Since my initial post on giving up artificial sweeteners, there’s been a lot more to cover on the topic. I am happy to report that since that first post a nice handful of people have told me they’re also giving it up, and I successfully survived partying, my birthday, shopping, Christmas, working, traveling, and normal life without my beloved Diet Mountain Dew. Although giving it up has been miserable, my head is clearer than it’s ever been, my energy is finally back to normal, and I’ve discovered that if you drink enough unsweetened green tea you will get high as a kite.
So, these last few weeks, in addition to being a festive-holiday-disaster and detoxing from 15 years of ungodly amounts of diet sodas, I’ve been busy researching more about artificial sweeteners in an effort to boost my resolve and stick to the program (so far, it’s been working). Over this time I got in touch with Dr. Betty Martini, who has been amazingly supportive and informative during this process. On day 3 without diet mountain dew she responded to my pathetic, miserable e-mail, and then during week 2 (once my head was back on straight) agreed to answer some questions for the blog (to read the full interview, click here).
And now, without further ado, here are the big things I’ve learned since the one big moment that I asked the big question, Are Diet Sodas Going to Kill Me?
1. Diet sodas will make you fat.
Weight wasn’t really a focus I had when I gave up artificial sweeteners. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised when over Christmas my sweet tooth was dramatically more sensitive (and thus, easily satiated) than ever before. Perhaps even more significantly, while researching for a post I wrote on the women’s site Allwomenstalk.com - 7 Ways to Blow Your Diet Without Even Realizing It - I learned that “synthetic sweeteners include sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, which can hinder digestion, cause bloating, and prevent fat burning” (simplyshredded.com). Further, drinking diet sodas has been linked to obesity and weight gain in more studies than I want to count, a correlation that has been attributed to 1) the high sugar tolerance diet sodas create since they’re a thousand times sweeter than anything found in nature, 2) the chemicals in them (of which there are many), and/or 3) personality factors (i.e. someone that is attracted to the idea of diet soda might be a less-healthy individual, or bigger eater, or a yo-yo dieter in the first place). According to Dr. Martini, individuals gain weight when drinking diet sodas because they make you crave carbohydrates. Being awake seems to make me crave carbohydrates, but that’s besides the point. Either way, I don’t want to be in the obesity-correlated camp. Not even a little bit.
2. Aspartame breaks down into poison. Literally, poison.
As Dr. Martini explained to me during our interview:
Aspartame is a molecule composed of three ingredients -
1. A methyl ester – 10% by weight, which immediately becomes free methyl alcohol, converts to formaldehyde and formic acid and causes metabolic acidosis (Jen’s note: this means it turns into poison – formaldehyde is 1000 times as poisonous as alcohol)
2. Aspartic acid - 40%, an excitotoxin (product that stimulates the neurons of the brain to death causing brain damage)
3. Phenylalanine – 50%, which also as an isolate is a neurotoxin, floods the brain, lowers the seizure threshold and depletes serotonin triggering psychiatric and behavioral problems and interacting with all antidepressants. The molecule breaks down to diketopiperazine, a brain tumor agent.
“Most people when asked how Aspartame is made do not have the first step of understanding. While an E.R. doctor and primary care physician in Augusta, GA in 1987 and 1988, I was told a number of interesting facts about the adjacent Aspartame factory. Bacteria with genes inserted generate a sludge which is centrifuged to remove the aspartame and many hundreds of contaminant organic and amino acids are present. We were told not to report illness or worker’s compensation issues for fear of being fired by the hospital, now the Augusta Regional Medical Center. Many of their employees presented with psychiatric, neuropathy conditions, chronic fatigue and organic cases of loss of cognitive function. This powder from the dried sludge was then transported for packaging in factories elsewhere in the US, before sale as Equal and now the myriad of names of this neurotoxin.” - Dr. Bill Deagle
3. At one time aspartame was listed with the pentagon in an inventory of prospective biochemical warfare weapons submitted to Congress.
(Read the full article by Alex Constantine)
4. It puts holes in your brain.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any brain cells to spare around here. Unfortunately for me, then, the aspartic acid in aspartame is classified as an excitotoxin, which, when even slightly over-concentrated in the brain, will cause brain cells to get over-excited and die. In the online documentary Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World, it’s explained that excitotoxins are excitatory amino acids, one of the few chemicals that can break through the blood/brain barrier. With that defense down, the brain is impacted by chemicals in the aspartame like phenylalinine, which create mood and panic symptoms and lower seizure thresholds. Further, the damaging of neurons is thought to potentially lead to severe disorders like Parkinson’s disease, memory loss, and other neurological problems.
5. It’s a carcinogen.
Yes, diet coke can give you cancer.
With time, aspartame breaks down in diketopiperazine – a carcinogen. As if one carcinogen isn’t enough, it also breaks down into formaldehyde – which, in addition to being extremely poisonous, is also a carcinogen. In addition to being a carcinogen, formaldehyde is embalming fluid (yes, what we use on dead people) so it creates a cumulative effect in the body – it literally will not go anywhere.
6. You could go crazy.
Excessive amounts of phenylaline in the brain can cause depression or schizophrenia. Add that to the neurological damage, and you could become a real basket-case very quickly.
7. It’s addictive.
And not just for that amazing, oh-so-sweet and calorie free taste. Actually, as Dr. Martini explains, “the free methyl alcohol is classified as a narcotic, causes chronic methanol poisoning, affects the dopamine system of the brain, and causes addiction. Some people have said its harder to get off aspartame than cocaine.”
In sum, according to Dr. Martini, “aspartame is not an additive but an addictive, excitoneurotoxic, carcinogenic, genetically engineered drug that damages the mitochondria or powerhouse of the cell and interacts with drugs and vaccines….. The FDA lists 92 symptoms, including death, from aspartame. In a nutshell, it destroys the immune system, central nervous system, the brain and the optic nerve, and ravages every organ in the body.”