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Aspartame (or APM) (pronounced /ˈæspərteɪm/ or /əˈspɑrteɪm/) is the name for an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener. In the European Union, it is known under the E number (additive code) E951. Aspartame is the methyl ester of a phenylalanine/aspartic acid dipeptide. It has been the subject of controversy since its initial approval in 1974. A 2007 safety evaluation found that the weight of existing scientific evidence indicates that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption as a non-nutritive sweetener.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener. Although it has roughly the same number of calories per gram as table sugar (sucrose), it is around 200 times sweeter. It is also known by the brand names, Nutrasweet, Equal, Spoonful and Equal Measure. It was discovered by accident by James Schlatter, a chemist of G D Searle Co. in 1965, when he was testing an anti-ulcer drug. Its use in carbonated drinks was finally approved in 1983, following a decade-long battle against the objections of Dr. John Olney (a neuroscience researcher), James Turner (a consumer attorney) and investigations into the research practices of G D Searle.
Aspartame is the methyl ester of the dipeptide of the natural amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine. Under strongly acidic or alkaline conditions, aspartame may generate methanol by hydrolysis. Under more severe conditions, the peptide bonds are also hydrolyzed, resulting in the free amino acids. In certain markets aspartame is manufactured using a genetically modified variation of E. coli.
Two of the components of aspartame (phenylalanine and aspartic acid) are chiral, which means that they have two isomers that are non-superimposable mirror images. This means that the final aspartame molecule will have two stereogenic centers. If the incorrect enantiomers are used, the aspartame molecule will not have the correct shape to fit the binding site of the ‘sweetness’ receptors on the tongue.
In the synthesis of aspartame, the starting materials are a racemic mixture (equal quantities of both enantiomers) of phenylalanine, and aspartic acid. Only the L enantiomer of phenylalanine is used: this is separated from the racemate by reacting it with acetic anhydride and sodium hydroxide. If the product of this reaction is then treated with the enzyme porcine kidney acylase and an organic extraction with H+ carried out, the L enantiomer is found in the aqueous layer and the D enantiomer remains in the organic layer.
Treatment of L-phenylalanine with methanol and hydrochloric acid esterifies the –CO2H group, and this ester is then reacted with aspartic acid to give the final product. It is important that the amine group on aspartic acid is protected with carbobenzyloxy groups and the acid group nearest the amine protected with benzyl groups, to prevent the L-phenylalanine reacting with these and giving unwanted byproducts. The acid group that is required to react is activated with Castro’s reagent. Castro’s reagent is displaced as L-phenylalanine is added, but the protective groups must be removed after the reaction. Carbobenzyloxy is removed by a reaction with hydrogen and platinum (IV) oxide with methanol and chloroform; benzyl is removed by reaction with hydrogen/palladium/carbon plus methanol and chloroform, completing the aspartame synthesis.
Aspartame is hydrolysed in the body to three chemicals, aspartic acid (40%), phenylalanine (50%) and methanol (10%). Aspartic acid is an amino acid. Much research has been carried out to determine its behaviour in the body when it is taken in its free form, i.e. unbound to proteins. It is claimed that when it is ingested the blood plasma levels of aspartate and glutamate rise significantly. Both aspartate and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain, carrying information from neuron to neuron. When there is an excess of neurotransmitter, certain neurons are killed by allowing too much calcium into the cells. This influx causes excessive numbers of free radicals to build up which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that is caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is the reason they are referred to as ‘excitotoxins’: they ‘excite’ or stimulate the neural cells to death.
Phenylalanine is another amino acid and is found normally in the brain. It is advised that people with the genetic disorder, phenylketonuria (PKU) do not consume aspartame as they are unable to metabolize the phenylalanine that is produced on its hydrolysis. A high level of phenyalanine in the brain is extremely harmful and sometimes fatal.
Methanol is highly toxic; it is gradually released in the small intestine when the methyl group of the aspartame encounters the enzyme chymotrypsin. It has been pointed out that some fruit juices and alcoholic beverages contain small amounts of methanol. It is important to remember, however, that methanol never appears alone. In every case, ethanol is present, usually in much higher amounts; ethanol reduces the effects of methanol toxicity in humans.
Formaldehyde Exposure from Aspartame
Aspartame breaks down into methanol, amino acids and several other chemicals. The methanol is quickly absorbed and converted into formaldehyde. The methanol found in foods and alcoholic beverages is also absorbed, but there are "protective chemicals" in these traditionally-ingested foods and beverages that prevent the conversion of methanol to formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is known to cause gradual damage to the nervous system, the immune system and has recently been shown to cause irreversible genetic damage at long-term, low-level exposure. The calculated level of formaldehyde exposure is approximately 61.3mg for every liter of aspartame ingested. That is over twice the level necessary to cause irreversible genetic damage in humans and several times the level shown to cause chronic neurological, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and other symptoms in long-term industrial exposure research. The damage caused by formaldehyde from aspartame may be worsened by other aspartame breakdown chemicals, especially the aspartic acid.
Symptoms - Abdominal Pain (Severe) abdominal discomfort
Symptoms - Bowel Movements
Bowel movement changes
Symptoms - Cardiovascular
Symptoms - Food - Beverages
Symptoms - Gas-Int - General
(Regular/frequent) unexplained nausea
(Frequent/regular) unexplained vomiting
Symptoms - General
Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular
(Very) poor vision or being blind or nearly blind
Vision loss is a possible consequence of aspartame consumption.
Symptoms - Metabolic
Very great/major/moderate unexplained weight gain
The American Cancer Society has confirmed through study that users of artificial sweeteners gain more weight than those who don't use the products, further undermining the supposed "purpose" for the existence of aspartame in food. The major selling point of aspartame is as a diet aid, and it has been demonstrated that the use of this product actually causes people to consume more food. Normally, when a significant quantity of carbohydrate are consumed, serotonin levels rise in the brain. This is manifested as a relaxed feeling after a meal. When aspartame is ingested with carbohydrates, such as having a sandwich with a diet drink, aspartame causes the brain to cease production of serotonin, meaning that the feeling of having had enough never materializes. You then eat more foods, many containing aspartame, and the cycle continues.
Symptoms - Mind - Emotional
Symptoms - Mind - General
Symptoms - Muscular
(Severe) muscle cramp/twitching
Symptoms - Nervous
Regular/frequent/occasional odd skin sensations
Symptoms - Reproductive - Female Cycle
Irregular menstrual cycles
Symptoms - Respiratory
Deep chest pain
(Sudden) shortness of breath
Symptoms - Skeletal
Arthritic symptoms are regularly reported as a result of consuming aspartame.
Symptoms - Skin - Conditions
Symptoms - Skin - General
Symptoms - Sleep
Being a light sleeper
blindness in one or both eyes
decreased vision and/or other eye problems such as: blurring, bright flashes, squiggly lines, tunnel vision, decreased night vision
pain in one or both eyes
trouble with contact lenses
tinnitus - ringing or buzzing sound
severe intolerance of noise
marked hearing impairment
headaches, migraines and (some severe)
dizziness, unsteadiness, both
confusion, memory loss, both
severe drowsiness and sleepiness
paresthesia or numbness of the limbs
severe slurring of speech
severe hyperactivity and restless legs
atypical facial pain
shortness of breath
recent high blood pressure
diarrhea, sometimes with blood in stools
pain when swallowing
Skin and Allergies
itching without a rash
lip and mouth reactions
aggravated respiratory allergies such as asthma
Endocrine and Metabolic
loss of control of diabetes
marked thinning or loss of hair
marked weight loss
gradual weight gain
aggravated low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
frequency of voiding and burning during urination
excessive thirst, fluid retention, leg swelling, and bloating
increased susceptibility to infection
Additional Symptoms of Aspartame Toxicity include the most critical symptoms of all
irreversible brain damage
birth defects, including mental retardation
aspartame addiction and increased craving for sweets
hyperactivity in children
Aspartame may trigger, mimic, or cause the following illnesses:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Mercury sensitivity from Amalgam fillings
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
· Breath Mints
· Carbonated Soft Drinks (Especially Diet)
· Chewing Gum
· Flavored Syrups for Coffee
· Flavored Water Products
· Frozen Ice
· Frozen Ice Cream Novelties
· Fruit Spreads
· Gelatin, Sugar Free
· Hard Candies
· Ice cream Toppings
· Ice Creams, No Sugar Added or Sugar Free
· Iced Tea, Powder
· Iced Tea, Ready to Drink
· Instant Cocoa Mix
· Jams & Jellies
· Juice Blends
· Juice Drinks
· Maple Syrups
· Meal Replacements
· No Sugar Added Pies
· Non-Carbonated Diet Soft drinks
· Nutritional Bars
· Powdered Soft Drinks
· Protein Nutritional Drinks
· Soft Candy Chews
· Sugar Free Chocolate Syrup
· Sugar Free Cookies
· Sugar Free Ketchup
· Table Top Sweeteners
· Vegetable Drinks
· Yogurt, Drinkable
· Yogurt, Fat Free
· Yogurt, Sugar Free
Originally posted by Lhuhikwdwoo
Another alternative you might add is stevia.
It's a grasslike plant that grows in South America.
I remember a few nations have used it as an alternative low cal sweetener
Originally posted by DevolutionEvolvd
Organic sugar? How is that better than typical table sugar?