Aspartame is an artificial sweetener otherwise known by their brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It’s used in place of sugar and can also be found in products like yogurts puddings and carbonated beverages. But as you may have already heard, it has some pretty unhealthy effects that could actually be more damaging than sugar.

It was discovered by accident in 1965 when chemist James Schlatter of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug. It was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. It was originally approved for dry goods in 1974, but objections filed by neuroscience researcher Dr. John W. Olney and consumer attorney James Turner, as well as investigations of G.D. Searle’s research practices caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put approval of aspartame on hold. Unfortunately, it was later approved and became a popular sugar substitute marketed as a healthier alternative to sugar.

There is a laundry list of side effects to regular use of aspartame products such as headaches, seizures, dizziness, muscle spasms, nausea, depression, slurred speech, anxiety attacks, vertigo, insomnia, breathing difficulties, hearing loss, fatigue, loss of taste, vision problems, tachycardia, irritability, heart palpitations, memory loss, tinnitus, numbness, weight gain and rashes.

It is also known to worsen illnesses such as brain tumors, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, lymphoma, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia. It can also cause birth defects.
Aspartame contains 40 percent aspartic acid and excess free excitatory amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid (about 99 percent of monosodium glutamate or MSG is glutamic acid) in our food supply are can cause serious chronic neurological disorders and a myriad of other acute symptoms.

Too much aspartate or glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is why they are referred to as “excitotoxins” because they stimulate the neural cells to death.

Aspartic acid is an amino acid and taken in its free form (unbound to proteins), it significantly raises the blood plasma level of aspartate and glutamate. The excess levels in the blood plasma shortly after ingesting aspartame or products with free glutamic acid (glutamate precursor) can lead to a high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain. The excess glutamate and aspartate slowly begin to destroy neurons and unfortunately 75 percent or more of neural cells in a particular area of the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. Some chronic illnesses that have been shown to be contributed to by long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include: ALS, Alzheimer’s, MS, AIDS, dementia and brain lesions.

Aspartame in diet sodas, or aspartame in other liquid form are absorbed more quickly and have been shown to spike plasma levels of aspartic acid. There is no need to panic if you’ve just discovered this is an ingredient in a yogurt you just ate but it is definitely not a healthy alternative and can actually be very harmful to your health. You may want to add this to the “avoid” list just to be safe.