Posted By: CustomVite Nutrition Team Date: September 18, 2017 Comments: 0
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener found in various processed food products and artificial sweetener brands, like Equal and Nutrasweet. Believe it or not, it’s nearly two hundred times sweeter than regular sugar! Therefore, smaller amounts of it are needed to sweeten foods. We often seen aspartame in the following food products:
- Diet foods
- Instant breakfasts
- Breath mints
- Sugar-free chewing gums
- Cocoa mixes
- Coffee and Tea beverages
- Frozen desserts
- Gelatin desserts
- Juice beverages
- Milk drinks
- Non-prescription pharmaceuticals
- Shake mixes
- Soft drinks
- Tabletop sweeteners
- Wine coolers
Before jumping to any conclusions, it’s important to understand the biochemical pathway of aspartame in your body. As aspartame begins its digestion process, it breaks down into phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. Consumers with an inherited disorder called phenylketonuria, PKU*, are unable to convert the amino acid phenylalanine into tyrosine because they lack a certain enzyme. As a result, phenylalanine, one of the three by-products of aspartame digestion, accumulates at high levels, which can be toxic to the body. Consequently, individuals with this disorder should definitely avoid aspartame, but for the rest of the population, research has shown that it is almost 100% impossible for someone to consume enough aspartame in order to raise the levels of its by-products to dangerous, toxic levels. However, this doesn’t at all imply that you should eat as much aspartame as you want, because a diet rich in fresh fruits and juices, natural ingredients, and minimal additives is always the most beneficial. Having small amounts of aspartame as a sugar substitute or if it’s an ingredient in some of your favorite snacks or drinks shouldn’t be of great concern if you don’t have PKU or any aspartame sensitivities. It’s always best to aim for a diet and lifestyle that emphasizes whole living and nutritious choices, so with more options available to us, we should always aim to make smart food choices as often as we can.
*PKU testing is a requirement for all newborns in the US as part of the newborn screening panel. This condition is easily detected with a simple blood test.
1) Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Nutritional Healing: a Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements. Penguin, 2011.
2) Phenylketonuria (PKU) Overview. N.D. Retrieved from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pku/Pages/default.aspx