By Deane Alban
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
Artificial sweeteners have always been bad news for your health. They are suspected of causing many serious health problems including memory loss, brain tumors, and Alzheimer’s.
Ironically, they aren’t making us any thinner, either!
The US Food & Drug Administration recently announced their approval of a new artificial sweetener – Advantame. Since it’s made from aspartame (a known neurotoxin and carcinogen) there is no reason to believe this latest sweetener will be any better for your health, your waistline, or your brain function.
Let’s take a look at what is known about this new “high intensity” sweetener.
They thought they could improve on aspartame, so by adding the artificial flavor vanillin they developed a “new and improved” version called Advantame.
Here are the reported “benefits” of Advantame:
1) It’s 20,000 times sweeter than sugar. By comparison, aspartame, sucralose and saccharin range from 200 to 700 times sweeter than table sugar. “High-intensity” (not “artificial” sweetener) is now the preferred industry term.
Data courtesy of Wikipedia.com
2) It does not break down when exposed to high heat. It has been approved for use in baked goods, soft drinks, frozen desserts, and the like – foods that have little place in a healthy diet anyway.
3) According to the manufacturer, it has a “clean, sweet taste very similar to aspartame”. As if that’s a selling point…
According to the FDA, 37 studies, including both human and animal studies, were reviewed before the decision to put Advantame on the market was made.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reports that the number of mice that survived to the end of a key cancer study was below FDA’s own scientific recommendations.
… but the FDA has approved the additive anyway.
Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right
It’s too soon to have reported side effects for this sweetener. But let’s take a look at its two components — aspartame and vanillin.
Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol.
- Aspartic acid elevates levels of aspartate and glutamate, brain neurotransmitters. Aspartate and glutamate are “excitotoxins,” meaning that in high amounts they “excite” or stimulate brain cells to death.
- Phenylalanine is an amino acid normally found in the brain. Ingesting aspartame can lead to excess levels of phenylalanine in the brain which disturbs the normal balance of an important brain chemical, serotonin.
- Methanol is wood alcohol, the kind of alcohol that is extremely poisonous.
Currently, there are 92 categories of complaints filed against aspartame with the FDA.
MedicineNet.com reports that out of 166 studies on aspartame, 100% of those funded by the manufacturer confirmed aspartame’s safety, while 92% of the independently funded studies found it was unsafe.
According to the American Cancer Society: “Claims have been made that aspartame is related to health effects ranging from mild problems such as headache, dizziness, digestive symptoms, and changes in mood, to more serious health issues such as Alzheimer disease, birth defects, diabetes, Gulf War syndrome, attention deficit disorders, Parkinson disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and seizures.”
Vanillin is a synthetic version of the natural flavor vanilla which is made from a species of orchid seed pods.
The demand for this universally loved flavor has always exceeded production so there have been many processes over the years for manufacturing fake vanilla flavor.
Currently, some vanillin is made from lignin, a byproduct of the paper and wood pulp industries. But, most vanillin is made from guaiacol, a petrochemical precursor.
Coming Soon to a Store Near You!
Besides having been approved in the US, Advantame has also been approved for general use in Australia and New Zealand. Final approvals are pending in Japan and in the European Union (EU).
Interesting it got approved here before it did in its country of origin — Japan.
Advantame is not a brand name; it’s a generic term. When it starts being used in our food supply, it almost certainly will have a brand name similar to Sweet and Low, Splenda, orEqual.
So right now I can’t tell you exactly what you’ll need to watch out for. But the best way to avoid this and all other potentially dangerous food additives is to stick with eating “real food.” And if you must eat something in a box or a package, read the label very carefully.
Updated September 2014
- FDA Approves a New Artificial Sweetener LATimes.com
- Advantame Product Information Aji-Aspartame.com
- FDA Approves New Sweetener, Advantame CSPInet.org
- Aspartame Cancer.org
- Aspartame: By Far the Most Dangerous Substance Added to Most Foods Today Mercola.com
- What is Vanillin? HoneyandSpice.wordpress.com
Previous articles by Deane:
- 10 Food Tips To Get Off the Poor Sleep Treadmill
- Experience the Brain Benefits of Do-It-Yourself Biofeedback
- 5 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Enough Vitamin D.. and What You Can Do About It
- Five Common Food Additives That Can Damage Your Brain
- Food Scams and Myths: Why Quality Matters
- The Alarming Truth About Supermarket Meat
- 18 Choices You Make Every Day That Keep You Up at Night
- Can’t Get the Hang of Meditation? Try This Instead
- Stress, Telomeres, and the Secret to Prevent Aging
- 20 Common Medications That Can Cause Memory Loss
- 5 Common Food Additives That Are Toxic to Your Brain
- The ABCs of Vitamins for Memory and Brain Health
- Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Brain
Contributing writer Deane Alban holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and has taught and written on a wide variety of natural health topics for over 20 years. Her current focus is helping people overcome brain fog, “senior moments”, and other signs of mental decline now, and preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia in the future.
The human brain is designed to last a lifetime, but modern life takes a greater toll on the brain than most people realize. Deane teaches the best ways to keep your brain healthy and stay mentally sharp for life at her website BeBrainFit.com.