This Is Your Brain on Aspartame

Aspartame Triggers Depression and Irritable Mood
In the North Dakota study, no students showed signs of depression after eating the low-aspartame diet. But the students became significantly more depressed after they consumed the high-aspartame diet. And after consuming the high-aspartame diet, 3 participants showed signs of mild to moderate clinical depression.

The participants also showed significantly more irritability after consuming the high-aspartame diet.
The researchers believed their results were consistent with an earlier randomized, double-blind, crossover trial which showed severe depression related to aspartame. In that study 40 participants with depression and 40 participants without depression were given even higher aspartame meals (30 mg/kg body weight/day) or confectioners’ sugar.[iii] That study had to be halted early due to severe adverse reactions suffered by the depressed participants who consumed aspartame.

How does aspartame affect the brain?
The researchers noted that the chemical makeup of aspartame is in part responsible for its effects on the brain. Aspartame is metabolized to yield aspartic acid (an excitatory neurotransmitter), phenylalanine, and methanol. Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, breaks down in the body to formaldehyde.

Other researchers have reported an association between substantial increases in phenylalanine and aspartic acid, and reductions in dopamine and serotonin production following aspartame ingestion.

The researchers point out that there are relatively few clinical studies of the neurobehavioral effects of short-term aspartame consumption. More research is needed especially on the long-term effects of daily aspartame use.

How can you avoid aspartame?
Aspartame has made its way into so many products it’s difficult to avoid. You’ll find it in diet sodas, instant oatmeal, yogurt, sugar-free gums, candies, flavored waters, hot chocolate mix, pudding, salad dressings, ice cream, children’s vitamins and thousands of other products.

You have to read the labels on all packaged foods especially if you are one of the millions of people who are sensitive to aspartame.

And just say no to those little packets in restaurants. Aspartame is marketed under the names “NutraSweet,” “Equal,” and “Spoonful.”

Instead try stevia. It’s a natural sweetener made from the leaves of a South American plant. You’ll also see it called “sweetleaf” or “sugarleaf.” Stevia is essentially calorie-free. Look for the less processed green stevia rather than the white powder form.
by: Margie King –