Chances are high that you have several foods or beverages in your pantry and refrigerator that contain the sweetener aspartame. Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981, aspartame can be found in approximately 6,000 foods as an artificial sweetener. Unfortunately, a lot of controversy surrounds the additive, leaving many medical professionals and health food experts alike claiming that aspartame allergy or aspartame toxicity truly exists.
Most of the controversy surrounds the chemicals that aspartame breaks down into when digested, which includes methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Methanol breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde and is a carcinogen and some claim, is “neurotoxic.” Aspartic acid has been shown in some studies to cause hormonal disorders, headaches, nausea and anxiety disorders. Those who have PKU, or Phenylketonuria, cannot metabolize the phenylalanine, which may result in toxic levels in the body.
Many of those who believe in an aspartame allergy claim that the additive should have never been approved by the FDA, and have claimed that conflicts of interest interfered with a process that should’ve been based on science, and not profits. FDA officials, after completing an internal investigation, claim that the process was handled correctly, and that there are currently no conclusive scientific studies that prove that aspartame is dangerous to humans.
Although the FDA stands by the safety of aspartame, in 1995, Thomas Wilcox, Epidemiology Branch Chief of the FDA issued a report that 75% of reports of reactions to ingredients in food were due to aspartame from 1981 to 1995. In 1992, the US Air Force recommended against drinking beverages containing aspartame before flying to their pilots.
To date, there are 92 reported symptoms of aspartame allergy, from a variety of sources. While many of these claims are anecdotal, many medical doctors and health professionals have seen cases of aspartame allergy that have been resolved after removing it from the diet.
The difficult aspect of aspartame allergy is that it is not universally accepted by the medical community as even truly existing. Couple this with the fact that people who suffer from aspartame allergy may have dramatically different symptoms, diagnosing the sensitivity may be nearly impossible and more of a process of elimination than any other thing.
The following are common symptoms of aspartame allergy:
- Headaches and Migraines
- Menstrual disorders
- Weight Gain
- Anxiety attacks
The following are diseases that are often mimicked or triggered by aspartame allergy:
- Epstein Barr
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Lyme Disease
- Graves’ Disease
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Bladder Cancer
- Parkinson’s Disease
It is not known if aspartame allergy is caused by long term use, or can cause reactions with short term use. A person’s sensitivity to aspartame is difficult to determine, and can vary from person to person. Even if you suspect that any medical symptoms you are having are related to an aspartame allergy, you should consult a doctor to rule out illness caused by other disease or factors.