Friday, May 17, 2013

Why I gave up Aspartame

I haven't blogged in forever, and would love to get back to it at least weekly.  While getting ready for the day I was wondering what should I write about?  Probably the most significant change in our family's life lately has been the way we have changed what we are eating.  

As a family we have switched from eating your typical American diet of highly processed foods and sodas, to a mostly organic and whole foods diet. If you are confused by what a "whole food" diet is, don't fret, I was too at first. The easiest way to describe it is, foods that either don't need a label, because they only contain one thing, or things that are made up of ingredients that are one food items.  In other words, I would buy something that had wheat, eggs, water, and salt.  But not something that had a bunch of names on the label I can't even pronounce.  FOOD, like eggs or an apple don't need labeling.  PRODUCTS do.  Do we occasionally have a bag of Doritos or a candy bar?  Of course, but it is truly a rare occasion now.  

The most difficult thing for me to give up was Aspartame.  That may sound strange to some, but it has pretty much been a staple in my diet since childhood. By the time I was a teenager I was an everyday diet soda drinker.  I always used aspartame in my coffee, and things like gum (even ones that don't say sugar free) were routinely being consumed by our entire family.

If you know me well, you know that coffee and diet soda were a main staple in my diet.  I still drink coffee, but I haven't quite figured out how to enjoy it yet. It's a work in progress... After years of using Aspartame (the little blue packets that are in every coffee shop in America) and cream, I am currently trying to figure out how to enjoy it black.  

At first I tried sugar (raw with the cane juice still in it) and cream.  It was alright but it didn't satisfy me the way Aspartame did.  Not to mention the extra calories I am now consuming isn't doing a whole lot for my waist line.  I haven't had a Diet Coke since January, and it bothered me at first, but not the same way not having my favorite sweetener in my coffee bothers me.

Let me explain what my old habits were like.  I would wake up, make a pot of coffee, and during the morning I would finish the entire pot myself.  Each cup would have a little blue packet in it.  By noon I would switch to peach iced tea (the one that comes in a little tub of powder that you mix with water).  I am not going to mention brand names here, but you know the ones I am talking about.  They are also LOADED with Aspartame.  If I got tired of that and I wanted something fizzy to drink I would pour myself a glass of diet soda.  I rarely ever drank water.

I was drinking the stuff all day long.  From the time I woke up in the morning to the time I went to bed at night.  I didn't even give it a second thought until the last four years or so. 

In the last four years I have been diagnosed with Grave's disease, I had a stroke, I am in constant and persistent pain, and the doctors know there is some other autoimmune disorder plaguing me but they are unsure if it is Lupus or RA, more follow up and testing is needed. I have a hard time concentrating and have what I like to call "brain fog".  

My friend Melody kept telling me that Aspartame causes inflammation, and it's not that I didn't believe her, it's just that I didn't realize just how BAD the stuff truly is.  Then I watched a few documentaries that changed my life, and I did a lot of research of my own on the internet.  I was blown away at how many of the symptoms that I had been dealing with were commonly associated with Aspartame consumption.

Since giving up Aspartame altogether I feel a lot better than I had.  I still have some issues, but I am sure that is to be expected from someone who already had their thyroid destroyed and had a previous stroke. :) I can't help but wonder how many of the symptoms I was experiencing leading up to my diagnosis were Aspartame related?  But what's done is done. 

There is a lot of controversy surrounding Aspartame and it's safety for consumption.  But lets go over some simple FACTS about Aspartame and it's origins and how it was deemed safe for humans to consume.

Wikipedia states that Aspartame's original intent was as an anti-ulcer drug, that the inventor accidentally licked his finger and then realized it was sweet. Others say it was created as a pesticide and when it clearly didn't work as that, it was then marketed as a sweetener.  Either way it is not being marketed for it's original intent.  Not that this is an issue in and of it's self, but it was created by big pharma company, G.D. Searle. They are now owned by none other than Monsanto.  This should be enough to make you question it's safety.  Since Monsanto and our Federal Government are KNOWN for their revolving door politics. 

 If you don't already know, Monsanto is the creator of DDT: AKA Agent Orange. They currently lead the market on GMO's Genetically Modified Oraganisms (round up ready seed), creator of Round up, rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), and were the largest manufactures of PCB's until 1977. 

In the end I was convinced that Aspartame shouldn't be part of my or my family's diet.  This sounds easy enough, but you would be shocked at how many products contain Aspartame without even realizing it.  I mentioned previously chewing gum, but did you know that brands like Big League Chew have Aspartame in them?  In actuality there is virtually NO aspartame free gum on the market.  Yogurt, Candy, Cereal, Condiments, Soda, drink powders, anything labeled Sugar Free, are all common foods that contain Aspartame.  Reading labels is a MUST if you want to avoid Aspertame.  

It has been almost 6 months since I have had a "diet" coke, or aspartame in my coffee.  I now drink a lot more water than I ever used to. Unsweetened Tea (particularly green tea) are a staple in my diet, and I am currently working on drinking my coffee black. I feel much better.  The brain fog has been lifting, and I have way fewer days of joint pain and inflammation, most notably in my hands.  If you are a diet and sugar free consumer, I urge you to do some research and learn more about Aspartame, and anything else artificial you are consuming.  

Here are some of the most common symptoms of aspartame consumption: 
headaches, nausea, vertigo, insomnia, numbness, blurred vision, blindness and other eye problems, memory loss, slurred speech, depression, personality changes, hyperactivity, stomach disorders, seizures, skin lesions, rashes, anxiety attacks, muscle cramping and joint pain, loss of energy, symptoms mimicking heart attacks, hearing loss and ear ringing, and loss or change of taste.

There is a complete list of 92 symptoms and disease associated with  Also you might want to read what Dr. Mercola has to say about aspartame here.  


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