Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used to replace natural sugars in foods and drinks. Aspartame allergy occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to this ingredient, resulting in symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Aspartame allergy is diagnosed based on a person’s medical history, physical exam, and test results. Aspartame allergy may be considered in people who have symptoms after consuming products containing aspartame.
Additionally, people who believe they have an aspartame allergy may experience a food intolerance to this sweetener.
The aspartame controversy
Aspartame has been a controversial additive in the food supply for some time. It breaks down into byproducts that have known toxic consequences on health, including formaldehyde and methanol.
In the past, there have been intense consumer demands to either ban or add labeling of aspartame on food products so consumers can make informed decisions. In the United States, it was approved for use in 1981 by the FDA, despite concerns from some within the scientific community.
In 1996, a study published in “New England Journal of Medicine” identified a connection between consumption of aspartame and risk of developing certain types of brain tumors. However, researchers did not find a link between diet soda and other soda containing aspartame.
The FDA responded by commissioning an independent study, which did not show conclusive evidence to support the previous finding that led to concern about the widespread use of aspartame.
The current stance on aspartame is safe at the levels currently consumed in food products.
Products with aspartame
Whenever a new food or beverage sweetened with aspartame hits the shelves, several consumers report suffering a reaction. However, it is essential to note that products containing this ingredient may not always be identified on nutrition labels.
Frequently, people suffering from an allergy to this additive may not realize they are ingesting it. Many people do not realize the sheer number of products that contain aspartame. These include:
- Yogurt and yogurt drinks, such as soy yogurt and fruit yogurt
- Breakfast cereal and granola bars
- Cough drops
- Toothpaste, mouthwash, and chewing gum
As you can see from this list, many ostensibly “healthy” foods may contain aspartame. People with an allergy to this ingredient should avoid all of the above products, in addition to any other food or beverage containing it.
Aspartame side effects
In addition to aspartame allergy, this ingredient is also linked to side effects that do not necessarily fit into the definition of an allergic reaction.
These symptoms generally happen as a result of consuming too much aspartame in a short period and include:
When taken in large amounts, aspartame can cause some symptoms that resemble the symptoms of a headache. Migraine headaches are common among people who identify an allergy to this additive or who consume too much of it at one time.
When large amounts of aspartame are consumed, the resulting imbalance in the body can cause side effects, such as nausea.
Abdominal pains or cramps
Aspartame is a chemical similar to that produced in the human gastrointestinal tract. When consumed at very high levels, aspartame can result in powerful contractions or cramps within the bowel.
When too much aspartame has been consumed, it may sit undigested in the stomach before passing through the intestines. This can lead to several symptoms, including bloating and flatulence.
As with other symptoms related to aspartame consumption at high levels, diarrhea results from this chemical being passed too quickly through the body. In some cases, diarrhea may be severe enough for individuals to require medical intervention.
Flushing (reddening and warmth of the skin)
In some cases, an individual may experience a temporary reddening and warmth after consuming aspartame. This is a result of dilation of the blood vessels close to the skin’s surface.
Other symptoms include:
- Changes in vision
The effects of consuming aspartame vary from person to person. It is always best to limit your product intake, especially if you have a history of any of the above symptoms.
Who is likely to have an aspartame allergy?
It is difficult to say who will develop a reaction to this food additive. Some people seem more sensitive than others, but a definitive list of risk factors does not exist.
The only way to prevent an aspartame allergy is to avoid products with this ingredient. If you have a history of any of the symptoms noted above after consuming a product containing it, seek medical attention immediately.
Is Aspartame Poisoning Real?
Aspartame is one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives that the world has ever seen. It is safe for human consumption by regulatory bodies worldwide, and this was decided after reviewing data from more than 200 scientific studies.
In addition, aspartame is used in more than 6,000 products sold worldwide. According to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) survey, more than 70 million people consume products containing aspartame every day.
There are no well-known cases of actual documented evidence of Aspartame Poisoning. The EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has gone on record to say that there is no link between the consumption of aspartame and the development of cancer.
Natural alternatives to aspartame
Several natural alternatives to aspartame provide a good substitute for people with an allergy or intolerance to this ingredient. These include:
It is safe to consume a food or beverage sweetened with sucralose instead in many cases. This ingredient carries none of the dangerous side effects of aspartame, and it does not promote bacterial growth in the mouth.
Sucralose products are widely available. You can even purchase them at many local grocery stores.
Another advantage of sucralose is that it has a slightly less intense sweet flavor than aspartame. This makes it an ideal substitute in most recipes that call for artificial sweeteners.
If you are looking to replace another form of aspartame in your diet, consider erythritol. This is a sugar alcohol that has been hailed in recent years for its potential health benefits.
Erythritol is widely available in health food markets. You can also import it from various online stores if your local market does not have it in stock.
Other natural alternatives to this artificial sweetener exist, including stevia and monk fruit. These are gaining popularity in recent years due to their taste profiles. If you are trying to limit your intake of aspartame in your diet, consider consulting with a nutritionist or physician before making changes.
Due to the high number of possible symptoms caused by an allergy or intolerance to this food additive, it is essential to consider how you could replace it in your diet.
Aspartame (E951) is an artificial sweetener used as a food additive. It is sold under the brand names NutraSweet and Equal, among others. Aspartame is a methyl ester of the dipeptide of the natural amino acids L -aspartic acid and L -phenylalanine.
Under strongly acidic or alkaline conditions, aspartame may generate methanol by hydrolysis. Under more severe conditions, the peptide bonds are also hydrolyzed, resulting in free amino acids.
Although Aspartame is safe for human consumption, some people seem more sensitive than others. If you have a history of any of the symptoms noted above after consuming a product containing it, seek medical attention immediately.