Artificial sweeteners cause weight gain?


AspartameI was shocked this week to learn that simple old Metamucil (a fibre supplement sold in the chemist) is sweetened with Aspartame, an artificial sweetener.  I’ve since learned that lots of foods, not just diet products, also contain Aspartame and the number of foods is increasing.  For example: sausages, rice crackers, yoghurt, snacks, desserts, mints, cordials, juices, instant coffee drinks and, BEWARE, vitamins and medicines.

For a while now, I’ve known that Aspartame is associated with a variety of adverse health effects, not the least of which is weight gain.  So, needless to say it’s one of things I discourage my clients from eating.

Aspartame doesn’t seem to help dieters physically (it does nothing to address carbohydrate addiction) or psychologically (researchers have observed that people who consume artificial sweeteners tend to make up the calories elsewhere).  So perhaps Jacquie Collins, Hollywood star, was right when she was quoted as saying “only fat people drink diet soda”.

I recently had a client that became quite defensive when the discussion came around to her diet soft drink intake. She found it very hard to believe that regular soft drink, while still not great, was better than diet soft drink.  As we discovered when I questioned her, her once a day diet drink was her treat and something she really looked forward to.  The fact that she found it so hard to give up even after I’d shown her the list of unhealthy side effects of Aspartame is testimony to how indoctrinated she is in the calorie counting methodology of losing weight – a methodology we know has a very, very low success rate. I lost this client as she was unwilling to change her habits and I consider it a tragedy!

If you’re not convinced, let me give you some additional information that may persuade you.

The range of symptoms and aliments attributed to Aspartame in a 1994 Department of Health and Human Services report include:

Headache, migraines, dizziness, seizures, numbness, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, slurred speech, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss and joint pain.

In addition, The Chemical Maze Complete Edition states that potential effects include asthma, gradual weight gain, multiple sclerosis and a suspected link to brain tumours plus many more.

Julie Eady in her book Additive Alert, shares that “Aspartame is considered by some to be the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods.  It accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions reported to the US Food and Drug Administration, yet the additive is still widely permitted and no warning labelling is required.”

She goes on to say “Aspartame is an excitotoxin, as is MSG.  Excessive exposure to Aspartame can cause damage to the brain cells and, as with MSG, children and infants (including foetuses) are most at risk because of the undeveloped blood-brain barrier.  For this reason pregnant women should avoid Aspartame, and it should not be given to children at all” (her italics). I would also advise removal of artificial sweeteners well prior to conception.

Despite the evidence there seems no move to restrict the use of Aspartame in Australian foods and indeed it’s actually becoming more widespread.  According to Eady, it is estimated that 1 in every 15 people are regular consumers of Aspartame and many of these are children.  Aspartame is prohibited in foods for infants but, as we face a future with over half of all Australian kids overweight or obese, more parent are likely to choose “diet” products for their children.  It is very concerning to think about what the long term effect of regular Aspartame consumption might be in this generation of kids.

I’ll leave you with one final story that illustrates how misguided we can become.  A teenager, 19 years old, came to me with several health complaints including weight gain, skin rashes, sugar addiction and bedwetting!  In discussing her diet with her I discovered she drank 3 coffees a day with Equal (Aspartame).  She added, because I almost didn’t ask, 8 sachets in each!!!!  24 sachets a day plus she drank Pepsi Max.  No wonder she had health complaints.  That intake was completely throwing her body out of balance. To her credit she agreed to eliminate the artificial sweeteners from her diet and her healing journey began.

Don’t be fooled by the low calorie message.  Approach your weight loss with the perspective of gaining healthy cellular function.  Not a sexy statement perhaps, but oh, my goodness, it works.


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Brenda Rogers

With over 25 years experience as a corporate trainer, naturopath, yoga teacher and wise woman educator, Brenda is the head clinician and coach at Quintessence Health.

"A healthy mind and body simply ensures you have the time and energy to fully express and manifest your life’s purpose – it facilitates the unfolding of joy."

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