November 12, 2009

Aspartame Sweeteners Health Risks and Side Effects

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is used to duplicate the taste of natural sugar. It is added in very small quantities as its effect is about 200 times stronger than sugar. Aspartame has been the subject of a great deal of research and many tests and studies have been done to determine the safety of aspartame. The food and drug administration has declared aspartame as safe for use. It has also been declared safe during pregnancy by the American dietetic association. Phenylketonuria or PKU is a hereditary condition characterized by increased levels of phenylalanine in the bloodstream. This substance is an important component of proteins and is also present in aspartame. If the condition is left untreated, phenylalanine can rise to dangerous levels, causing further health complications. So if you suffer from PKU, then it is recommended that you stay away from aspartame.

Aspartame Pregnancy Risks

Another factor associated with aspartame is that it is used in place of sugar as it contains far fewer calories. However, children require a high content of calories and so does a pregnant mother. As such being too calorie conscious may be depriving yourself and the fetus of much needed calories. Trying to control weight gain should not be at the cost of your health and the health of your baby. Aspartame contains the amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, which constitute proteins. However, aspartame is chemically different from proteins. When aspartame is consumed, it is broken down into substances such as phenylalanine, methanol and aspartic acid. These products are also found in naturally occurring foods such as vegetables, milk and fruit. Sometime during the digestion process, some amount of these substances may pass into the placenta. Research has shown that this content is quite small, and therefore considered safe. If aspartame is being consumed through diet sodas, then that could be another cause for concern as they also contain high content of caffeine. High levels of caffeine may increase risks of miscarriages. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame side effects are stomach problems, migraine headaches, elevated blood pressure and weight gain. Some studies have also shown links between aspartame and conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, seizures and parkinson’s disease. The evidence claiming that aspartame is unsafe for pregnant women is not so significant in number. Even so, some still avoid it in preference for products and foods that are more natural and have less chemical content in them. Ultimately, the decision is a personal choice.