Aspartame & the Brain

Aspartame & the Brain
5 (100%) 7 votes

The reason artificially sweetened beverages have been associated with depression may be because of psychological disturbances recently tied to aspartame (“Equal” or “NutraSweet”).

Discuss
Republish

A Harvard study of hundreds of thousands of people compared coffee drinkers to non-coffee drinkers. Those drinking up to four or more cups a day only appeared to have half the suicide risk. What about more than four? A Kaiser Permanente study of a hundred thousand people found that suicide risk continued to drop, 80% lower at more than 6 cups a day. Eight or more cups a day, though, is associated with increased risk. Perhaps those with more severe forms of depression try to use very high doses of coffee as a form of self-medication to make themselves feel better but, nevertheless, it is insufficient to elevate their mood.

It may also matter what goes into the coffee. The NIH-AARP study of hundreds of thousands of Americans followed for years, found that frequent consumption of sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, may increase depression risk among older adults, whereas coffee consumption may lower the risk. Whether soda, fruit-flavored drinks, or iced tea, those artificially sweetened drinks appeared to carry higher risk. Same with hot tea or coffee. There was a benefit in coffee drinkers compared to non-drinkers, but add sugar and much of that benefit disappears, and add Equal or Sweet-and-Low, and the risk may go up. Various effects of artificial sweeteners, including neurological effects, have been suspected. For example, aspartame—the chemical in Equal and Nutrasweet—may modulate brain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, although data have been controversial and inconsistent. Scientific opinions range anywhere from “safe under all conditions” to “unsafe at any dose.”

The controversy started in the 80s soon after aspartame was approved. Researchers at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and MIT noted that given the very large number of Americans routinely exposed, if only 1% of the 100,000,000 Americans thought to consume aspartame ever exceed the sweetener’s accepted daily intake, and if only 1% of this group happen coincidentally to have an underlying disease that makes their brains vulnerable to the effects, then the number of people who might manifest adverse brain reactions attributable to aspartame could still be about 10,000, a number on the same order as the number of brain and nerve-related consumer complaints already registered with the FDA before they stopped accepting further reports of adverse reactions to the sweetener.

Who might be especially vulnerable? Those with a history of depression. Researchers at Case Western designed a study to ascertain whether individuals with mood disorders are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of aspartame. Although they had planned on recruiting 40 patients with depression and 40 controls, the project was halted early by the Institutional Review Board for safety reasons because of the severity of reactions to aspartame within the group of patients with a history of depression. It was decided that it was unethical to continue to expose people to the stuff.

It’s interesting, normally when you study something, a drug or a food, the company usually donates it to the researchers because they’re proud of the benefits or safety of their product. But the Nutrasweet company refused to even sell it to them, but they managed to get their hands on some, and within a week there were significantly more adverse effects reported in the aspartame group than in the placebo group. They concluded that individuals with mood disorders may be particularly sensitive to aspartame, and therefore its use in this population should be discouraged.

In a review of the direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain, it was noted that there are reports of aspartame causing neurological and behavioral disturbances in sensitive individuals, such as headaches, insomnia and seizures, but they go further and propose that excessive aspartame ingestion might be involved in the development of certain mental disorders and also in compromised learning and emotional functioning. They conclude that due to all the adverse effects caused by aspartame, it is suggested that serious further testing and research be undertaken to eliminate any and all controversies, to which someone wrote into the journal that there really is no controversy; aspartame really is potentially toxic stuff.

But what do they mean by excessive ingestion? The latest study on the neurobehavioral effects of aspartame consumption put people on a high aspartame diet compared to a low aspartame diet. But even the high dose at 25 mg/kg was only half the acceptable daily intake set by the FDA, so the FDA says one can safely consume 50mg a day, but after just eight days on half that, participants had more irritable mood, exhibited more depression, and performed worse on certain brain function tests. And these weren’t people with a pre-existing history of mental illness—these were just regular people. They conclude that given that the higher intake level tested here was well below the maximum acceptable daily intake level—40mg in Europe, 50mg here—careful consideration is warranted when consuming food products that may affect neurobehavioral health. Easier said than done, since it’s found in over 6,000 foods, apparently making artificial sweeteners impossible to completely eradicate from daily exposure. Impossible? While that may be true for the great majority of Americans, it’s only because they elect to eat processed foods, so that’s another reason to stick to whole foods. Then you don’t even have to read the ingredients lists, because the healthiest foods in the supermarket are label-free; they don’t even have ingredient lists.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Bukowsky18 via Flickr and Evan-Amos via Wikimedia.

A Harvard study of hundreds of thousands of people compared coffee drinkers to non-coffee drinkers. Those drinking up to four or more cups a day only appeared to have half the suicide risk. What about more than four? A Kaiser Permanente study of a hundred thousand people found that suicide risk continued to drop, 80% lower at more than 6 cups a day. Eight or more cups a day, though, is associated with increased risk. Perhaps those with more severe forms of depression try to use very high doses of coffee as a form of self-medication to make themselves feel better but, nevertheless, it is insufficient to elevate their mood.

It may also matter what goes into the coffee. The NIH-AARP study of hundreds of thousands of Americans followed for years, found that frequent consumption of sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, may increase depression risk among older adults, whereas coffee consumption may lower the risk. Whether soda, fruit-flavored drinks, or iced tea, those artificially sweetened drinks appeared to carry higher risk. Same with hot tea or coffee. There was a benefit in coffee drinkers compared to non-drinkers, but add sugar and much of that benefit disappears, and add Equal or Sweet-and-Low, and the risk may go up. Various effects of artificial sweeteners, including neurological effects, have been suspected. For example, aspartame—the chemical in Equal and Nutrasweet—may modulate brain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, although data have been controversial and inconsistent. Scientific opinions range anywhere from “safe under all conditions” to “unsafe at any dose.”

The controversy started in the 80s soon after aspartame was approved. Researchers at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and MIT noted that given the very large number of Americans routinely exposed, if only 1% of the 100,000,000 Americans thought to consume aspartame ever exceed the sweetener’s accepted daily intake, and if only 1% of this group happen coincidentally to have an underlying disease that makes their brains vulnerable to the effects, then the number of people who might manifest adverse brain reactions attributable to aspartame could still be about 10,000, a number on the same order as the number of brain and nerve-related consumer complaints already registered with the FDA before they stopped accepting further reports of adverse reactions to the sweetener.

Who might be especially vulnerable? Those with a history of depression. Researchers at Case Western designed a study to ascertain whether individuals with mood disorders are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of aspartame. Although they had planned on recruiting 40 patients with depression and 40 controls, the project was halted early by the Institutional Review Board for safety reasons because of the severity of reactions to aspartame within the group of patients with a history of depression. It was decided that it was unethical to continue to expose people to the stuff.

It’s interesting, normally when you study something, a drug or a food, the company usually donates it to the researchers because they’re proud of the benefits or safety of their product. But the Nutrasweet company refused to even sell it to them, but they managed to get their hands on some, and within a week there were significantly more adverse effects reported in the aspartame group than in the placebo group. They concluded that individuals with mood disorders may be particularly sensitive to aspartame, and therefore its use in this population should be discouraged.

In a review of the direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain, it was noted that there are reports of aspartame causing neurological and behavioral disturbances in sensitive individuals, such as headaches, insomnia and seizures, but they go further and propose that excessive aspartame ingestion might be involved in the development of certain mental disorders and also in compromised learning and emotional functioning. They conclude that due to all the adverse effects caused by aspartame, it is suggested that serious further testing and research be undertaken to eliminate any and all controversies, to which someone wrote into the journal that there really is no controversy; aspartame really is potentially toxic stuff.

But what do they mean by excessive ingestion? The latest study on the neurobehavioral effects of aspartame consumption put people on a high aspartame diet compared to a low aspartame diet. But even the high dose at 25 mg/kg was only half the acceptable daily intake set by the FDA, so the FDA says one can safely consume 50mg a day, but after just eight days on half that, participants had more irritable mood, exhibited more depression, and performed worse on certain brain function tests. And these weren’t people with a pre-existing history of mental illness—these were just regular people. They conclude that given that the higher intake level tested here was well below the maximum acceptable daily intake level—40mg in Europe, 50mg here—careful consideration is warranted when consuming food products that may affect neurobehavioral health. Easier said than done, since it’s found in over 6,000 foods, apparently making artificial sweeteners impossible to completely eradicate from daily exposure. Impossible? While that may be true for the great majority of Americans, it’s only because they elect to eat processed foods, so that’s another reason to stick to whole foods. Then you don’t even have to read the ingredients lists, because the healthiest foods in the supermarket are label-free; they don’t even have ingredient lists.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Bukowsky18 via Flickr and Evan-Amos via Wikimedia.

Doctor's Note

I’ve previously touched on artificial sweeteners before:

The healthiest caloric sweeteners are blackstrap molasses and date sugar (whole dried powdered dates). The healthiest low-calorie sweetener is probably erythritol (Erythritol May Be a Sweet Antioxidant).

Coffee may decrease suicide and cancer risk (Preventing Liver Cancer with Coffee? and Coffee and Cancer) but may impair blood flow to the heart (Coffee and Artery Function).

Other ways to improve mood include:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

84 responses to “Aspartame & the Brain

Commenting Etiquette

The intention of the comment section under each video and blog post is to allow all members to share their stories, questions, and feedback with others in a welcoming, engaging, and respectful environment. Off-topic comments are permitted, in hopes more experienced users may be able to point them to more relevant videos that may answer their questions. Vigorous debate of science is welcome so long as participants can disagree respectfully. Advertising products or services is not permitted.

To make NutritionFacts.org a place where people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked, we have no tolerance for ad hominem attacks or comments that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate. Please help us to foster a community of mutual respect. Enforcement of these rules is done to the best of our ability on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Yes, consume whole foods and far fewer processed foods. However, you still have to be concerned about the pesticides and herbicides that might be on the apple, for instance. Possibly one way to be even better than whole foods is to grow one’s own whole foods without the use of chemicals. I don’t personally do this, but this is how to be really safe.




    0
    1. I haven’t been concerned as yet; do I “have to be”? Can anyone kindly share (links to) some evidence that there are dangerous levels of pesticides on store-bought produce?




      0
        1. Cost-benefit. I regard growing my own food as hugely expensive (not just monetarily), even more so without pesticides. Much easier to rinse store-bought.




          0
          1. Then I guess that is your choice to make. All Dr. G and others can do is show you the data. No one will/can persuade you. So, do what you feel is best for you, and others will do the same.




            0
          2. You can’t wash of the phosphate fertilizers (plants on steroids!) that plants absorb as nutrients (artificial) that
            end up getting absorbed by you.




            0
            1. Is the rock phosphate used by organic farmers artificial?

              Anyway, still looking for evidence that grocery produce contains dangerous levels of pesticides.




              0
              1. Most organic farmers use compost as both fertilizer and to add workability to the soil. As an organic gardener, I used to add green sand, poultry manure, blood and bone meal –but that was 40 years ago. Today, I don’t because of the possibility of genetically modified organisms and herbicides contaminating it. Now red wiggler worms eat my garbage and turn it into gold. My plants love it.




                0
        2. Because pesticides are EVERYWHERE. Even if you eat nothing but organic foods you’ll get pesticides walking down the street in any city that maintains parks. If you don’t toughen up your liver you’re weakening your overall health.




          0
          1. Eating organic isn’t ONLY about our own bodies and health. Just because you may still be exposed to pesticides because they are so rampantly used is, in my opinion, not a good reason not to support organic producers. It is about supporting business that do not pollute the world we live in (as much), and I personally think that is a worth while goal. Maybe not for our health, but for the health of the earth and future generations.




            0
            1. Indeed… I agree and I eat mostly organic mainly because its a signal that these farmers care more about the big picture than profits, and thus are less likely to screw me over as a consumer.




              0
      1. brec: Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) measures actual pesticide levels in store-bought fruits and veggies–after those fruits and veggies have been prepared in the way people would normally eat them. (For example, peeling a banana or washing an apple first.) If you scroll down on the following page, you will see a list for the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”. But more than that, I believe you can find the raw data in a detailed report somewhere on that site. They are up-front about their methodology…

        http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

        Knowing the levels of pesticides in store-bought conventional produce is of course, only half the question. The other half is deciding whether or not those levels are harmful to your health (or the health of the plant and fellow people if that sort of thing matters to you). I can’t answer that for you. The EWG has this to say:

        “Pesticides are toxic by design. They are created expressly to kill living organisms — insects, plants and fungi that are considered “pests.” Many pesticides pose health dangers to people. These risks have been confirmed by independent research scientists and physicians across the world.

        As acknowledged by U.S. and international government agencies, different pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including:

        >> brain and nervous system toxicity
        >> cancer
        >> hormone disruption
        >> skin, eye and lung irritation

        But they didn’t list their sources on their FAQ page.

        Dr. Greger has the following to say, which I personally find a compelling reason to stay away from conventionaly grown produce (at least the dirty dozen) as much as possible:

        “A new study calculated that if half the U.S. population ate just one more serving of conventional fruits and vegetables, 20,000 cases of cancer could be prevented. At the same time the added pesticide consumption could cause up to 10 extra cancer cases. So by eating conventional produce we may get a tiny bump in cancer risk, but that’s more than compensated by the dramatic drop in risk that accompanies whole food plant consumption. Even if all we had to eat was the most contaminated produce the benefits would far outweigh any risks.”

        from: http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/06/25/apple-peels-turn-on-anticancer-genes/

        Hope that helps.




        0
        1. Looks to me like it ain’t “actual pesticide levels” that the EWG is measuring. As to their “Dirty Dozen” reports and methodology, see:
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135239/ — J Toxicol. 2011; 2011: 589674.
          Dietary Exposure to Pesticide Residues from Commodities Alleged to Contain the Highest Contamination Levels.

          Here’s a slice:

          The methodology used to create the “Dirty Dozen” list does not appear to
          follow any established scientific procedures. Only one of the six indicators used by the EWG crudely considers the amount of pesticide residue detected on the various commodities, and that indicator fails to
          relate exposures to such residues with established health criteria. Another indicator considers the percentage of samples found to be positive for pesticide residues. The remaining four indicators seem
          related as all appear to focus upon the existence of residues of multiple pesticides (percent of samples with two or more pesticides, average number of pesticides found on a single sample, maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample, and total number of pesticides found on the commodity)

          Here’s the concluding paragraph:

          In summary, findings conclusively demonstrate that consumer exposures to the ten most frequently detected pesticides on EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” commodity list are at negligible levels and that the EWG methodology is insufficient to allow any meaningful rankings among commodities. We concur with EWG President Kenneth Cook who maintains that “We recommend that people eat healthy by eating more fruits and vegetables, whether conventional or organic” [1], but our findings do not indicate that substituting organic forms of the “Dirty Dozen” commodities for conventional forms will lead to any measurable consumer health benefit.

          Two other discussions of the EWG reports on the BioFortified blog:

          http://www.biofortified.org/2010/07/details-on-the-dirty-dozen/ — Details on the Dirty Dozen by Anastasia Bodnar on 30 July 2010

          http://www.biofortified.org/2013/05/dirty-dozen/ — How Wrong Is The Latest “Dirty Dozen List?” by Steve Savage on 19 May 2013

          As to the study Dr. G mentions in the article you cited: TEN (10) cases of cancer among HALF THE U.S. POPULATION?! Is a risk of 10/150,000,000 — 0.000007% — per daily serving sufficient to motivate abstinence from store-bought produce? For me, it’s not.




          1
          1. brec: For myself, I’m not qualified to know how valid those articles are that you found. For all I know, those articles are like the egg and other pro-animal studies that Dr. Greger has shown to actually be invalid. In other words, I would fully expect there to be opposition to the EWG data. What I don’t know is how valid it is.

            I’m glad you found information that you find compelling for yourself.




            0
              1. The same way I validate Dr. Greger or Dr. Barnard or the China Study or Global Climate Change information or anything that is outside my area of expertise. It’s a personal process that evolves and that I don’t feel a need to justify. But I would argue that such a process is all that any lay person can do when talking about topics such as this one.




                0
                  1. I disagree. There’s lots of good reason to discuss the science to the best of your ability based on your current understandings. That’s what we all do.




                    0
                    1. (1) You present EWG’s article(s) to make a point.
                      (2) I present articles that rebut EWG’s methodology (and I summarize the rebuttals here); the articles make arguments which can be evaluated without reference to the credentials of the author(s).
                      (3) You say you have no way to validate the articles, i.e., authors, I present.
                      (4) I ask how you validated EWG’s.
                      (5) You say,

                      It’s a personal process that evolves and that I don’t feel a need to justify

                      I conclude, sorry, it’s not possible to discuss scientific issues in that way.

                      But keep up the good work!




                      1
                    2. brec: I disagree with your point #2. In fact, I could go into a detailed discussion with you about this. I just don’t want to. I did my best to help you, and I actually did. I presented you with data from Dr. Greger which you found compelling in that you found it good reason to eat conventional produce. That’s good enough for me. I’m not trying to convince you to eat organic. I was just trying to help you make your own decision. I’m not interested in going any further than that even though I could. Sorry I wasn’t clearer in how I stated things.

                      Scientific discussion is very good. It is why most of us are here. I learn more about the science on a variety of topics every day from a variety of sources. And I discuss these topics (when I’m interested) to the best of my ability – just like anyone else.

                      Hope that helps to clarify things for you. As I said, I was just trying to help you. Take it or leave it. :-)




                      0
                    3. jj: Thanks. That’s an interesting article. If I buy everything in the article, then my conclusion would be to try to eat organic as much as possible, not just focusing on the dirty dozen. (Which is really what I do already anyway.)




                      0
            1. But more fully… there is no need to “validate” the articles I cited. They make simple arguments based on EWG’s methodologies; they are not reports of experiments or complex data analyses. Basically, EWG *counts* traces of pesticide residue without regard to the amount or level of residue. Such counts are what its rankings are based on. But the fact that a particular kind of fruit had more samples with any trace of pesticide — or traces of multiple pesticides, which they also count against a product — without accounting for the amount of pesticides potentially consumed, means nothing useful with respect to safety of consumption.




              0
              1. Well actually I disagree. Why would believe that the level of RfDs is actually a standard of measurement that is safe. Wouldn’t you need to validate that?




                0
                1. The level of RfDs (reference doses, i.e., EPA’s maximum tolerable consumption levels) is irrelevant to EWG’s rankings because they are based on counts of binary measurements — either none detected or any amount trace or greater detected; measurement of level(s) doesn’t enter in to their rankings. That is the only rebuttal required to reject EWG’s rankings for anyone who understands that levels are relevant to judgements of safety.

                  It’s true that the articles I cited went on to claim that a further reason that EWG’s conclusions of “dirty” are bogus is that the levels of the supposed “dirty” products are way below RfDs. And you’re right about that being a point that could be delved into, including whether the RfDs have validity.




                  0
            2. So Brecs’ article is using the “chronic reference doses (RfDs)” as a level in which to quantify the levels of pesticides in the EWG list. So they are saying the list has low levels as measured by the RfDs standards. But I think more important are the studies Dr Greger has referenced in regards to pesticides and herbicides and how they affect the body. I agree with you Thea. If you can afford it buy organic. Support the organic farmers and keep that crap out of our soils.




              0
          2. The Environmental Working Group uses government data which complies with a ‘Consumer Right to Know’ provision of a 1996 law. “The law, which required the EPA inform people about possible hazards to their health brought about by consuming pesticides with their food. It ordered EPA to publish and distribute in grocery stores plain-English brochures that discussed the risks and benefits of pesticides on food. These brochures were to offer recommendations so shoppers could reduce their dietary exposures to pesticides. The agency published such a brochure in 1999, but it failed to detail the actual risks of pesticide exposures and give consumers clear information about the foods with the most pesticide
            residues to help them reduce their exposures. EPA stopped publishing it altogether in 2007..” according to the EWG.

            Back in 2006, the Bush-Cheney administration allowed corporations to remove any studies they did not like from the EPA libraries and closed the libraries. The Public Employees for Environmental Regulations sent press releases to the media on these events. http://www.peer.org/news/news-releases/2006/10/30/stealth-closure-of-principal-epa-chemical-library/ This occurred before Congress was notified. P.E.E.R. says the long term goal was to eliminate the US EPA.

            “Today, EPA offers some information about pesticides and food on its website.
            But it does not list foods likely to contain the highest amounts of pesticide residues nor those that pose the greatest dangers to human health. Most importantly, the EPA does not offer the “right to know” information Congress required on behalf of consumers in 1996: how to avoid pesticide exposures while still eating a healthy diet.

            That’s where EWG comes in. Because the EPA has not complied with the
            Congressional mandate in full, for more than a decade EWG has published
            an annual guide to help people eat healthy and reduce their exposure to
            pesticides in produce. ” This information is at the Environmental Working Group website for the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php




            0
      2. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/ The Environmental Working Group’s
        2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.™

        Factory farmed livestock are fed soy and corn, both of which have been genetically engineered (or modified) to resist Roundup herbicide, but other herbicides as well, including but not limited to dicamba, 2,4-D, and glufosinate. http://isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/10/default.aspGlufosinate was used with LibertyLink corn and the fields were so contaminated that many countries won’t accept any corn grown on those fields. Plus the toxicity of the LibertyLink corn. This is because of the genetically engineered LibertyLink corn, according to retired professor Don Huber (from) Purdue University and consultant to many farmers. Dr. Huber has read a mountain of studies from all over the world when he comes making his conclusions. He cited LibertyLink in an interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola in October of 2013.




        0
      3. Brec, “..In 2009 alone, approximately 1.5 million American men, women, and children were diagnosed with cancer, and 562,000 died from the disease. With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented through appropriate national action. To jumpstart this national effort, The President’s Cancer Panel (authorized by President Bush) dedicated its
        2008–2009 activities to examining the impact of environmental factors on cancer risk. The Panel considered industrial, occupational, and agricultural exposures as well as exposures related to medical practice, military activities, modern lifestyles, and natural sources. In addition, key regulatory, political, industrial, and cultural barriers to understanding and reducing environmental and occupational carcinogenic exposures were identified. The attached report
        presents the Panel’s recommendations to mitigate or eliminate these barriers.
        The Panel was particularly concerned to find that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated. With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are un- or understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is
        widespread…”
        On pages 11 and 12 is an introduction on “Exposure to Contaminants from Agricultural Sources.” On page 56, cited is “Atrazine, a widely used herbicide believed to have endocrine-disrupting and possible carcinogenic properties, was banned by the EU in October 2003 because of its ubiquitous
        and unpreventable water contamination.109 The same month, the EPA approved the continued use of atrazine in the U.S…”

        “Exposure to Contaminants from Agricultural Sources” [chapter 2] starts on page 77 of the original report.

        On page 83, “Phosphate fertilizers are often contaminated with cadmium and are responsible for significant cadmium soil and water contamination. Fertilized soils have been found to have two to six times the cadmium concentration of nearby unfertilized land.24 In the food supply, cadmium is most highly concentrated in grains and seafood. For decades, residents of Southern Louisiana have had pancreatic cancer rates markedly higher than the national average.2
        Cadmium appears to be the common factor in the research which has demonstrated an association of rural residence, dietary factors (high
        consumption of rice, seafood, and pork), and cigarette smoking with higher pancreatic cancer risk, particularly among persons of Acadian (Cajun) ancestry.247 This is because rice fields are treated with cadmium containing phosphate fertilizers which are taken up by the rice, the predominant starch in Cajun diets. Then, the fields are flooded again for the growing of crawfish (crayfish)….Urinary cadmium excretion levels in studied Louisiana pancreatic cancer patients have been found to be more than four-fold higher than control subjects..”
        More at: http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/annualReports/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf




        0
      4. Though Daniel was speaking figuratively you chose to argue a few of his words literally. He didn’t say “dangerous levels”, those are your words. He said “concern”. You’re putting words in other people’s mouths and arguing about them. Troll. Though I’m sure you have absolutely no interest in learning anything I’m posting this to show there is a “concern” about pesticides in produce. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2984095/




        0
  2. And another epic video.

    Yes, you are closing out the year in top form. I hope you continue to publish more on today’s topic, as far as how foods, beverages, ingredients, additives, sweeteners, etc. effect the brain and mood.




    0
  3. Is Erythritol, another no calorie sugar alternative, still clear for take off? Is this a safe sugar alternative? (My local vegan store started selling date syrup recently, which is made from 100% dates. Any chance of a review in the future? Looks like date syrup isn’t anything new.)




    0
    1. Dr. Greger’s last video on erythritol in 2012: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/erythritol-may-be-a-sweet-antioxidant/ was positive on the sweetener and hopefully he’ll let us know if that changes.

      As far as the date syrup, I guess it would depend on whether or not the entire date is used. Dr. Greger talks about date sugar being an excellent whole food sweetener because it’s 100% whole ground dates. Not knowing how the packaged date syrup is sold – it could be made from 100% dates but have the fiber removed – I did a quick search and found a recipe to make date syrup at home that calls for soaking whole dates and then blending them with some water to make a honey-like paste – so this too would be a whole food sweetener akin to date sugar but instead of being dusty like date sugar it would be spreadable. Sounds like something I want to try!




      0
      1. It seems too clear and sweet to be simply ground. The ingredients says just dates though.

        More research indicates that there’s nothing new about this syrup, though it’s the first time I’ve seen or heard of it. Shouldn’t be too hard to figure out how they make it.

        Yes, they simply boil dates and then strain it. So, most of the fiber is gone. I imagine it’s not much more healthy than plain sugar, though I’d love to know I’m very incorrect here. :)




        0
        1. Tobias: After you posted about it the first time, I took a look at their website. It was interesting in that they say that the product has *nothing* added to it – not even water. So, I’m thinking that they are starting out with fresh, wet-style dates and squeezing out the juice like one would to make orange juice. I don’t know this for a fact. I’m just guessing. I’m definitely curious what sort of processing they go through to make it.




          0
          1. My neighbor from Egypt who runs a food shop explained to me once that they have these unbelievable dates (maybe in Egypt) that have a thin crusty exterior and an interior that’s very gooey, like a nectar that pours out like honey. Though I’ve never seen these and I’ve looked for them on YouTube.




            0
      2. And how about Truvía sold in big boxes at CostCo? First ingredient is erythritol, second: Stevia. MUCH less expensive that Whole Foods packages of ZERO, their erythritol. Thank you all, and now KWD for your responses!




        0
        1. Thanks for mentioning this. I’m tired of paying so much for E. And spelling it’s a bitch too. Seems Stevia isn’t rated badly. And the word sounds very cool, like hey gal, where’s your Stevia?




          0
        2. I would suggest Organic Sugar Cane as a sweetener as well I really think is less processed than the others. I live in Costa Rica and here there is a lot of sugar cane




          0
        3. I would suggest Organic Sugar Cane as a sweetener as well I really think
          is less processed than the others. I live in Costa Rica and here there
          is a lot of sugar cane, or the other option would be to get use to bitter taste foods or drinks and not use sugar at all.




          0
  4. Dr. Greger, I hope you’ll continue the research on aspartame. I’ve suffered from constant tingling of my feet, hands, and face since January. Doctor’s diagnosis is peripheral neuropathy of unknown cause, but I’ve recently learned that aspartame can also cause these symptoms, as well as tinnitus, light sensitivity, and memory problems. I’ve been aspartame-free for 3 weeks, but I’ve read that it can take as long as 60 days before the symptoms improve. For more information, see:

    http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dailys/03/Jan03/012203/02P-0317_emc-000199.txt




    0
    1. Gluten can also cause peripheral neuropathy! There is a really great description of this in Grain Brain by David Perlmutter M.D. Dr. Tom O’Brien also talks about similar effects of gluten. Good luck!




      0
    2. Don’t mix any fats with starches or carbs. Eat fruit alone. Eat beans (no soy) with greens, steamed vegetables. But if you are going to eat nuts or seeds, eat small amounts, and sparingly. No added oils either. This has helped me. Low fat, lots of fruit, no sugar or sweeteners (even the natural sweeteners and dried fruit.




      0
    3. Dr. Greger might suggest that saturated fat or cholesterol from animals could also be to blame. “This study indicated that, in all probability, MS is caused largely by consumption of saturated animal fat.” Perhaps MS, Parkinsons, Fibromalgia, and other neurological disorders are caused by eating animal product. The vegan diet was so effective, it was a cure. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-multiple-sclerosis-with-the-swank-ms-diet/




      0
  5. Just found out the migraine medicine I take, generic Maxalt-MLT, Rizatriptan, contains aspartame! Now I’d like to know who the nut case is that thought it a good idea to include a neurotoxin in a migraine preparation…




    0
  6. “It may also matter what goes into the coffee.” Nothing whatsoever should go into the coffee. If somebody doesn’t like the taste of black coffee all by itself — and must douse it up with cow’s milk (the combo is bad for digestion), cream, or sweeteners of any kind — they shouldn’t be drinking coffee in the first place.




    0
    1. Original Ovaltine Barley malt extract (73%), milk serum concentrate, fat-reduced cocoapowder (8%), sugar, calcium carbonate, rapeseed oil, magnesium carbonate, vitamins (C, E, niacin, A, pantothenic acid, B12, B6, B2, B1, folic acid, biotin), iron, zinc sulphate, salt.




      0
  7. Dr. Greger is hoping to improve American mental health through his natural whole foods diets. He has another video on sweeteners were he suggests that Erythriol from pears is the only healthy artificial sweetener. This site says that artificial sweeteners are bad for your stomach cultures, and those are very important for mood. I drink more than ten cups of tea a day of various kinds, sometimes 15 or 20. All sweetened with splenda, which is bad for me and my be causing my lower body pain. Perhaps saturated fat and artificial sweeteners work together to cause joint pain by clogging pores in the body. I am so happy to hear that six cups of coffee a day can improve mood, ward of depression, and battle mental illness. I am sure that means it makes you live longer because attitude is everything. In order to cause an emotionally healthy delta brain wave, which caffeine can cause, perhaps you should eat a grapefruit or have near your bed a seed you can identify. This can improve your mood dramatically. Whole grain also can also help the stomach and intestines nerves to make you feel better. They are a mirror of your thoughts. I like drinking matcha tea and having a sweetgum fruit with me. It causes me to have alpha and delta brain waves so pleasurable I nearly pass out! The first thing they teach psychology majors is that people who have happy marriages live 15 years longer than the single.




    0
  8. Dr. Greger
    Perhaps the most thorough studies about the effects of
    artificial sweeteners (specifically, aspartame) have been done by W.C.
    Monte, Professor Emeritus of Food Sciences and Nutrition at Arizona State University.
    Now retired, Monte led the research for about 30 years and has produced a
    book and a website by the same name, “While Science Sleeps”. The website
    provides the layman with sufficient knowledge to make intelligent
    decisions on what to induce into their bodies, or not. Monte’s theory is that
    methanol and its metabolite, formaldehyde, are directly responsible for
    much of the diseases of civilization (DOC) including M.S., autism,
    Alzheimer’s. Briefly, methanol is one of the ingredients of aspartame
    and is also found in smoked meats, and tobacco products, canned foods
    and other sources. As the methanol breaks down formaldehyde is free to
    do its job on the cells in the body such as in the lungs of tobacco
    smokers or in the nasal/oral cavities of smokeless tobacco users. Monte
    has provided about 700 studies done medical or research personnel to
    validate his theories. His work is worth consideration, he has covered
    just about every aspect of the controversy: http://www.whilesciencesleeps.com/
    For the smokeless tobacco users a graphic presentation of what can happen:
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/addiction-to-smokeless-tobacco-in-america/5309841
    http://dontdip.tamu.edu/index1.html




    0
  9. Professor Woodrow C. Monte, Food Science and Nutrition, Arizona State University, retired 2004, gives 782 free online full text references for his breakthrough paradigm since fall 2007 at his site WhileScienceSleeps — humans are the only creatures at severe risk of harm from methanol (22 mg in each can of aspartame diet drink), which stays in the blood with half-life 3 hours and so reaches every cell in the adult and fetus — methanol is made by ADH1 enzyme into uncontrolled formaldehyde right inside the cells of 20 specific tissues, and this harm gradually becomes most modern new chronic “diseases of civilization” — methanol also comes from wood and cigarette smoke, fresh tomatoes and black currants, and unfresh fruits juices vegetables preserved wet in sealed cans and jars at room temperature — scientists like Rong Qiao He of Peking, China are publishing research in 2014, using the Monte paradigm in proving the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease — ethanol (ordinary drinking alcohol) is a strong antidote, so those who never drink have twice the harm from methanol as those who drink just once a day — diabetes 2 is a methanol formaldehyde toxicity disease…




    0
  10. There are no health benefits to artificial sweeteners – surely artificial sweeteners didn’t solve the obesity problem in America or Europe, and there are concerns regarding safety. Solution: Ban the stuff. Period. Ohh… I forgot, there are money involved…..




    0
    1. Sounds like an all-or-nothing fallacy to me. Can you demonstrate good evidence against the reasonably plausible idea that the introduction of calorie-free-sweeteners at least helps some people to limit obesity? What about the prevention of dental caries as another possible avenue of benefit?




      0
      1. @largelytrue–
        Logical fallacies are best exhibited through full context. For example, loss of tooth enamel and even teeth involves many factors, but chief among them is the demonstrated effect of adding various sugars to promote growth of certain oral bacteria. Tooth decay does not make a case for a fluoride deficiency or establish a role for artificial sweeteners in the diet, nor is it a logical fallacy to conclude they have no essential function in human nutrition.

        Obesity reduction and prevention, likewise, does not exhibit the essential safety of Aminosweet to shed a few pounds, long-term. And a whole-food, plant-based diet in traditional cultures accomplishes effective weight control, with centuries of hazard-free use. The logical fallacy is to propose the artificial sweetener accomplishes the same obesity protection, with the same level of risk.




        0
  11. I had severe headaches, memory problems, and my eyes became really out of focus from consuming only one pkt per day of aspartame in my coffee. My eyes were checked and a new prescription was written, but the vision problems still worsened. Then, one day after reading a finding from a registered nurse who was on a multiple chemicals sensitivities list with me, I thought perhaps it was the Equal (aspartame) that may have caused the problems. I discarded all packages and NEVER bought anything with aspartame in it again, and guess what happened. After 6 months my vision returned to near normal for me. Still poor, but I could drive without glasses but just needed glasses for reading. That was then, perhaps 10-12 years ago. Today, since my spinal fractures, my vision has become increasingly worse even though no sugars, nor artificial sweeteners are in my body. Now, I cannot do anything that requires good vision without my bifocals. But, the headaches left after I stopped ingesting aspartame.
    Aspartame was once made by Monsanto, who owned the manufacturing company about the same time that Michael Taylor, then a lobbyist for Monsanto, joined the FDA. He is at the FDA again going through the revolving doors from industry to the FDA and back again, due to his appointment by President Obama during Obama’s first term. Taylor seems to make policy at the FDA when it comes to anyone petitioning the agency to remove aspartame from the market. He keeps it there. Taylor also permitted Neotame to be used in stevia AND added to the feed of factory farmed livestock. Neotame has even more neurological symptoms than aspartame.
    During that time period, I stopped using anything including meat with artificial ingredients. Taylor urged and received neotame to be considered as a “natural” ingredient in the food for people and feed for animals, even though it is genetically engineered and created by his company’s own scientists. Big conflicts of interest at the FDA, and government in general. Our government is broken in that it only protects corporations and their products from scientific studies, not the victims of their products or public health.




    0
  12. There is a lot of literature about benefits of coffee and tea. But is there a study of comparing the benefits of tea and coffee relative to drinking plain water ? If every day people drink lots of water instead of tea & coffee, perhaps the health benefits of drinking lots of water will even exceed those heavy coffee & tea drinkers.




    0
    1. I have always understood that it takes water to flush out the impurities from the body. But here is another aspect of water.

      Preventing cellular dehydration is integral to hormonal, immune, neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, muscle and skeletal function. ……….. The problem is that other beverages are not as hydrating. The levels of sodium, sugars, and amino acids in milk and juice can shrink cells and trigger the release of the hormone that signals dehydration.

      Even doctors often apparently fail to realize the connection. A recent study found that healthcare professionals under-recognized the importance of proper hydration for mental health. Who would care enough about the importance of human hydration to even do a survey? The European Hydration Institute, founded in part by The Coco Cola company.

      Significant improvement in cognitive performance, but not with coke. And not with Ritalin or some new drug, either, just plain water. Think how much drug companies could make if they could sell sugar pills but just tell kids to take the fake pill with… a glass of water. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/does-a-drink-of-water-make-children-smarter/




      0
      1. Very true. Drinking lots of water also may help weight loss. I used to drink a lot of beer and could not kick the habit until I discovered a “Trick”. 1/2 hour before going to store to buy beer, I would drink excess amount of water. My desire for beer would completely go away and now I seldom drink.




        1
        1. @Ray Tajoma–

          Outstanding insight– and the field experience to demonstrate its value.

          Interesting that your beer-hunting missions involved a mind-body committee decision– the committee reached full consensus, but with different objectives. Hydration of the body was the primary, conscious objective, but enjoyment of the beer was the payoff for that “reptilian brain” we wear, daily.

          The brain is a devious, rationalizing beast, and little wonder major religions and philosophies urge handing executive control to the mind, instead..




          0
  13. Another great video, Dr. G. Thank you for bringing clarity to these controversial subjects. I love having an educated response to those who claim that aspartame has been ‘proven to be completely safe’! Go plant foods!




    0
  14. My husband is sensitive to aspartame. Even though he drinks junkie & processed beverages we always read the label. We have discovered that most kids drinks like Hawaiian Punch and sunny D contain a cocktail of asculfame K/potassium and Sucralose…could there be a correlation on the epidemic of depression and add in kids and artificial sweeteners in their drinks??? After all, big Pharma cashes in big on troubled kids.




    0
  15. Research in the journal Nature recently demonstrated that artificial sweeteners (sucralose, sacharrin and aspartame) kill gut bacteria and exacerbate matabolic disease. “A team… fed mice various sweeteners — saccharin, sucralose and aspartame — and found that after 11 weeks, the animals displayed glucose intolerance, a marker of propensity for metabolic disorders.”.

    Maybe this affect on the gut also causes an impact on the brain as you point out?

    http://www.nature.com/news/sugar-substitutes-linked-to-obesity-1.15938

    Yet another fantastic video Dr. Greger for which we are all very grateful. So, thanks again – keep it up!




    0
    1. @Dave–
      Do you ask that in a rhetorical sense? Some research does the rough equivalent of the “pain scale” used in medical treatment to assess and adjust for pain. Subjective, yes, but pain experts (reluctantly) have concluded that “subjective” pain can be real, nonetheless.

      In defining and measuring the experience of depression, researchers emphasize consistency and relevance as the best benchmarks for diagnostic tools.




      0
  16. I need to read that paper, but comparing “sugar and honey” as the same category seems inadequate in my opinion. Refined sugar should not be compared to honey. I have not read the paper yet though. Since I drink my coffee black and tea plain, I suppose it really doesn’t matter, but I am curious.




    0
  17. Since the company that produces Aspartame, would not sell it to ethical researchers, for review and study, what more proof does one need to know, that Aspartame is poison, and should be treated by everyone as such !




    0
  18. Whole foods are the way to go, but beware of GM foods, and those that are not organic, which may contain loads of sprayed on chemicals of all sorts ! Lt’s hear it for chemicals on and in our foods — Errrrrgh, Yeeech !




    0
  19. You know, once you quit processed foods (almost entirely) and quit drinking super-sweet (real or fake) sodas/tea and get over the SUGAR addiction, you’ll have no need for any such “fake sweeteners” and have to consider all the negatives they tend to bring to health.

    Everything gets sweeter when you forgo the white stuff, fake or natural or the “original” granulated sort. It’s something one must experience to actually understand. I’m so glad Dr. G and his supporting staff/fans helped me find my way to the “other side”. Food never tasted better. Namaste.




    0
  20. The video on aspartame has me stumped with references to Equal and Sweet-n-Low. Sweet-n-Low is not aspartame, it is saccharin. So, why does a video about aspartame include a saccharin product? I’m not promoting Sweet-n-Low consumption, but it makes me question the overall veracity of information when a product is presented as an example of the subject matter when it is not.




    0
  21. Hi Lisa, although the title of the video says Aspartame, the content refers to all artificial sweeteners as do the references cited. Perhaps the title should be as inclusive as the actual video itself.




    0
  22. Hi, I do think your web site could be having internet browser compatibility problems.
    Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it has some
    overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you
    with a quick heads up! Other than that, wonderful website!




    0
  23. .
    THE ASPARTAME HABITUATE’S TALE
    .
    Outstanding commentary from Dr. Greger, covering all bases, as usual. The reason I know he has been judicious with the evidence is I faced a mild habituation to Diet CocaCola years ago, when I had to work long hours under pressure with little sleep (3-5 hours nightly). For all the stress, I might as well have been in medical school, or in continuous combat.

    Only a shot of nearly frozen, aspartame and caffeine-laced cola was strong enough to make my eyes sparkle for a few nanoseconds each morning. The caffeine quickly wore off, but the aspartame endured through the rest of the day, leaving me somewhat moody and down toward late afternoon. Some days I was simply exhausted, but dismissed the effect as chronic lack of sleep. Now, the research tells me it was not only my fatigue.

    A kindly co-worker suggested my chugging diet cola was not the best thing, pointing to a series of articles that set me on a binge of discovery about aspartame. Anecdotal warning flags were everywhere– airline pilots reported career-grounding seizures, and MidEast troops drank the stuff by the tanker-full after it had been left under broiling sun for hours, only to report strange, possibly neural dysfunctions and unexpected disease rates. Early studies, left incomplete, featured grotesque rat tumors and abnormal numbers of dead pups among rat litters. As the professional research drifted in, federal administrators faced a regulation issue– to research further, or to approve as soon as possible.

    From a variety of sources, I uncovered a developmental history to aspartame (Aminosweet) that left me astonished that anything so full of questions, if not outright hazard– coupled with political interference from the manufacturer to overlook incomplete research and seriously alarming results– should have been approved by USDA and FDA administrators as a long-term part of any consumer diet.

    A chemically “rewired” brain is a terrible thing to risk, especially when we know so little about epigenetic controls for gene expression and disease risk and the intricacies of signaling in the body and brain, itself. Better living through chemistry begins with deep knowledge of (and respect for) our own biochemistry and our requirements– not merely minimums and tolerances– for completely healthy function.




    0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This