Thursday, July 23, 2009

artificial sweeteners

I received an e-mail last week from one of my readers about artificial sweeteners. I have had such mixed feelings about these that I figured I would share it with you so that you could do your own research and adjust for what is correct for your own life.
I began trying to lose weight at the age of 15. This is when I first lost 70 pounds and kept it off for years. At age 22, fresh out of college, I started my first professional sit down job as an accountant at a CPA firm. This is when my weight began to climb. 2 additional sit down accountant positions since, and I had gained back all 70, plus some. Now, don't get me wrong, all those years, I had tried numerous "fad" diets. All with some loss, but never anything substantial. Then I found Weight Watchers, which I believe to be the healthiest plan out there. I found great success with WW, but for some reason, COULD NOT REACH LIFETIME GOAL. I got within 6 pounds, and then, backslid. I have now rejoined WW 5 additional times, and always have some success, but struggle and never reach goal.
So, what is the point I am trying to make? Well, a few months ago, I was at a family function, and my future sister-in-law, who is in her Junior year of college to become a registered dietitian, and I were talking. I mentioned that I had been swelling so badly lately in my fingers that I was unable to wear my engagement ring. She made a comment to me that would change my life dramatically. She said to me,"Pam, how many diet cokes do you drink a day? I noticed you drink a lot of them. Artificial sweeteners are VERY bad for you. We have studied them and I have done a lot of personal research, too. I gave up all artificial sweeteners, and I have gone from a size 10 to 4 in the past year." Immediately, I was interested. So, I went home and began my own research. I am just going to tell you that I was in complete shock over what I read. I was confused, didn't know whether to really believe what I was reading or not. So, I spent many hours on the computer researching and reading. Then I became furious. Furious at the government and all the companies that have preyed on the most weak consumers at the expense of their health, just to make a dollar.

See, what I did was start by googling "artificial sweetener side effects." After reading all the info, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I was suffering from aspartame poisoning. So, I set out to eliminate it from my diet. My first thought was eliminate diet coke. Seemed simple, until I realized that over half of the foods in my house are "lite" and they also contained sucralose (splenda) or aspartame. Before I got rid of everything, I decided to give it a few days to see if I noticed the difference. So, I started drinking just water and avoiding any foods containing artificial sweeteners. The first day wasn't too bad, although, I must admit, I really, REALLY wanted a diet coke! But I was so proud of myself for not having one and drinking all the water I had consumed that day. In the middle of the night of day 1, I woke up to a horrible, pounding headache. I took some headache medicine, but it didn't help. After a very miserable, sleepless night, I got ready for work, contemplating calling in sick, but I rarely miss work, so I tried to go on. I went to work, and the headache got worse and worse until I had to go home to bed and take migraine medicine. I knew it was probably aspartame withdrawal after what I had read, but I never expected it to be this bad. I mean, who would think you could be physically dependent on nutrasweet? CRAZY! I even drank coffee earlier, just to make sure it wasn't caffeine withdrawal, and I am not a fan of coffee. So, I can say, day 3 was when it started getting better. I still had a headache, but nothing like the monster headache that had incapacitated me the second day. The dull headache remained for days, but each day felt a little better.

As the consecutive days unfolded, every day I saw the scale drop. Yes, even after substituting real sugar sweetened tea with meals halfway through the first week, I was dropping weight. I lost 2.5 pounds the first day, 3 the next, and it just kept coming off. After a month, I had lost 27 pounds. All, while drinking sugar sweetened tea in moderation, and not really counting points, just trying to continue eating healthy. I had read that aspartame makes you actually crave sugar and people who use large amounts of aspartame had actually gained weight compared to a study group that were allowed to eat and drink sugar sweetened foods and drinks. So, my sugar and carbohydrate cravings were gone, and naturally, I just began losing weight without trying. Now, I will say that had I substituted real coke for diet, all that sugar would have kept me from losing, but I was using sugar in moderation, something I hadn't done in 15 years while struggling with my weight, and I was losing weight.

The weight loss was great, but the improvement in my health and the way I felt was even more dramatic. I had become a 30 year old with aches and pains of a 70 year old. Seriously, I had arthritic pain in my knees, hands, and feet. I had muscle spasms, and weak muscles at times. I had acne type problems show up in my mid-20's, after not having acne as a teen. I began having trouble sleeping. I also began having headaches and vertigo. After seeing the ENT and having an MRI, nothing was found to cause the vertigo. I was put on migraine medicine, but it didn't work. I had a constant sore throat and had been told it was acid reflux. The medicine seemed to help some, but not totally. I had been diagnosed with severe dry eyes and had to start wearing special contacts, although this condition isn't common in women so young. I knew my weight caused many of these problems, but I never seemed to be able to lose weight in my adult life, so I didn't know what to do.

After discontinuing ALL artificial sweeteners, I am inching closer and closer to my goal weight. My arthritic aches and joint pains are gone...completely. No more muscle spasms, no more migraines, no more vertigo, no more sore throat. My skin is as clear as a bell, haven't had those nasty cysts in months! I now sleep continuously through the night and wake up feeling refreshed. I have more energy than I have had since I was a teenager. I am convinced that had I not found this out, I would have continued to have problems that would affect my health and my quantity and quality of life. I never thought I was depressed before, but I now feel so good and have such excitement for life, I must have had some mild depression before. I read that some people actually have aspartame poisoning so bad the toxicity presents itself in symptoms where they are diagnosed with MS, Parkinson's, and many other serious illnesses. It doesn't cause these diseases, it just manifests with similar symptoms. When people actually have aspartame toxicity,if they discontinue use, they will usually get better, if not completely well, whereas, if they really had these diseases, they would never be rid of it.

So, all I am asking is that you look into this stuff and if it hits you in the gut the way it did me, maybe you could try to get more people to look into it through your blog. I am very passionate about this because I feel the dangerous side effects have just been covered up in an attempt to make money. My mother was also a user of Spleda ( I won't go into it in detail, but this one makes me even madder, because they advertise it as if it is all natural...made from sugar, but it actually not natural at all, and is poisonous in its very content) and was suffering severe swelling...we thought she was going into congestive heart failure. After 3 days on not ingesting Splenda (her drug of ignorance!), her swelling was completely gone, as well as a mystery rash, and 10 pounds! Just look all artificial sweeteners up. They say saccharin is actually the safest of the 3!!!! I would have never thought that!


  1. I saw that as a message that came to me via junk mail. I don't know what to think about it either. I think everything in moderation is alright, which is how I'm living my life right now. I think that WW encourages fresh food, prepared in the home, and that eliminates a lot of the artifical stuff. Just my thinking?

  2. I agree with BEG...moderation is the key. I don't think I would bake a cake for kids with Splenda, but a packet here or there or a Diet Coke once in awhile I think is ok...

  3. This is tough for me too. I have cut back, because I don't think anything fake can can be good for you. However, I find it SO much easier to follow points by eating the things that contain aspartame, phelenyutroniks, splenda, etc. I do believe, however, that the more you eat of these things, the more your body craves sugar...

    It's a toss up and a struggle for me, thanks for sharing!

  4. I highly agree- The artificial sweetener aspartame has been proven to cause cause of multiple sclerosis, ...Use this instead FDA approval is stevia (Truvia)

    ~ Kelly Ann~

    PS - I'm having a Recipe Swap, I'm sure you have a lot healthy dishes-please share-thxs

  5. Hi there! I fell across your blog somehow and this post scared the living daylights out of me!!! I am having some of the same symptoms that you had. Joint/muscle pain in my hands and neck. I am also always bloated. I have been dieting and exercising for about a year now and haven't lost muuch weight at all. I recently started back on weight watchers (first meeting tonight) and have decided to cut out artificial sweeteners to see if that helps. My husband and I use it in EVERYTHING!!! I even bake a lot with it. I started a little research today and found many articles on Time, ABC, WEBMD and many many other credible locations. I am shocked. Thank you for posting this!!!!

  6. I'm new to the blogging world and have been reading your blog for a little while but thought that I would give you my two cents on this topic. Here's where I am coming from: I have BS in nutrition and dietetics; once I complete my thesis I will have an MS in foods and nutrition; and I am about to embark on a 9-month journey (internship) to be become a registered dietician. Artificial sweeteners - there are numerous studies out there that link sugar substitutes to weight gain; artificial sweeteners are not "real" food, they are artificial, you're body doesn't always recognize and know what to do with a food that isn't "real," when this happens your body tends to convert this artificial food into fat; now for the those who are obese artificial sweeteners can help them to lose weight but this will only work if they are taking in ridiculous amounts of real sugar on a regular basis. I am a fan of eating as much "real" food as possible; it's very hard to stay away from processed foods but I try to as much as possible. I want my body to recognize just about everything that goes into it. Thanks for posting this and thanks for reading my two cents (sorry for the length).

  7. I just read the comments on this post after reading the post, and Jessica's comment makes a lot of sense.

  8. I found your blog by bloghopping, but I do think you're onto something.....I gave up diet coke, and it made a big difference but I have continued to use Splenda. now I'm thinking I should give it up, too. thanks.


  9. Hi...I've just recently began reading your blog...and this post was so intruiging to me! I've since decided to start to wean myself off of my daily Dt. Mt. Dew's, and to take out the Splenda that I've used in my sweet tea...I can't wait to see the difference on the scale!

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  11. This post was fascinating. I seriously had no idea. Thank you so much for putting this info out there.

  12. I'd like to point everyone to this "level headed" article. Some folks are "purists" and if it isn't "natural" it's not good.
    Sugar is processed. It's not really natural. To get it naturally, you need to eat Cane or Beets before they process them into sugar. They are chemical, but I can see it from the purist pov and agree that sugar was created by the natural process of the growth of a plant where the other sweeteners were created in a lab.
    Read this article and then, as Mrs. Classic recommends, do your OWN research.

    Food for thought, is an in-vitro baby not a real baby? Is a lab created Gem not a real gem?

    I know, it's not the same at all, but it is something to consider before you jump on the bandwagon that artificial sweeteners are bad. Moderation, as many posters already said, that's the key. Even sugar will kill you if you over use it.

    Be well, be SMART and think!

  13. I saw this other day, but didn't have time to sit down & read it. I read it today & it is making me curious! I will have to read up on those sweeteners & I totally thought Splenda was okay. (I'm not taking any artificial sweeteners right now b/c I'm pregnant) But, I sure have in the past. Thanks for posting this...

  14. Thank you for this very informative post. I was wondering, do you know anything about Stevia? I have read that it is pretty safe, but who knows...