Imagine this commonplace scenario: a young parent, seeking refreshment during a long day of air travel, enters an airport gift shop to buy a pack of gum. Having been raised a health-conscious individual, he elects the ‘sugar free’ option to reduce the risk to his heart. However, as he is in a hurry, he neglects to read the list of ingredients, and as he chews happily over the course of his flight, has no idea that a dangerous poison is spreading through his system – aspartame.
Marketed under such brand names as NutraSweet, Equal and Spoonful, aspartame is solely responsible for 75% of all adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA, and is classified as a “chemical poison” in James and Phyllis Balch’s book Prescription for Nutritional Healing. The discovery of aspartame was accidental, occurring in 1965 when chemist James Schlatter was experimenting with an anti-ulcer drug.
Today, aspartame can be found hiding within many foods labeled as ‘sugar free’ and often makes a quiet appearance in unexpected foods such as yogurts, cooking sauces and potato chips. Many popular gum brands, including Bubblicious, Dentyne, Eclipse, Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s, use aspartame as a sweetener.
Aspartame consists of three separate chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. Aspartic acid is a free excitatory amino acid which has been linked in excess doses to neurological conditions. Similarly, Phenylalanine has been linked to seizures and schizophrenia, and methanol is a wood alcohol that breaks down into formaldehyde inside the human body. Together, these chemicals combine to form one deadly substance, with reported symptoms including migraines, muscle spasms, heart palpitations, anxiety attacks, and slurred speech, to name only a few. Studies have also shown that chronic conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, brain tumors and Alzheimer’s disease can be triggered or significantly worsened by aspartame ingestion.
So, next time you make a quick stop for a pack of gum or some other snack, take a moment to check the list of ingredients. When this is not an option, such as at a restaurant, choose ‘low sugar’ over ‘sugar free’ every time. There are also many organic, naturally sweetened gum options worth exploring if you take a moment to look. When it comes to chemical sweeteners such as aspartame, it’s just not worth the risk.
Have you ever read the ingredients on a gum package before? Did you even know some gums contained aspartame?
- The Alternative Daily