Authorized in France for 30 years, aspartame is used as a sugar substitute in more than 90 countries. But the World Health Organization has decided to reassess the risks and new consumption precautions could be published by the end of July.
6,000 is the number of products sold in France that contain aspartame (E951), a sweetener used here as a sugar substitute for 30 years.
Last May, the World Health Organization (WHO) had already published a Directive which advises against its use, like that of all sugar-free sweeteners, to control weight. “Replacing free sugars with NSS does not help with long-term weight control. People should consider other ways to reduce their intake of free sugars, such as eating foods that contain natural sugars, such as fruits , or unsweetened foods and drinks,” Francesco said. Branca, WHO director for nutrition and food security.
But the WHO is not going to stop there. Two working groups are continuing studies on the safety of aspartame and its potential carcinogenic effects. The results were to be published by the end of July. Without prejudging the results of these studies, the acceptable daily intake could be revised.
Aspartame: in which products is it found?
Everyone knows that aspartame is present in “light” and “sugar-free” products: sodas, iced teas, yogurts, candies, syrups, chewing gum and other meal replacements… “What we less known is that it is also found in toothpaste, vaccines and in more than 500 drugs listed by Vidal (Advil, amoxicillin, Eludril, Gaviscon, Solupred…)! consume, since farmers are sold ‘sweeto’, a sweetener based on neotame (a super-aspartame), which is mixed with livestock feed so that they eat more and, therefore, it grows faster” explains Henriette Chardak, author of Light is heavy (ed. Max Milo).
Aspartame: why is it problematic?
Composed of aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol, aspartame breaks down into metabolites which are eliminated in the stools and in the urine. But some remains in the body for several days.
“The most problematic component is methanol which, from 30°C (and our body is at 37°C), turns into formaldehyde which, itself, turns into formic acid with deleterious effects on health Aspartame is bad in particular for the brain and it would promote Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases In the eyes, it could damage the retina and the optic nerve and, in the pancreas, it could degrade the cells of the islets of Langerhans which secrete insulin and thus promote type 2 diabetes” explained Henriette Chardak in an interview published in Top Santé in October 2018.
Aspartame: who are the most vulnerable people?
“Pregnant women should not consume it at all because the blood-brain barrier of the fetus, in formation, allows the metabolites of aspartame to pass. For the same reason, it is not recommended for young children.
For teenagers, energy drinks containing it are a very bad chemical cocktail for the heart. People suffering from epilepsy, tempted to take it because their treatment makes you fat, should also avoid it because it promotes seizures.
Finally, it is not recommended for patients with diabetes because it tricks the brain, disrupts insulin secretion and the feeling of satiety. It is better to reduce your sugar consumption rather than take aspartame” specifies Henriette Chardak.
Aspartame: why it does not help to lose weight?
One might think that, unlike sugar, aspartame helps with weight loss because it does not provide calories. But in reality, it lures the brain with its sweet taste, disrupts blood sugar regulation and increases appetite.
In addition, aspartame metabolites weaken the intestinal microbiota and, through mechanisms still under study, promote weight gain. So it makes you fat! Numerous studies have shown that the consumption of light drinks is associated with overweight and obesity. The human metabolism is not made for this kind of chemistry.
Aspartame: how to avoid it when trying to lose weight?
- By eating natural products, without additives.
- By drinking water and by offering yourself from time to time, if you wish, a soda, but with real sugar.
- By doing more physical activity and not by buying light products.
- Reading the labels: aspartame has the code E951 and neotame, the E961.
WHO advises not to use non-sugar sweeteners for weight control in newly released guidelineWHO, May 2023
Aspartame, a sweetener that is making the (bad) buzz againTop health, October 2018