Opinion

Sweet Deception by Sandra Enyida

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In the course of time, as the dangers of a sugar-filled diet became exposed by research and science, the ‘sweet tooths’ mourned. They could find no reason to indulge anymore. Isn’t it about the empty calories sugar has? These calories that give our bodies nothing but make us fat. Alas! No one can act oblivious anymore. The information is everywhere.

Then, just like that, artificial chemical-based sweeteners came to save the day! No calories, but several times sweeter than sugar. Isn’t that great news for the ‘sweet tooths’? The food industry wasted no time in putting it in everything edible, from chewing gum to yoghurt to even chewable vitamins. Lots of money and incentives were given to the media to make these sweeteners look like the best alternatives to sugar. After all, the calories were the only problem, right?

WRONG.

Artificial sweeteners, chief of them Aspartame, are lab-made and chemical-based, first tip to the lurking danger. They came into the market without adequate tests for long term safety and amidst lots of controversy due to lobbying by the food industry. This is another tip the use of these sweeteners is not in your best interest, it’s all about the profit margin because real cane sugar is more expensive.

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SO WHAT’S THE DANGER IN USING THESE SWEETENERS?

The danger lurking in these sweeteners is not just in their constituents. It’s more in the toxins released when your body is trying to digest these sweeteners within food.

For example, aspartame contains 10% methanol(wood alcohol). One of its key breakdown products is formaldehyde! This chemical accumulates in your cells and has health consequences. Formaldehyde, also found in paint remover and fluid used to preserve dead bodies, is a poison that can increase your risk of cancer. Research has shown no known ‘safe’ level for these chemicals in the body.

Methanol is found in naturally occurring foods, but the difference is methanol in them is bound to other compounds that prevent the body from breaking down the methanol into dangerous toxins. Herein lies one key difference between natural and lab-made products.

Another key component of aspartame is phenylalanine, comprising 50% of the chemical. It’s an amino acid(a component of protein) and on the surface may look harmless(even I was deceived). For the following reasons, it’s unsafe:

  • The body finds it difficult to use these chemicals in their ‘free state’. Amino acids gotten from food as proteins are better utilized by our bodies.
  • Stored at warm temperature for any length of time, phenylalanine slowly turns to a known carcinogen.
  • Phenylalanine is used by your body to produce brain chemicals that regulate brain activity. Flooding your system with lots of phenylalanine from a diet high in aspartame causes an imbalance in these brain chemicals, favouring increased ‘excitability’. This leads to headaches, anxiety, and tremor(hands shaky even at rest).
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