The word is slowly but surely getting out that sugar kills. So it’s no secret that artificial sweeteners have now become the next bane of my existence…
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a total killjoy when it comes to sweets—and I do understand the value of sugar substitutes as an occasional treat. But I also understand that most of the all-natural sweeteners I recommend aren’t as popular or user-friendly, for food manufacturers in particular.
Still, it’s way past time they found a way to make those healthier sweeteners work. Because artificial sweeteners simply aren’t safe alternatives to sugar, no matter how badly the food industry wants you to believe otherwise.
New doubts over an old decision
Today, let’s take a look at the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) recent assessment of the artificial sweetener aspartame. Because in a page right out of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) playbook, it appears as though they’ve issued some questionable findings.
Back in 2013, the EFSA stated that aspartame and its breakdown products were perfectly safe for everyone—infants, children, and pregnant women included. They offered a safe daily dose of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
Problem is, investigators have recently gone back and reappraised this original report. And they found that aspartame may not actually be as safe as the agency originally suggested. (A real shocker, I know!)
This latest study combed through all 154 studies that the EFSA used to draw their conclusions—and it identified some glaring problems.
Of these studies, 73—yes, that’s nearly half—found aspartame to be potentially harmful. Of course, the EFSA brushed those off as unconvincing. But researchers from the University of Sussex disagree—asserting that many of them were more reliable than the studies supporting the sweetener’s safety.
And that’s not all. They also found the EFSA panel’s standards for proof of safety to be remarkably low—with their decision having factored in results from research deemed (and I quote) “worthless” and “woefully inadequate.”
They even go so far as to say the recommendation should be retracted—thus banning the use of aspartame in the European Union and the United Kingdom until authorities can assess the evidence properly.
Diabetes fuel in disguise
In typical fashion, all of the EFSA’s meetings happened behind closed doors. So it’s impossible to rule out the influence of commercial interests when it came time to issue a decision on aspartame.
(And we thought this brand of corporate bribery only happened in the U.S.?! Well clearly, greed knows no borders.)
Aspartame is one of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners. Not to mention, it’s a staple ingredient in diet soda and other sugar-free confections, from coffee to candy. As such, it’s a go-to for people with blood sugar problems—however misguided.
Here in the U.S., aspartame is one of six “high intensity sweeteners” approved for unrestricted use, according to the FDA. And yes, that’s despite a whole mess of reasonable indications that maybe it shouldn’t be.
For one thing, we know that artificial sweeteners have a lot of the same ill effects on metabolic heath that sugar does, which defeats the purpose of using them entirely. Not only that, but they keep users hooked on sweetness, as opposed to allowing their palate to re-adjust to a new, sugar-free normal.
In other words, aspartame and its ilk are fuel for the diabesity epidemic, too—and perhaps even more dangerous for the misleadingly “diet-friendly” disguise.
As I said above—I’m not going to deprive my patients (or myself) of the occasional treat. But if you’re going to use a sugar substitute, stick with one that’s actually safe, like stevia.
P.S. For a deeper look into which sugar substitutes you should and shouldn’t use, take a look at the October 2011 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“The skinny on sweeteners”). Not yet a subscriber? All it takes is one click! Subscribers have access to this and all of my past content in the archives. So don’t wait another moment… click here to sign up today!
“Has safety commission misled the public about aspartame?” Medical News Today, 07/24/2019. (medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325848.php)