In the previous part we have seen the Some of the major adverse health effects associated with Aspartame consumption. There are many more which were not explained in the previous article, so let’s understand them.
- When a person eats food containing Aspartame, being intensely sweet it stimulates taste buds on the tongue and the signal is sent to the reward center in the brain that food that too with sugar is coming. This increases our appetite. Aspartame being a non-caloric sweetener food sweetened with it lacks sufficient calories. Sufficient caloric intake is necessary to stimulate the satiety center in our brain but, body does not receive any sugar or sufficient calories. Absence of sufficient calories refrains the satiety center in the brain from getting stimulated effectively, as a result Leptin is not secreted in sufficient quantity. Person remains hungry, and tends to consume excess of food loaded with sugar and calories. Body. This excess caloric and sugar intake makes person obese.
- The intense sweetness of Aspartame increases the secretion of Insulin. Presence of Insulin in excess amount increases the risk of developing Insulin resistance. Once Insulin resistance develops, it (Insulin) fails in effective metabolism of blood sugar; Sugar is not effectively utilized by muscles and liver. Excess unutilized sugar is then converted into fats. Presence of fatty tissues in large amount,signals body to increase the secretion of Leptin to burn this fat. Like Insulin over exposure of Leptin also results in Leptin resistance. This leads to ineffective burning of fats and development of obesity
- Phenylalanine- A metabolite from Aspartame reduces the levels of Serotonin in the brain. Low serotonin level is associated with the decrease in satiety and increase in hunger. Person consumes more food (more calories) and this leads to weight gain/Obesity.
When a person eats food containing Aspartame in large quantity or for prolonged duration, it generates high level of Phenylalanine within the body. Phenylalanine undergoes further metabolism in the liver to produce certain chemicals like Noradrenaline, Dopamine, and Adrenaline. These chemicals have an effect on the blood vessels within our body including that in lungs, and results in their contraction. This increases the pressure within the blood vessels supplying lungs,and culminates into Pulmonary Hypertension. If this situation persists for a longer period then, risk of developing heart failure increases.
- MUSCULOSKELETAL PROBLEMS:
One of the major metabolite of Aspartame i.e. Aspartic acid is a main culprit behind all the Musculoskeletal problems that are linked with Aspartame consumption.
Aspartic acid (Aspartate) gets converted into Glutamate inside our body. Glutamate acts as an excitotoxin. i.e. It overstimulates the nerves and receptors within the body. Glutamate also overstimulates the pain receptors (NMDA) and produces widespread pain sensations within the body
- Fibromyalgia (widespread pain and fatigue in the muscles)
- Joint pains
- Numbness or shooting pain allover the body along the course of the nerves.
- PREGNANCY AND BIRTH DEFECTS:
Aspartame consumption in a large quantity through food during pregnancy can result in the accumulation of very high levels of Phenylalanine and Aspartic acid in the blood of the mother.
Protective barrier (blood brain barrier) for the brain is not fully developed in fetus. Thus, these two chemicals can easily cross the Placenta and enter into fetal circulation. Placenta has a concentrating effect on these two chemicals and can increase their levels to 400-600 %. Fetus is 4 times more sensitive than adults to these chemicals. Owing to the Neurotoxic effects of these two metabolites, they can easily cause an irreversible brain dame in the growing fetus.
- MALE SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION AND INFERTILITY:
Aspartate a from Aspartame gets further metabolized to Glutamate. Glutamate being Excitotoxin damages the nerve cells from the area of hypothalamus in the brain. This area is responsible for the generation of signals to produce various important hormones in our body (Including Sex hormones). Damage to the hypothalamus results in the decrease in the signals required for the formation and secretion of male sex hormone. Low levels of this hormone in the blood can result in the decrease in fertility of a man.
Aspartame Metabolite Phenylalanine when gets accumulated in a very high quantity, it increases the Prolactin (hormone) levels in the blood. The other Metabolite Aspartate after getting converted into Glutamate damages the nerve cells from hypothalamus area of the brain. Damage here causes decrease in the secretion of hormone called LH. High levels of Prolactin and low levels of LH in the blood of woman can result in infertility.
Phenylalanine and Methyl alcohol are the two metabolites of Aspartame mainly responsible for the damage to the DNA and Mitochondria structures within the human cells. Cellular damage can alter their functioning and result in the development of different types of cancers in the body such as,
- Breast Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Cancer of Kidney and Ureter
- Blood Cancers like Leukemia and Lymphoma
- Brain Cancer (Due to Diketopiperazine)
IMPORTANT: Some of the adverse events associated with Aspartame can also occur after ingestion of very little amount of Aspartame for very short period of time. These acute events are rare and are due to genetic disorder called as Phenylketonuria. It is a condition where body cannot metabolize and eliminate excess amount of Phenylalanine that is accumulated within. This is due to lack/absence of effective mechanism that metabolizes Phenylalanine. It is a rare condition and does not affect everybody. Those who suffer from this condition and are aware of it should never consume Aspartame.