that there wasn’t a link to this at all. Hmmm, now I wonder how much THAT cost the company that produces Saccharin? I didn’t know that much about this sweetener when I started this post, so I kept digging. I found t hat Saccharin is what is called an “O-toluene sulfonamide derivative”, and though I’m not really sure what that is, it apparently causes similar dermatologic reactions in people who has a sulfa allergy! Hypersensitivity can be tested by an allergist. I’m going to copy and paste the study of reactions that were found in 42 test patients because quite honestly I am not even sure what the first 2 reactions even ARE, but the “other” reactions I understand completely. . . “In a series of 42 patients with adverse effects resulting from consumption of saccharin in pharmaceutical agents, pruritus and urticaria were the most common reactions, followed by eczema, photosensitivity,
and prurigo. Other reactions include wheezing, nausea, diarrhea, tongue blisters, tachycardia, fixed eruptions, headache, diuresis, and sensory neuropathy.” Does this sound like something you want for yourself or your children? Apparently there is even saccharin in some infant’s formula that are connected with these symptoms within 36 hours of ingestion. . . “ associated with irritability, hypertonia, insomnia, opisthotonos, and strabismus . .” WHY WOULD WE EAT THIS OR FEED IT TO OUR CHILDREN?
4. Acesulfame Potassium (K) – Here’s a happy one that was approved for use by the FDA as safe in 1988. It comes from acetoacetic acid, and there are several potential problems with it have been raised. These are based on animal studies – poor animals – since even now it seems that testing on humans is limited. They found that Acesulfame K stimulates insulin secretion in a way that creates dependency on it and can aggravate reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It also apparently produced lung tumors, breast tumors, rare types of tumors in other organs like the thyroid gland, several forms of leukemia and chronic respiratory disease with less than maximum doses! Yum – doesn’t that sound just lovely to toss into your coffee or tea now?
5. Sweetmyx – This is new and due to hit markets soon – and I heard about it on Dr. Oz today. There was a food expert on there today who is saying that nobody really knows WHAT is in this stuff, and Dr. Oz researched it as much as he could and was stonewalled. The exclusive rights were purchased by Pepsi for use in beverages (soda, flavored waters, energy drinks and even juice) and will be hitting the market soon. There is another company – that this expert wasn’t naming – that will be releasing this in food products and alcoholic beverages. This is what I heard today – and I recorded it so I could watch it several times – The FDA has not studied this for any industry approval. Here is the FDA Statement that was linked on Dr. Oz’s site:
I don’t know about you but this scares me. And the worst thing? It doesn’t have to be labeled as what it is! They are going to be allowed, since it technically ISN’T a sweetener, to hide this in the blanket term “artificial flavors or artificial sweeteners”. Are you serious?
So what are we to do if we don’t want to have a lot of sugar, but still love sweets?
Well, obviously the healthiest alternative because it is natural, and provided you don’t have diabetes, would be honey. God created this and it’s honestly the best! BUT beyond honey we have lovely alternative choices that we can enjoy.
Stevia – Stevia is a naturally growing and beautiful herb. It can be grown, harvested and made into a simple syrup to use in iced tea. I don’t mind a slightly green tinge to my tea and it truly is 100% natural. Keep in mind that Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar, which is why some people perceive it as bitter. They are used to adding sugar to their foods/beverages and by adding too much stevia it is far too concentrated and will be bitter. Just a slight amount will do. If you want a really delicious soda that is naturally sweetened but zero calorie, look for Zevia – it is sweetened with a combination of stevia and Erythritol – which I’ll get to in a moment.
Xylitol – This is a product you will always find in my house. Though it is more expensive than sugar, it is worth it. You can use it cup for cup the same way you use sugar for baking – though it doesn’t dissolve quite as well, so it is better in thicker cookie dough, rather than delicate ones like sugar cookies. Xylitol is made from either birch sap or corn, but because of all the GMO corn out there, I only use products made from pure birch. Xylitol is also very good for you! It can help clear up respiratory infections and can help prevent tooth decay. Long ago Trident gum was only made with xylitol to sweeten it, but they’ve ruined it completely by mixing the xylitol with aspartame. Stupid move Trident! Xylitol is the same sweetness as sugar.
Erythritol – this is similar to Xylitol, made from the same ingredients but only 70% as sweet as sugar. I don’t like my tea too sweet, so this is ideal for me to use for that, and honestly I’ve baked with it. If you don’t like things that are TOO cloyingly sweet, this would be awesome for you. You can find this on the market as Truvia – in a blend with Stevia.
Coconut Palm Sugar – I love this stuff and buy it online also. More and more stores are stocking it, but I find that if I order it at the same time as my Xylitol, it’s just easier. This is a safe sugar for diabetics because it has such a low glycemic impact, and it caramelizes in a very lovely way when used in baking. It’s delicious.
Please – assess what it is you are putting into your body and allowing your family to eat. It could make the difference between health and being sick! I hope this helped and will give even one person a new outlook on what is included in the foods we buy. Even the ones labeled as “healthy”.