Artificial sweeteners-A A +A
To Your Health
Friday, February 8, 2013
A FEW years back, a very popular artificial sweetener was withdrawn from the market because of its alleged carcinogenic effect, increasing the incidence of cancer of the urinary bladder in rats. A certain paranoia pervaded the medical community so, it took a long while before another artificial sweetener came into public consumption.
Aspartame, the new kid in the block, so to speak, became an instant hit. The manufacturer trumpeted its 100 times sweeter than sugar ability, plus the reassuring fact that it is not based on sugar- as the previously used sweetener was, thus deemed to be safer, and most of all, made the diabetics all over the world convulsing with joy because it is low-calorie and therefore does not shoot their blood sugar sky-high. Joining the welcoming celebration are people who have destroyed many weighing scales because of their excess tonnage, with every spring and screw popping out every time, their weary feet carrying those unwanted pounds, touches the helpless weighing machine
Aspartame is derived from the combination of two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Phenylalanine is one of the so-called essential or indispensable amino acids, that is, they must be provided for in our food because the human body is unable to make or manufacture them. aspartic acid on the other hand is a non-essential or dispensable amino acid, easily made inside the body.
Just like the first artificial sweetener, Aspartame has had its share of navigating turbulent waters. Just a few years after its approval and introduction to the public, an outrageous email circulated claiming that aspartame was "toxic to humans in a hundred different ways." Coming to the defense of Aspartame, naturally are the makers of Nutrasweet and Equal, who declared categorically that since 1965, aspartame has been studied extensively, resulting in an impressive collection of scientific data. With approximately 200 studies in animals and humans, the safety of aspartame has been well established and that its use has not been associated with any adverse health effects.
Aspartame is now very much part and parcel of our daily life. It is present in chewing gums, dry mixes for gelatins, puddings, beverages, cola drinks, dairy toppings, ready-to-eat cereals, fruit juices, chewable vitamins, yogurts and jums. Even some breath mints have it. And don’t forget the hard candies.
Be careful however, if you have phenylketonuria or PKU, admittedly the most common inborn error of protein metabolism. Patients with PKU does not have the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase leading to an accumulation of unwanted metabolites and products, which unfortunately have a selective destructive effect on brain cells, leading to mental retardation. That' why every sachet of Equal or container of Nutrasweet contains that warning for people diagnosed with PKU. Otherwise, aspartame is good for most of us.
Now, now, do I hear diabetics and slimmers singing, "This time I'll be sweeter?"
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 09, 2013.