By Hwaa Irfan
It came to attention, that quite a few young healthy looking women who pride themselves on their physical appearance and the skinny look use artificial sweeteners in their teas. The secretiveness behind it combined with observations made it apparent the extent to which they guarded their seemingly physical fitness when any small physical activity seemed to be too much. In the U.K.’s 2003 Food Standards Agency survey, it was found that children who had an average consumption of soft/soda drinks consumed up to 4.46 milligrams of artificial sweeteners aspartame, acesulfame K, saccharin, and cyclamate for each kilogram of bodyweight, and those who drank large quantities of soft/soda drinks consumed up to 14.07 mg/kg bw. The Accepted Daily Intake is 40 mg/kg bw, and less for those with Phenylketonuria.
For the physically inactive who are worried about their sugar consumption, but have a sweet tooth, the multi-national agro-pharmaceutical company Monsanto of Nutrasweet fame, came up with another sweetener to add to or replace previous artificial sweeteners quite recently. Neotame or E961 is 7,000 – 13, 000 times sweeter than normal sugar, and 55 times sweeter than its precursor, Aspartame according to the Food and Agricultural Organization’s, FAO, Chemical and Technical Assessment report .
Neotame is a chemical derivative of the ill-fated artificial sweetener, Aspartame or Nutrasweet, which got FDA (Food and Drugs Administration, U.S.) approval as far back as 1998, and according to the product website, neotame is the result of 20+ years research that:
“As the price of raw materials continues to rise, neotame offers manufacturers a unique solution to lower their ingredient costs.”
In the company’s 2008 fact sheet, customers and consumers are supposed to be comforted s they declare neotame to safe for public consumption, including children, pregnant and lactating women and those with diabetes based on their research on both animals and humans, as it can be “handled through normal body processes.”
Reducing costs, and making huge profits, Monsanto’s neotame is a derivative of aspartame, 3,3-dimethylbutyraldehyde, and also consists of phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol (food grade). It is also a food enhancer and has been present in some foods since 2002 like:
- Lemonade Powdered Soft Drink Mix
- Cola-Flavoured Carbonated Soft Drink
- Pasteurized Lemon Tea
- Fermented Milk Products (Strawberry Yogurt)
- Baked Goods (Yellow Cake)
Not long after neotame going on the market, alarm bells have been rung, probably because:
a) Everything that Monsanto produces is suspect
b) Aspartame is an ingredient
Focusing on the ingredients:
Aspartame does not have a very good track record as far as human health is concerned after being on the market for 25 years. Bearing in mind that up until 1994, aspartame was mostly available for sale in the U.S., and therefore many of the reported side effects are from the U.S. However, is on the basis of aspartame and aspartic acid being present in neotame that accusations are being made.
Accumulative evidence has shown aspartame to be toxic to the nervous and immune systems. In 2009, the Food Standards Agency began an investigation into aspartame on the basis of consumer reports to the side effects (headaches, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue), after passing it as safe along with the European Food Safety Authority.
Elsewhere, a body of evidence has proven
- Acute Toxicity within 48 hours following ingestion
- Chronic toxicity within days following ingestion
- Toxicity a consumer would not link to aspartame
Side Effects include:
- Eyes – reduced vision/blindness
- Ears – Noise intolerance, tinnitus, reduced hearing
- Chest – Palpitations, short breath, recent high blood pressure
- Gastro-intestinal – Nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, abdominal pains,
- Skin – Severe itching, hives,
- Endocrine + Metabolism – Aggravated diabetes, onset of clinical diabetes, changes in menses, cessation of periods, marked weight gain, thinning hair, aggravated hypoglycemia
- Neurological – headaches, ataxia, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, Paresthesias, Petit mal, tremors, slurred speech, severe hyperactivity
- Psychological – severe irritability/depression, anxiety attacks, insomnia, aggravated phobias
Then one can add to the above with the U.S. Air Force’s warnings to pilots about aspartame pertaining to seizures, vertigo, cumulative harmful effects and possibility of birth defects. There have been cases of misdiagnosis of aspartame related complaints including:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Mental retardation
- Birth defects
- Arthritis (including Rheumatoid)
- Chemical Sensitivities
- Attention Deficit Disorder
Like neotame, aspartame does go through the normal body processes, but it breaks down into its constituent parts aspartic acid, methanol, and phenylalanine.
Phenylalanine as nature intended is an amino acid required by the body in small amounts and we get this necessary building block for proteins from our foods. It helps to produce hormones like epinephrine, and norepinephrine, and thyroid hormones. When we are deficient in phenylalanine we are confused, lacking in energy, get depressed, are less alert, have memory problems, and have little or no appetite.
The natural form is L-phenylalanine. That found in aspartame and neotame is 1-L phenylalanine 1-methylester. L-phenylalanine is regarded as an impurity by the FAO 2004 Neotame – Chemical and Technical Assessment. It has been found that L-phenylalanine as a supplement/powder/cream aggravates vitiligo. In its unnatural state, phenylalanine has been known to cause emotional disorders, and depression by increasing the amount of serotonin, a hormone, in the brain.
Aspartic acid as the name indicates is a derivative of aspartame. It is known to kill nerve cells in the brain, particularly in children and the elderly.
N-(N-(3,3-dimethylbutyl-L-α-aspartyl is the chemical name of neotame, and guess what is listed on EPA’s most hazardous chemical list, 3-dimethylbutyl – a chemist can best explain the association!
This thought may be easier than it sounds as neotame is also registered and accepted by the FDA has a food enhancer – not just a sweetener. Typically, the standards set for organic foods is that there should be no synthetic additives, but all additives in the U.S. must be on the List of Approved and Prohibited Substances. Neotame is not on that list, so technically it cannot be added to organic foods – well that makes sense, BUT…
By the grace of USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) neotame became an additive that is allowed in organic foods – that is non-certified organic foods since 2002! Approved by the FDA, who else, with food labelling requirements found not to be essential for USDA certified organic foods containing neotame, and certified kosher foods with the letter ‘k’!
The Sugar Crave
If one is really get anxious about the artificial sweetener one has been taking, the valuable energy lost over what artificial sweetener could be avoided by going back to basics. If one really finds that life is more interesting with a sweet diet, then it is time to a) replace all sugars with honey, and b) do what the body is designed to do, and that is to be physically active.
“It’s comforting”, “It makes me feel alive”, “… feel comforted”, “…something to look forward to” – these are a few of the reasons why when asked individuals have to get their sugar fix – yes fix, which makes it an addiction… a legal addiction!
Every now and again, there comes along a phase in our lives whereby our habits reflect what is missing in our lives. During the Romantic period of… the longing for utopia, or more accurately undefined was a strong whisper that echoes in the minds of the artistically minded. The manifestation of that unrequited longing was tuberculosis, a deadly illness at the time. This is echoed in the homeopathic remedy, tuberculinum, which as a constitutional remedy is required by those who are always on the move, always looking to be entertained, always looking for that unrequited, undefined longing.
In homeopathy the remedies used are character types. For those who have a sugar craving, the sugar is considered as an emotional prop. The types in classical homeopathy who have sugar cravings are those who are struggling against an external problem, but with a tinge of optimism. Examples include:
Type: Calcarea – The practical nurturer who is overwhelmed by responsibilities that are more than they can bear. They feels insecure if they experience any form of rejection or separation.
Type: Kali Carbonatum – The control who is a firm believer in rules, regulations, and fulfilling one’s duty, and fears anything outside of their control. Without a life regulated by rules all sense is lost, and feels burdened and unable without these emotional props.
Type: Lycopodium – Is an archetypal diplomat who is adaptable, and has high self esteem. They love to be flattered, and like to appear knowledgeable in order to hide their inner tension between ambition and uncertainty. When stressed they become very distrustful and distant on both the intellectual and emotional level.
Type: Sulphur – The ‘ragged philosopher/idealist who gives out more energy than they are able to sustain. Their intellect can set them apart losing the connection with others that we all need. They become detached losing nervous energy on one level, preferring the intellect as others are unable to meet up to their expectations as they go deeper as they struggle with their ideals vs. A need for security from their loved ones
Type: Argentum Nitricum – Warm-blooded emotional people who have an uncontrolled nervous excitement about most things. They can react to almost anything losing sense of their own identity, and as such fear losing self control.
These are just some of the sugar craved homeopathic types whose sugar fix can be linked to what is missing in their lives. It isn’t called comfort eating for nothing!
Food Safety Standards. “Intense Sweeteners Survey: Your Questions Answered.” http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/faq/intense_sweeteners/
“Is Neotame a Neurotoxin Like Aspartame?” http://www.holisticmed.com/neotame/toxin.html
Kuznesof, E.Neotame – Chemical and Technical Assessment, 2004.
Goldie, G. “Reported Aspartime Toxic Effects.” http://www.health-report.co.uk/aspartame-toxic-effects.htm
Mercola. “The Newest Dangerous Sweetener to Hit Your Food Shelves.” http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/08/neotame-receives-fda-approval-but-is-not-widely-used-yet.aspx
Sample, I. “Sweeteners Aspartame to Be Investigated for Possible Side Effects.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/sep/23/sweetener-aspartame-side-effects
“Stoddard, M. “Monsanto’s Neotame Molecule Allowed in USDA Certified Organic Foods.” http://beforeitsnews.com/story/324/431/Monsanto_s_Neotame_molecule_allowed_in_USDA_certified_organic_foods.html