How do you decide between food and drinks that contain sugar (or worse - high fructose corn syrup) which can contribute to weight gain, spikes in blood glucose and insulin, and a crash that usually follows, or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (e.g., NutraSweet, Equal, etc.) which have no calories, but sometimes bring unbearable side effects and contribute to neurological damage? Seems like an impossible choice to make. It might help to have more information about the ingredients and effects of aspartame before you decide. The following is from an article by Dr. Mercola, author of one of the most informative free newsletters on natural health and alternatives
Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death. A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.
According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame: Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson's disease, alzheimer's, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.
Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. The book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition by James and Phyllis Balch, lists aspartame under the category of "chemical poison." As you shall see, that is exactly what it is.
My experience with this seemingly impossible choice has been to try to avoid both whenever possible. Following my last ankle surgery I gave up soda for 3 months (which is always of the diet variety for me) and I found that my arthritis symptoms and unexplained muscle pain was greatly reduced. So I now only choose to drink my diet Dr. Pepper on special occasions. I still struggle with the idea of swallowing sugary drinks and almost always opt for unsweetened. I actually enjoy tea and coffee without sweetener, so that really helps. And while there are other problems with carbonated beverages, I will drink sparkling water when I crave the bubbles.
It's not about being perfect. For me it's about being educated and making choices based on information, not advertisements.