Aspartame: Understanding the Impact and Finally Unveiling the Truth

As a health practitioner, it is crucial to understand the harmful effects of aspartame. Despite the occasional frustration in conveying this message to sceptics, I have personally strived to eliminate aspartame from my diet for the past two decades. Once we delve into the science and uncover the truth, it becomes challenging to ignore or unlearn what we have discovered.

Finally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised and publicly informed us about the risks associated with consuming aspartame, leading more people to pay attention. It’s truly mind-boggling to consider what other revelations may come next! However, one of the most distressing aspects is that aspartame is hidden in numerous food items consumed unnecessarily by our children on a daily basis.

Within the NHS, there is a push for patients to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, creating a source of profound concern for me. It raises questions as to why we are promoting the consumption of something artificial, potentially misleading people into believing it is safe. Another worry that I have noticed is that patients, under the assumption that diet drinks are healthier, end up consuming them in greater quantities than ever before. Although we may say, “We’ve only recently come to this realisation since the WHO released their research,” the truth is that scientific evidence supporting this has been available for quite some time.

Back in 1974, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its first regulation permitting aspartame use as a tabletop sweetener, a sugar substitute for hot beverages, in cold breakfast cereals, as a sweetener and flavour enhancer for chewing gum, and as a base for instant coffee, tea, puddings, fillings, dairy products, and toppings.

In an analysis of studies used to promote aspartame’s safety, Erik Paul Millstone, emeritus professor of science policy and one of the UK’s leading independent scholars of food safety policy, found 90 percent of reassuring studies were funded by large chemical corporations that manufacture and sell aspartame. “There’s a pattern there that suggests the industry designs and conducts studies that provide reassuring evidence. I saw that as an expression of a very profound and very dangerous bias,” Millstone said during a 2023 interview with BBC Panorama. – June 30, 2023 (Megan Redshaw is an attorney and investigative journalist with a background in political science. She is also a traditional naturopath with additional certifications in nutrition and exercise science)

Over time, the use of aspartame has grown significantly, and it is now present in more than 6,000 products.

To give you an idea of common foods containing aspartame, here are a few examples:

  • Zero-sugar diet drinks, including Diet Coke
  • Sugar-free gum brands like Trident, Extra, and Orbit
  • Sugar-Free – Orange Squash – High Juice
  • Reduced-sugar and sugar-free condiments
  • Sugar-free Jelly
  • Low-sugar juices
  • Mints and iced tea
  • Energy Drinks
  • Yoghurts like Dannon Activia and Weight Watchers vanilla and toffee flavours
  • Cereals including General Mills Cheerios, Kellogg’s Special K, and Post Honey Bunches of Oats

Diet Sodas

  1. Diet Coke
  • Brand: Coca-Cola
  • Aspartame content: 180 mg per liter
  1. Pepsi Max
  • Brand: PepsiCo
  • Aspartame content: approximately 190 mg per litre
  1. Tango Sugar-Free
  • Brand: Britvic plc
  • Aspartame content: Undisclosed

Chewing Gums

  1. Orbit Sugar-Free Chewing Gum
  • Brand: Wrigley’s
  • Aspartame content: undisclosed
  1. Extra Sugar-Free Chewing Gum
  • Brand: Wrigley’s
  • Aspartame content: undisclosed


  1. Müller Light
  • Brand: Müller
  • Aspartame content: undisclosed
  1. Weight Watchers Layered Fromage Frais
  • Brand: Weight Watchers
  • Aspartame content: undisclosed

Low-Sugar Desserts

  1. Hartleys Sugar-Free Jelly
  • Brand: Hartleys
  • Aspartame content: undisclosed
  1. Cadbury Highlights Hot Chocolate
  • Brand: Cadbury
  • Aspartame content: undisclosed

Energy Drinks

  1. Red Bull Sugar-Free
  • Brand: Red Bull
  • Aspartame content: undisclosed
  1. Monster Energy Absolutely Zero
  • Brand: Monster Beverage Corporation
  • Aspartame content: undisclosed

The Risks

According to the FDA, aspartame, also known as L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanine methyl ester, is a white, odourless powder derived from two amino acids: phenylalanine and aspartic acid. During digestion, about 50 per cent of aspartame by weight breaks down into phenylalanine, 40 per cent into aspartic acid, and 10 per cent into potentially toxic methanol in the small intestine.

Aspartame, a widely used sweetener, carries certain risks that we should be informed about to make conscious dietary decisions. Aspartame has been linked to numerous health issues, including cancer, weight gain, depression, and migraines.

As such, people have been called to explore healthier alternatives to aspartame. Here are a few ideas. But my main advice would be this, check the food labels!

1) Stevia

Stevia is a 100% natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. It is extremely low in calories, with a sweetness level that’s 200-300 times more than that of sugar. Stevia has been found to help manage blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation. It is an excellent alternative to aspartame and can be used to sweeten drinks and baked goods.

2) Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that’s found in certain fruits and vegetables. It has a sweetness level that’s similar to sugar, and it’s popularly used as a sugar substitute in chewing gum and sweets. Xylitol has shown to help prevent dental cavities, improve bone density, and aid in weight loss.

3) Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is an ancient fruit that’s been used for centuries in China to sweeten tea and medicinal concoctions. It has zero calories and is considered 150-200 times sweeter than sugar. Monk fruit has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s been linked to anti-aging and anti-cancer benefits. Monk fruit is an all-natural and healthy alternative to aspartame.

4) Erythritol

Erythritol is another sugar alcohol that’s extracted from fruits and vegetables like grapes and corn. It has a sweetness level that’s similar to sugar but has just 6% of the calories. Erythritol has been shown to reduce dental cavities, lower blood sugar levels, and help with weight management. It’s also easy to digest and doesn’t cause the digestive issues other artificial sweeteners cause.

5) Raw Honey

Raw honey is a natural and unprocessed sweetener that’s packed with nutrients. It contains antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that boost immunity and support overall health. Raw honey is also a great source of energy and can be used to sweeten tea, smoothies, and desserts. It is, however, important to note that honey has a higher calorie count than most sweeteners, so moderation is key.

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