Another study proves that artificial sweeteners like aspartame are harmful to your health. The study, which was published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, has revealed that aspartame damages the brain. In particular, consuming this chemical sweetener for a long time will increase oxidative stress in the brain tissue and will disrupt neurotransmitters that are important in physiological functions.
Researchers from King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia examined the effect of aspartame consumption on neurotransmitters and oxidative stress in the brain of rats. For the study, they observed four groups of rats. One group served as the control group, while the other three groups received aspartame at a dose of 50, 75, and 125 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) body weight per day, respectively, for 40 days.
The researchers then collected blood and brain samples after 10, 20, 30, and 40 days from the beginning of the experiment for biochemical analysis. The results showed that the consumption of aspartame reduced the antioxidant activities of glutathione and superoxide dismutase, and elevated oxidative stress by increasing malondialdehyde levels. In addition, aspartame consumption greatly reduced the levels of the brain neurotransmitters serotonin, GABA, and dopamine and increased the level of acetylcholine and norepinephrine. The effect of aspartame is dose-dependent.
The researchers concluded that long-term aspartame consumption damages brain function by increasing oxidative stress in brain tissue and disrupting neurotransmitters.
The dangers of aspartame
Aspartame is one of the most common artificial sweeteners used today. It is widely consumed by people with diabetes and those who are trying to manage their weight because it is marketed to be a “low-calorie” sugar substitute. Despite its popularity, it has been extensively studied to be harmful to one’s health. The artificial sweetener, which is sold under the brand names Equal and NutraSweet, is associated with at least 90 adverse symptoms, such as depression, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, memory loss, and weight gain. (Related: Aspartame’s neurological side effects include blurred vision, headaches, seizures and more.)
Aspartame is commonly found in diet sodas, which are associated with an increased risk of various diseases. Research has found that diet sodas increase the risk of the following health problems:
- Diabetes: In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers found that diet sodas alter the microbes in the gut in a way that raises the risk of diabetes. Additionally, researchers at Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel discovered that mice fed with artificial sweeteners developed glucose intolerance. In people who regularly consumed aspartame and other artificial sweeteners like saccharin, they found that these people had increased hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a measure of blood sugar. Drinking one diet soda every day also increased the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes by 36 percent, according to a study conducted at the University of Minnesota.
- Heart disease: Long-term consumption of diet soda also harms the heart. A study conducted by Columbia University and the University of Miami researchers revealed that consuming one diet soda every day for 10 years raised the risk of heart attack and stroke by 43 percent.
- Obesity: Drinking diet soda also increases the risk of being overweight compared to drinking regular sugary sodas, according to a study at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Every diet soda can you drink increases your risk of being obese by 41 percent. Furthermore, those who consumed more than one diet soda a day were more likely to be obese by 500 percent.
- Other diseases: Aspartame intake can also cause or worsen chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and agencies in Europe, Canada, and many other countries still insist aspartame is safe for consumption. Authorities like the World Health Organization, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, American Heart Association, and American Dietetic Association likewise endorse it.
Read more news stories and studies on the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners by going to Sweeteners.news.