Is Aspartame Safe?

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Processed sugar and HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup) are not the only sweeteners to be avoided. There are sweeteners such as Aspartame, which are linked to potentially harmful health effects.

Aspartame itself has no calories, so it couldn’t possibly contribute to increased body weight, right? Well, this is where things get really interesting. Some studies suggest that Aspartame may increase hunger. Increased appetite may then result in greater caloric intake and increased risk of obesity. Other studies show the opposite effects making the effect of aspartame on appetite inconclusive.

Short-term studies have shown that Aspartame has some negative health effects such as migraines. Also, it is unclear what the long-term health effects are. Aspartame may hide behind brand names such as NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure, but it still accounts for 75 percent of adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA according to Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D. in Get the Sugar Out.

Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame, etc.), HFCS, sugar and agave syrup should be avoided on a healthy diet

Based on an article from 2008 published by Sharon Fowler in the journal Obesity (Fueling the obesity epidemic? Artificially sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain), individuals who consume diet soft drinks are at an increased risk of overweight and obesity than those who don't. The risk of obesity continued to increase dramatically with increased consumption of 'diet' soft drinks and was independent of other factors like exercise, smoking or socioeconomic status. This epidemiological study doesn’t prove that diet soft drinks cause obesity. To be more precise, people who drink more diet soft drinks may also have other behaviours that put them at increased risk of gaining weight. However, the results are still pretty surprising. There are other studies that claim the opposite. How is that possible? There is, of course, a strong financial interest to dilute the real effects of Aspartame. Based on a survey of studies regarding the safety of Aspartame, there is an obvious correlation between the outcome of the studies and the source of their funding: Non-Industry Funded vs Industry Funded

In a nutshell, Aspartame may cause bloating, sugar cravings, weight gain, impaired appearance of cellulite. Some say it may be linked to cancer but there is no evidence of such claim. Aspartame is commonly found in sweeteners (syrups, sugar substitutes, etc.), sugar-free products, cooking sauces, cereals, diet sodas (Diet coke, etc.), sugar-free yogurts, flavored water, drink powders (beware of some protein powders that contain Aspartame) but even children's medicines and toothpastes.

So, which sweeteners are the healthiest yet low in carbs?

There are many sweeteners that can be used on a low-carb diet. Have a look at my post Complete Guide To Sweeteners on Low-carb Ketogenic Diet to find out which sweeteners are the healthiest and lowest in net carbs.

Independent research on Aspartame safety

Data based on the now defunct http://www.dorway.com/nonindus.html

Research Adverse Reactions Identified
1975, Olney JW, Aspartame as a Sweetener. NEJM 1975;292(23):1244-1245., Funded by: Washington University
1977, Mishiro Y and Keneko H, Effect of a Dipeptide, Aspartame, on Lactic Acid Production in Human Whole Saliva. J Dent Res 1977;56(11):1427., Funded by: Nippon Dental University, Tokyo
1979, Brunner RL, Vorhees CV, Kinney L, Butcher RE, et al., Aspartame: Assessment of Developmental Psychotoxicity of a New Artificial Sweetener. Neurobehavioral Toxicology 1979;1:79-86., Funded by: USFDA
1980, Olney, Brain Damage in Mice from Voluntary Ingestion of Glutamate and Aspartate. Neurobehavioral Toxicology and Teratology 1980;2:125-129., Funded by: Washington University
1982, Uribe, Potential Toxicity of a New Sugar Substitute in Patients with Liver Disease. N Engl J Med 1982;173-174., Funded by: Institute National De La Nutrition ­ Mexico
1983, Wurtman, Effects of Aspartame and Glucose on Rat Brain Amino Acids and Serotin. New England Journal of Medicine 1983;309(7):429-430., Funded by: M.I.T.
1983, Wurtman RJ, Neurological Changes Following High Dose Aspartame with Dietary Carbohydrates. N Engl J Med 1983;309(7):429-430., Funded by: M.I.T.
1984, Olney, Excitotoxic Food Additives ­ Relevance of Animal Studies to Human Safety. Neurobehavioral Toxicology and Teratology 1984;6:455-562., Funded by: Research Scientist Award MH-38894
1984, Monte, Aspartame: Methanol and the Public Health. J Appl Nutr 36(1):42-54., Funded by: Arizona State University
1984, Yokogoshi H,k Roberts CH, Canballero B, Wuetman RJ, Effects of Aspartame and Glucose Administration on Brain and Plasma Levels of Large Neutral Amino Acids and Brain 5-Hydroxyindoles. Amer J Clin Nutr 1984;40:1-7., Funded by: M.I.T.
1984, Mahalik MP and Gautieri RF, Reflex Responsiveness of CF-1 Mouse Neonates Following Maternal Aspartame Exposure. Research Communications in Psychology, Psychiatry & Behavior 1984;9(4):385-403., Funded by: None Specified
1985, Novick, Aspartame Induced Granulomatous Panniculitis. Ann Int Med 102(2):206-207., Funded by: Mt. Sinai Medical Center
1985, Grobelny D and Galardy RE, A Metabolite of Aspartame Inhibits Angiotensin Converting Enzyme. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 1985; 128(2):960-964., Funded by: University of Kentucky
1985, Wurtman, RJ, Aspartame: Possible Effects on Seizure Susceptibility. Lancet 1985;2(8463):1060., Funded by: M.I.T.
1985, Ferguson JM, Interaction of Aspartame and Carbohydrates in an Eating Disordered Patient. Am J Psych 1985 Feb;142(2):271., Funded by: None
1986, Kulczycki A Jr., Aspartame ­ Induced Urticaria. Ann Intern Med 1986;104(2):207-208., Funded by: N.I.H.
1986, Pardridge WM, The Safety of Aspartame [Letter]. JAMA 1986;256(19):2678., Funded by: UCLA School of Medicine
1986, Koehler SM, A New Dietary Caution for Migraine Sufferers. Dir in Appl Nut 1986;1:1-7., Funded by: Center for Brain Sciences and Metabolism U of FL.
1986, Kiritsky PJ and Maher TJ, Acute Effects of Aspartame on Systolic Blood Pressure in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. J Neural Transmission 1986;66(2):121-128., Funded by: National Institute of Neurological, Communicative Diseases and Stroke
1986, Yokogoshi H and Wurtman RJ, Acute Effects of Oral or Parenteral Aspartame on Catecholamine Metabolism in Various Regions of Rat Brain. J Nutr 1986;116:356-364., Funded by: M.I.T.
1986, Walton, Seizure and Mania After High Intake of Aspartame. Psychosomatics 27:218-220., Funded by: Chautauqua County Dept of Mental Health
1986, Drake ME, Panic Attacks and Excessive Aspartame Ingestion [Letter]. Lancet 1986;2(8507):631., Funded by: None
1986, Johns DR, Migrane Provoked by Aspartame. New Eng J Medicine 1986;315(7):456., Funded by: None
1986, Blundell JE, Hill AJ, Paradoxical Effects of an Intense Sweetener Aspartame on Appetite. Lancet 1986;1(8489):1092-3., Funded by: None
1986, Caballero B, Mahon BE, Rohr FJ, Levy HL, Wurtman RJ, et. al., Plasma Amino Acid Levels after Single Dose Aspartame Consumption in Phenylketonuria Mild Hyperphenylalaninemia and Heterozygous State for Phenylketonuria. Journal of Pediatrics 1986;109(4):668-671., Funded by: National Institute of Neurological, Communicate Diseases and Stroke
1986, Bradstock MK, Serdula MK, Marks IS, et al., Evaluation of Reactions to Food Additives: The Aspartame Experience. AM J Clin Nutr 1986 Mar;43(3):464-9., Funded by: Federal Government
1986, Coulombe RA Jr., Sharma RP, Neurobiochemical Alterations Induced by the Artificial Sweetener Aspartame. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 1986;83(1):79-85., Funded by: Utah State University
1987, Wurtman RJ, Aspartame Effects on Brain Serotonin. Am J Clin Nutr 1987 Apr;45(4):799-803., Funded by: M.I.T.
1987, Maher TJ and Wurtman RJ, Possible Neurologic Effects of Aspartame, a Widely Used Food Additive. Environmental Health Perspectives 1987;75:53-57., Funded by: M.I.T. & Federal Government
1987, Drogari E, Smith I, Beasley M, Lloyd JK, Timing of Strict Diet in Relation to Fetal Damage in Maternal Phenylketonuria: An International Collaborative Study by the MRC/DHSS Phenylketonuria Register. Lancet 1987;2(8565):927-30., Funded by: Institute of Child Health
1987, Elsas, et al., Changes in Physiological Concentrations of Blood Phenylalanine Produce Changes in Human Brain Function. Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function Birkhauser Boston 1988;187-195., Funded by: Emory University
1988, Roberts: Neurological, Psychiatric and Behavioral Reactions to Aspartame in 505 Aspartame Reactors. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 373-376., Funded by: Palm Beach Institute for Medical Research
1988, Pinto and Maher, Aspartame, Phenylalanine and Seizures in Experimental Animals. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 95-103., Funded by: National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Diseases and Stroke
1988, Roberts, Reactions Attributed to Aspartame ­ Containing Products: 551 Cases. Journal of Applied Nutrition 1988;40:85-94., Funded by: Palm Beach Institute for Medical Research
1988, Roberts, Neurological Psychiatric and Behavioral Reactions to Aspartame in 505 Aspartame Reactors. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 373-376., Funded by: None
1988, Wurtman and Maher, Calculation of the Aspartame Dose for Rodents that Produces Neurochemical Effects Comparable to Those Occurring in People. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 144-148., Funded by: M.I.T.
1988, Pinto JM, Mahea TJ, Administration of Aspartame Potentiates Pentylenetetrazole and Fluorothyl-Induced Seizures in Mice. Neuropharmacology 1988;27(1):51-55., Funded by: Massachusetts College of Pharmacy
1988, Walton, The Possible Role of Aspartame in Seizure Induction. Proceedings of the first International Conference on Phenylalanine and the Brain. Wurtman RJ, Walker E (eds.), Center for Brain Sciences and Metabolism Charitable Trust, Cambridge, 1987., Funded by: Chautauqua County Dept of Mental Health
1988, Tollefson L, Monitoring Adverse Reactions to Food Additives in the US Food and Drug Administration. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 1988;8(4):438-446., Funded by: FDA
1988, Olney, Excitotoxic Food Additives ­ Functional Teratological Aspects. In Progress in Brain Research, Vol 73 ­ Biochemical Basis of Functional Neuroteratology: Permanent Effects of Chemical on the Developing Brain, edited by Boer, GJ, et al., Elsevier, New York 1988., Funded by: Washington University
1988, Tollefson L, Monitoring of Adverse Reactions to Aspartame Reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 317-326., Funded by: FDA
1988, Steinmetzer and Kunkel, Aspartame and Headache [letter]. N Engl J Med 1988;318(18):1201., Funded by: Cleveland Clinic
1988, Spiers, et al., Aspartame and Human Behavior: Cognitive and Behavioral Observations. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 169-178., Funded by: Center for Brain Sciences and Metabolism Charitable Trust
1988, Sardesai, et. al., Effect of Aspartame in Diabetic Rats. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 265-268., Funded by: Wayne State University
1988, Matalon, et. al., Aspartame Consumption in Normal Individuals and Carriers for Phenylketonuria. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 41-52., Funded by: N.I.H. and The University of Illinois
1988, Guiso G, Caccia S, Vezzani A, et. al., Effect of Aspartame on Seizures in Various Models of Experimental Epilepsy. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 1988;96:485-493., Funded by: Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Via Eritrea
1988, Johns, Aspartame and Headache. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 303-312., Funded by: Johns Hopkins University
1988, Fernstrom, Effects of Aspartame Ingestion on Large Neutral Amino Acids and Monoamine Neurotransmitters in the Central Nervous System. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 87-96., Funded by: N.I.M.H.
1988, Maher and Kiritsy, Aspartame Administration Decreases the Entry of Alpha-Methyldopa into the Brain of Rats. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 122-126., Funded by: Massachusetts College of Pharmacy
1988, Elsas, Aspartame and Migraine. N Engl J Med 1988;318(18):1201., Funded by: Emory University
1988, Kim, et al., The Effect of Aspartame on 50% Convulsion Doses of Lidocaine. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 127-130., Funded by: Indiana University and Ball State University
1988, Blundell, Effects of Aspartame on Appetite and Food Intake. In Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function, Wurtman and Ritter-Walker, Editors, 1988;Birkhauser, Boston, 275-295., Funded by: University of Leeds
1988, Lipton RB, Newman LC, Cohen JS, Solomon S, Aspartame and Headache. The New England Journal of Medicine 1988 May 5;1200., Funded by: Albert Einstein College of Medicine
1988, Lipton, et al., Aspartame as a Dietary Factor in Headache. Neurology 1988;38:356., Funded by: National Headache Foundation
1988, Lipton, et al., Aspartame as a Dietary Trigger of Headache. Headache 1989;29(2):90-2., Funded by: National Headache Foundation
1988, Koehler SM, Glaros A, The Effect of Aspartame on Migraine Headache. Headache 1988;28:10-13., Funded by: Center for Brain Sciences and Metabolism Charitable Trust & The University of Florida
1989, Potenza DD and el-Mallakh RS, Aspartame: Clinical Update. Conn Med 1989;53(7):395-400., Funded by: None
1989, Holder MD and Yirmiya R, Behavioral Assessment of the Toxicity of Aspartame. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 1989;32:17-26., Funded by: N.I.H.
1989, Yost DA, Clinical Safety of Aspartame [Review].* AFP 1989 Feb;39(2):201-206., Funded by: University of Arizona
1989, Dow-Edwards DL, Scribani LA, Riley EP, et. al., Impaired Performance on Odor-Aversion Testing Following Prenatal Aspartame Exposure in the Guinea Pig. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 1989 Jul-Aug;11(4):413-416., Funded by: Laboratory of Cerebral Metabolism, State University of New York.
1989, Dow-Edwards DL, Scribani LA, Riley EP, Impaired Performance on Odor-Aversion Testing Following Prenatal Aspartame Exposure in the Guinea Pig. Neurotoxicol Teratol 1989;11(4):413-6., Funded by: State University of N.Y.
1989, Bresnick, Excitotoxins: A Possible New Mechanism for the Pathogenesis of Ischemic Retinal Damage. Arch Opmalmol 1989 Mar;107(3):339-41., Funded by: N.I.H.
1990, Turdoff MG, and Alleva AM, Oral Stimulation with Aspartame Increases Hunger. Physiology Behavior 1990;47(3):555-9., Funded by: None Specified
1990, Pan-Hou H, et. al., Effect of Aspartame on N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Sensitive L-[3H] Glutamate Binding Sites in Rat Brain Synaptic Membranes. Brain Res 1990;520(1-2):351-353., Funded by: Setsunan University
1991, Strathman, Recurrent Vulvovaginitis Resulting From the Heavy Dietary Use of Aspartame. J Reprod Med 1991 Aug;36(8):572., Funded by: No Funding
1991, Roberts, Does Aspartame Cause Human Brain Cancer. Journal of Advancement in Medicine 4(4):231-241., Funded by: None
1991, Watts RS, Aspartame, Headaches and Beta Blockers. Headache 1991;31(3):181-2., Funded by: None
1991, Tilson HA, Hong JS, Sobotka TS, et. al., High Doses of Aspartame have no Effect on Sensorimotor Function or Learning and Memory in Rats. Neurotoxicology & Teratology 1991;13(1):27-35., Funded by: FDA
1991, McCauliffe DP, Poitras K, et. al., Aspartame-Induced Lobular Panniculitis. J Am Acad Dermatol 1991;24(2 Pt 1):298-300., Funded by: U.S. Air Force
1991, Moller SE, Effect of Aspartame and Protein, Administered in Phenylalanine-Equivalent Doses on Plasma Neutral Amino Acids, Aspartate, Insulin and Glucose in Man. Pharmacol Toxicol 1991;68(5):408-12., Funded by: St. Hans Hospital, Denmark
1991, Diomed L, Romano M, Guiso G, et. al., Interspecies and Interstrain Studies on the Increased Susceptibility to Metrazol-Induced Convulsions in Animals given Aspartame. Food & Chem Toxicol 1991;29(2):101-106., Funded by: Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy
1991, Guiso, et. al., Effect of Tyrosine on the Potentiation by Aspartame and Phenylalanine of Metrazol-Induced Convulsions in Rats. Food Chem Toxicol 1991 Dec;29(12):855-7., Funded by: Instituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Italy, Via Eritrea
1992, Tollefson L and Barnard RJ, An Analysis of FDA Passive Surveillance Reports of Seizures Associated with Consumption of Aspartame. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1992;92(5):598-601., Funded by: FDA
1992, Camfield PR, Camfield CS, Dooley JM, et. al., Aspartame Exacerbates EEG Spike Wave Discharge in Children With Generalized Absence Epilepsy: A Double-Blind Controlled Study. Neurology 1992;42:1000-1003., Funded by: Ontario Ministry of Health
1992, Gulya AJ, Sessions RB, Troost TR, et. al., Aspartame and Dizziness: Preliminary Results of a Prospective, Nonblinded, Prevalence and Attempted Cross-over Study. American J of Otology 1992 Sept;13(5):438-42., Funded by: Georgetown University
1993, Shephard SE, Wakabayashi K, Nagao M, et. al., Mutagenic Activity of Peptides and the Artificial Sweetener Aspartame After Nitrosation. Food & Chemical Toxicol 1993;31(5):323-9., Funded by: National Cancer Center Research Institute ­ Japan
1993, Walton RG, Hudak R, Greenwaite RJ, Adverse Reaction to Aspartame: Double-Blind Challenge in Patients from a Vulnerable Population. Biological Psychiatry 1993;34(1-2):13-17., Funded by: Western Reserve Care System
1993, Tollefson L, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: Controlled Scientific Studies as Proof of Causation. * Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 1993;18:32-43., Funded by: FDA
1993, Eshel Y and Sarova-Pincus I, Aspartame and Seizures. Neurology 1993;43(10):2154-2155., Funded by: None Specified
1993, Kasamaki A, Uresawa S, et. al., The Effect of Food Chemicals on Cell Aging of Human Diploid Cells in Vitro Culture. J Toxicol Sci 1993;18(3):143-53., Funded by: Sapparo Medical College Japan
1993, Meldrum, Amino Acids as Dietary Excitotoxins: A Contribution to Understanding Neurodegenerative Disorders. Brain Res Rev 1993 Sept-Dec;18(3):293-314., Funded by: Institute of Psychiatry ­ London
1994, Van Den Eeden SK, Koepsell TD, Langstreth WT Jr, et a., Aspartame Ingestion and Headaches: A randomized Crossover Trial. Neurology 1994;44(10):1787-93., Funded by: University of Washington
1994, Stokes AF, Belger A, Banich MT, Bernadine E, et. al., Effects of Alcohol and Chronic Aspartame Ingestion Upon Performance in Aviation Relevant Cognitive Tasks. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 1994;65:7-15., Funded by: FDA
1994, Olney, Excitotoxins in Foods. Neurotoxicology 1996;15(3):535-544., Funded by: Washington University
1994, Gerrard JW, Richardson JS, Donat J, et. al., Neuropharmacological Evaluation of Movement Disorders that are Adverse Reactions to Specific Foods. Int J Neurosci 1994 May;76(1-2):61-9., Funded by: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
1994, Barua J, Bal A, A Health Alert: Emerging Facts about Aspartame. Jour Diab Assoc India 1995;35(4):92-107., Funded by: S. L. Raheja Hospital Bombay
1995, Sonnewald U, Muller T, Unsgaro G, Peterson SB, et. al., Effect of Aspartame on 45 CA Influx and LDH Leakage from Nerve Cells in Culture. Neuroreport 1995 45 CA;6(2);318-320., Funded by: Research Council of Norway
1995, Kulczychi A Jr., Aspartame Induced Hives. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 1995;95(2):639-40., Funded by: Washington University
1996, Roberts HJ, Aspartame as a Cause of Allergic Reactions, Including Anaphylaxis. Arch Intern Med 1996;156(9);1027-8., Funded by: Palm Beach Institute for Medical Research
1996, Olney JW, Farber NB, Spitznagel E, Robins L, Increasing Brain Tumor Rates: Is There a Link to Aspartame? Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 1996;55(11);1115-1123., Funded by: N.I.M.H.
1998, Trocho C, Pardo R, Rafecas I, Virgili J, Remesar X, Fernandez-Lopez JA, Alemany M, Formaldehyde Derived From Dietary Aspartame Binds to Tissue Components In Vivo. Life Sciences 1998;63(5);337-349., Funded by: Universitat de Barcelona

Industry-funded research on Aspartame safety

Data based on the now defunct http://www.dorway.com/industry.html

Research Adverse Reactions Identified
1976, Koch R, Schaeffler G, Shaw NF. Results of Loading Doses of Aspartame by two Phenylketonuric (PKU) Children Compared with two Normal Children. J Toxicol Environ Health 1976;2(2):459-469., Funded by: Searle
1976, Stern SB, Bleicher SJ, Flores A, et al. Administration of Aspartame in Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetics, J Toxicol Environ Health 1976;2:429-439., Funded by: Searle
1976, Knopp RH, Brandt K, Arky RA. Effects of Aspartame in Young Persons During Weight Reduction. J Toxicol Environ Health 1976;2:417-428., Funded by: Searle
1976, Frey GH. Use of Aspartame By Apparently Healthy Children and Adolescents. J Toxicol Environ Health 1976;2:401-415., Funded by: Searle
1976, Koch R, Shaw KN, Williamson M, Haber M. Use of Aspartame in Phenylketonuric Heterozygous Adults. J Toxicol Environ Health 1976;2(2):453-7., Funded by: Searle
1977, Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Baker GL. Effect of Aspartame and Aspartate Loading Upon Plasma and Erythrocyte Free Amino Acid Levels in Normal Adult Volunteers. J Nutr 1977;107:1837-1845., Funded by: Searle
1979, Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Baker GL. Plasma, Erythrocyte and Human Milk Levels of Free Amino Acids in Lactating Women Administered Aspartame or Lactose. J Nutr 1979;109:2173-2181., Funded by: Searle
1980, Potts WJ, Bloss JL, Nutting EF. Biological Properties of Aspartame-Evaluation of Central Nervous System Effects. J Environ Pathol Toxicol 1980;3(5-6):341-353., Funded by: Searle
1980, Saunders FJ, Pautsch WF, Nutting EF. The Biological Properties of Aspartame. IV. Examination for Endocrine Like Activities. J Exper Pathol Toxicol 1980;3:363-373., Funded by: Searle
1980, Lennon HD, Metcalf LE, Mares SE. The Biological Properties of Aspartame. IV. Effects on Reproduction and Lactation. J Environ Pathol Toxicol 1980;3:375-386., Funded by: Searle
1980, Bianchi RG, Muir ET, Cook DL, Nutting EF et al. The Biological Properties of Aspartame. III. Actions Involving the Gastrointestinal System, J. Environ Pathol Toxicol 1980;3:355-362., Funded by: Searle
1980, Aspinall RL, Saunders RN, Pautsch WF, Nutting SF. The Biological Properties of Aspartame: Effects on a Variety of Physiological Parameters Related to Inflammation and Metabolism. J Environ Pathol Toxicol 1980 Jun-Jul;3(5-6):387-95., Funded by: Searle
1981, Stegink LD, Brummel MC, McMartin K, et al. Blood Methanol Concentrations in Normal Adult Subjects Administered Abuse Doses of Aspartame. J Toxicol Environ Health 1981;7:281-290., Funded by: Searle
1981, Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Baker GL. Plasma and Erythrocyte Concentrations of Free Amino Acids in Adult Humans Administered Abuse Doses of Aspartame. J Toxicol Environ Health 1981;7:291-305, Funded by: Searle
1981, Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Baker GL. Effect of Aspartame and Sucrose Loading in Glutamate-Susceptible Subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1981;34(9):1899-1905., Funded by: Searle
1981, Ishii H. Incidence of Brain Tumors in Rats Fed Aspartame. Toxicology Letters 1981;7:433-437., Funded by: Ajinomoto & Searle
1981, Ishii H, Koshimizu T, Usami S, Fujimoto T. Toxicity of Aspartame and its Diketopiperazine for Wistar Rats by Dietary Administration for 104 weeks. Toxicology 1981;21:91-94., Funded by: Ajinomoto & Searle
1982, Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Baker GL. Effect of Aspartame Plus Monosodium L-Glutamate Ingestion on Plasma and Erythrocyte Amino Acid Levels in Normal Adult Subjects Fed a High Protein Meal. Am J Clin Nutr 1982;36:1145-1152., Funded by: Searle
1983, Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Baker GL. Plasma Amino Acid Concentrations in Normal Adults Fed Meals with Added Monosodium L-Glutamate and Aspartame. J Nutr 1983;113:1851-1860., Funded by: Searle
1983, Filer LJ Jr, Baker GL, Stegink LD. Effect of Aspartame Loading on Plasma and Erythrocyte Free Amino Acid Concentrations in One Year Old Infants. J Nutr 1983;113:1591-1599., Funded by: General Foods Corp.
1983, Stegink LD, Brummel MC, Filer LJ Jr, Baker GL. Blood Methanol Concentrations in One-Year Old Infants Administered Graded Doses of Aspartame. J Nutr 1983;113:1600-1606., Funded by: General Foods Corp.
1984, Roak-Foltz and Leveille. Projected Aspartame Intake: Daily Ingestion of Aspartic Acid, Phenylalanine, and Methanol. In: Stegink L, Filer L (eds). Aspartame: Physiology and Biochemistry, New York: Marcel Dekker Inc., 1984., Funded by: Searle
1985, Sturtevant F. Does Aspartame Cause Methanol Toxicity. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 163-168., Funded by: Searle
1985, Nehrling JK, Kobe P, McLane MP, et al. Aspartame Use by Persons with Diabetes. Diabetes Care 1985;8:415-17., Funded by: Searle
1985, Gaull GE. Aspartame and Seizures. Lancet 1985;2(8469-70):1431, Funded by: Nutra sweet
1986, Torii K, Mimura T, Takasaki Y, Ichimura M. Dietary Aspartame with Protein on Plasma and Brain Amino Acids, Brain Monoamines and Behavior in Rats. Physiol Behav 1986;36(4):765-72., Funded by: Ajinomoto
1986, Torii K, Mimura T, Takasaki Y, Ichimura M. Effect of Mealing on Plasma and Brain Amino Acid, and Brain Monoamine in Rats after Oral Aspartame. Physiol Behav 1986;36(4):759-64., Funded by: Ajinomoto
1986, Szucs EF, Barrett KE, Metcalfe DD. The Effect of Aspartame on Mast Cells and Basophils. Food Chem Toxic 1986;24(2):171-174, Funded by: Intl. Life Sciences
1987, Schiffman SS, Buckley CE 3rd Sampson HA. Aspartame and Susceptibility to Headache. N Engl J Med 1987;317(19):1181-1185., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1987, Ryan-Harshman M, Leiter LA, Anderson GH. Phenylalanine and Aspartame Fail to Alter Feeding Behavior, Mood and Arousal in Men. Physiology and Behavior 1987;39:247-253., Funded by: Intl. Life Sciences
1987, Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Baker GL. Plasma Amino Acid Concentrations in Normal Adults Ingesting Aspartame and Monosodium L-Glutamate as Part of a Soup/Beverage Meal. Metabolism 1987;36(11):1073-1079., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1987, Cho ES, Coon JD, Stegink LD. Plasma and Urine Diketopiperazine Concentrations in Normal Adults Ingesting Large Quantities of Aspartame. Food Chem Toxicol 1987;25(7):499-504., Funded by: Searle
1988, Kanders BS, Lavin PT, Kowalchuck M, et al. An Evaluation of the Effect of Aspartame on Weight Loss. Appetite 1988;Volume II(Suppl 1):73-84., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1988, Shaywitz, et. al. Effects of Aspartame on Seizures in Children. In: Wurtman, Ritter-Walker (eds.) Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston:Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 163-168., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1988, Leiter, et. al., Effects of Phenylalanine and Aspartame on Mealtime Food Intake and Behavior in Adult Males. In: Wurtman, Ritter-Walker (eds.) Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston:Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 296-299., Funded by: Intl. Life Sciences
1988, Keybach and Allen, Resources for Inferential Estimates of Aspartame Intake in the United States. In: Wurtman, Ritter-Walker (eds.) Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston:Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 365-372., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1988, Jobe and Dailey. Role of Monoamines in Seizure Predisposition in the Genetically Epilepsy-Prone Rat. In: Wurtmann and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston:Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 127-130., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1988, Horwitz DL, McLane M, Cobe P. Response to Single Dose of Aspartame or Saccharin by NIDDM Patients. Diabetes Care 1988;2:230-34., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1989, McAnulty PA, Collier MJ, Enticott J, et al. Absence of Development Effects in CFI Mice Exposed to Aspartame in Utero. Fundam Appl Toxicol 1989 Aug;13(2):296-302., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1989, Reilly MA, Debler EA, Fleischer A. Lack of Effect of Chronic Aspartame Ingestion on Aminergic Receptors in Rat Brain. Biochem Pharmacol 1989;38(23):433904361., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1989, Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Bell EF, Ziegler EE, Tephly TR. Effect of Repeated Ingestion of Aspartame-Sweetened Beverage on Plasma Amino Acid, Blood Methanol and Blood Formate Concentration in Normal Adults. Metabolism 1989;38(4):357-363., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1989, Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Bell EF, et al. Repeated Ingestion of Aspartame-Sweetened Beverage: Effect on Plasma Amino Acid Concentrations in Individuals Heterozygous for Phenylketonuria. Metabolism 1989;38(1):78-84., Funded by: Searle
1989, Gupta V, Cochran C, Parker TF, et al. Effect of Aspartame on Plasma Amino Acid Profiles of Diabetic Patients with Chronic Renal Failure. Am J Clin Nutr 1989;49:1302-6., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1989, Leon AS, Hunninghake DB, Bell C, et al. Safety of Long-term Large Doses of Aspartame. Arch Intern Med 1989;149(10):2318-24., Funded by: Searle
1989, Dailey JW, Lasley SM, Mishra PK, et al. Aspartame Fails to Facilitate Pentylenetetrazol-Induced Convulsions in CD-1 Mice. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 1989;98:475-486., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1989, Anderson GH, Saravis S, Schacher R. Zlotein S, Leiter LA et al. Aspartame: Effect on Lunch Time Food Intake Appetite and Hedonic Response in Children. Appetite 1989;13:93-103., Funded by: Intl. Life Sciences
1989, Holder MD. Effects of Perinatal Exposure to Aspartame on Rat Pups. Neurotoxicology and Teratology 1989;11(1):1-6., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1989, Cain DP, Boon F, Bevan M. Failure of Aspartame to Affect Seizure Susceptibility in Kindled Rats. Neuropharmacology 1989;28(4):433-435., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1989, Carlson HE, Shaw JH. Aspartame and its Constituent Amino Acids: Effect on Prolactin, Cortisol, Growth Hormone, Insulin and Glucose in Normal Humans. Am J Clin Nutr 1989;49(3):427-432, Funded by: Nutra sweet
1990, Saravis S, Schachar R, Zlotkin S, Leiter LA, Anderson GH. Aspartame: Effects on Learning Behavior and Mood. Pediatrics 1990;86(1):75-83., Funded by: Intl. Life Sciences
1990, Stegink LD, Filer LJ Jr, Bell EF, et al. Repeated Ingestion of Aspartame-Sweetened Beverages: Further Observations in Individuals Heterozygous for Phenylketonuria. Metabolism 1990;39(10):1076-1081., Funded by: Searle
1990, Lapierre KA, Greenblatt DJ, Goddard JE, Harmatz JS, Shader RI. The Neuropsychiatric Effects of Aspartame in Normal Volunteers. J Clin Pharmacol 1990:30(5):454-460., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1990, Burns TS, Starget WW, Hurwitz A. Bioavailability of Phenylalanine and Aspartame from Aspartame (20 mg/kg) in Capsules and Solution. Metabolism 1990;39(11):1200-3, Funded by: Nutra sweet
1991, Koeppe RA, Shulkion BL, Rosenspire KC. Effect of Aspartame-Derived Phenylalanine on Neutral Amino Acid Uptake in Human Brain: A Positron Emission Tomography Study. J Neurochem 1991;1526-1535., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1991, Garriga MM, Berkebile C, Metcalfe DD. A Combined Single - Blind, Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study to Determine the Reproducibility of Hypersensitivity Reactions to Aspartame. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1991 April;87(4):821-7., Funded by: Intl. Life Sciences
1991, Mullenix PJ, Tassinari MS, Schunior A, Kernan WJ. No Change in Spontaneous Behavior of Rats After Oral Doses of Aspartame, Phenylalanine and Tyrosine. Fundam Appl Toxicol 1991; 16(3):495-505., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1991, Moser RH. Aspartame. South Med J 1991;84(12):1509-10., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1991, Daily JW, Lasley SM, Burger RL, et al. Amino Acids, Monoamines and Audiogenic Seizures in Genetically Epilepsy-Prone Rats: Effects of Aspartame. Epilepsy Res 1991;8:122-133., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1991, Fernstrom JD, Fernstrom MH, Massoudi MS. In Vivo Tyrosine Hydroxylation in Rat Retina: Effect of Aspartame Ingestion in Rats Pretreated with P-Chlorophenylalanine. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53(4):923-9., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1991, Burns TS, Stargel WW, Tschanz C, Kotsonis PN, Hurwitz A, et al. Aspartame and Sucrose Produce a Similar Increase in the Plasma Phenylalanine to Large Neutral Amino Acid Ratio in Healthy Subjects. Pharmacology 1991;43:210-219., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1991, Butchko HH, Kotsonis FN. Acceptable Daily Intake vs. Actual Intake: The Aspartame Example. J Am Coll Nutr 1991;10(3):258-266., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1992, Hjelle JJ, Dudley RE, Marietta MP, et al. Plasma Concentrations and Pharmacokinetics of Phenylalanine in Rats and Mice Administered Aspartame. Pharmacology 1992;44(1):48-60., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1993, Karstaedt PJ, Pincus JH. Aspartame Use in Parkinson's Disease. Neurology 1993;43(3 pt 1):611-613., Funded by: Intl. Life Sciences
1993, Geha R, Buckley CE, Greenberger P, et al. Aspartame is no More Likely than Placebo to Cause Urticaria/Angioedema: Results of a Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1993;92:513-20., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1993, Hertelendy ZI, Mendenhall CL, Rouster SD, Marshall L, Weesner R. Biochemical and Clinical Effects of Aspartame in Patients with Chronic, Stable Alcoholic and Liver Disease. Am J Gastroenterol 1993;88(5):737-743., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1994, Trefz F, deSonneville L, Matthis P, et al. Neuropsychological and Biochemical Investigations in Heterozygotes for Phenylketonuria During Ingestion of High Dose Aspartame. Human Genetics 1994;93:369-374., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1994, Shaywitz BA., Anderson GM, Novotny EJ, et al. Aspartame has no Effect on Seizures or Epileptiform Discharges in E pileptic Children. Ann Neurol 1994;35:98-103., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1994, Shaywitz BA, Sullivan CM, Anderson GM, et al. Aspartame, Behavior, and Cognitive Function in Children With Attention Deficit Disorder. Pediatrics 1994;93:70-75., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1994, Wolraich Ml, Lindgren SD, Stumbo PJ, et al. Effects of Diets High in Sucrose or Aspartame on the Behavior and Cognitive Performance of Children. N Engl J Med 1994;330(5):301-307., Funded by: Intl. Life Sciences
1994, Drewnowski A, Massein C, Louis-Syulvestre J, et al. Comparing the Effects of Aspartame and Sucrose on Motivational Ratings, Taste Preferences, and Energy Intakes in Humans. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:338-65., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1994, Moser RH. Aspartame and Memory Loss. JAMA 1994;272(19):1543., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1994, Butchko HH, et al. Postmarketing Surveillance of Food Additives. In: Nutritional Toxicology. Kotsonig, Machky and Jhelle, (eds.) New York: Raven Press Ltd. 1994., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1994, Drewnowski A, Massier C, Louis-Sylvestre J, et al. The Effects of Aspartame Versus Sucrose on Motivational Ratings, Taste Preferences, and Energy Intakes in Obese and Lean Women. International Journal of Obesity 1994;18:570-578., Funded by: Nutra sweet
1995, Rowan AJ, Shaywitz BA, Tuchman L, et al. Aspartame and Seizure Susceptibility: Results of a Clinical Study in Reportedly Sensitive Individuals. Epilepsia 1995:36(3):270-5., Funded by: Nutra sweet
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Martina Slajerova
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Martina Slajerova

I changed the way I ate in 2011, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. I had no energy, and I found it more and more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

That’s when I decided to quit sugar, grains, and processed foods, and to start following a whole-foods-based ketogenic approach to food.

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Comments (15)

It is your personal conviction that artificial anything is of no use to humans. It's also the personal conviction of the people doing the research on artificial sweeteners. Saccharin especially, has been around since the 1870's and there have been incalculable tests done by the sugar industry since then to discredit it's use like they did with cyclamates. Gary Taubes has found no scientific research that points to anything like these researchers "want to be true." I'll take his word for it. "The Case Against Sugar"

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You say that "It is your personal conviction that artificial anything is of no use to humans." I made no such assertion. Not all artificial sweeteners are equal but all have shown to have side effects. Some artificial sweeteners may have been around for decades but they have never been used in such large quantities like they are these days.
I used to have headaches every time I had diet soda. Since there are tens of healthy low-carb options with no side effects or potential long-term issues, I choose to avoid artificial sweeteners.  

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Aspartame is not harmless. I know that from personal experience. I never drink fizzy sodas but was given one to drink. Had no choice but to accept. A famous brand name in South Africa.
After drinking it I went into shakes and felt dizzy. It had the same reaction as the diet pills that were on the market a long time ago. In fact last century. 😉

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Nope.   Snake venom is made from amino acids (proteins).  Doesn't mean they are good!

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Aspartame is harmless. Aspartame is composed of two amino acids, two of the twenty basic amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, which are programmed by DNA. Amino acids compose all proteins. We are basically composed of proteins. If you haven't eaten or drank for a while and you taste something sweet in your mouth you are tasting your own aspartame that happened to form from loose amino acids from your proteins in your mouth. It is obvious that aspartame is absolutely harmless.

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Having seen the available research, I agree to disagree.

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Why is ketocal enteral formula full of aspertame?

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Not only that - I checked the ingredients are there are more to be avoided (vegetable oils, corn syrup solids, soy, etc.)

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So, you put the example of Aspartame and throw the same statements to all the other sweeteners: Saccharin, Acesulfame K, Sucralose...
Just remind that Aspartame is allowed in many countries, even the EU which has a quite restrictive equivalent to FDA.
So, I can only consider this article as an opinion and FUD on artificial sweeteners.

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Yes, I mentioned other artificial sweeteners too (in the intro) but only analysed the effects of Aspartame. Yes, it is allowed (see the comparison of study fundings). Being allowed doesn't imply safe in the long term.

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"Some studies suggest that Aspartame may increase hunger, resulting in greater caloric intake and increased risk of obesity"
Increased hunger doesn't result in greater caloric intake and risk of obesity if you don't give into it, it's something called selfdiscipline
why do blogs and online posts never put the responsibility at the person who is trying to lose weight
Aspartame is fine on Keto, it won't knock you out. If it causes you to crave more sugars then it's up to you wether or not you give into those cravings
It's as simple as that.

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It **may** result in greater caloric intake and increased risk of obesity. It's not about self-discipline at all, it's about controlling hunger / cravings by reducing carbs (more about this is in books by Dr Volek & Dr Phinney). You can use aspartame keto (it doesn't kick you out of ketosis) but it won't be the healthiest option.

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So right, artificial sweeteners only made my body sick and crave carbs. I used to drink diet soda and use splenda for my low-carb treats. Both aspartame and sucralose are poison!

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I gave up diet soda years ago... I sleep so much better and have no sugar cravings since then!

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This article is great - perfect explanation for those that hesitate whether aspartame is good or bad for them. When I saw the link to funding and results of research, it's so clear! Nobody knows what's behind that and we shouldn't trust anybody. Aspartame has been used for a relatively short time - who knows what it does to our bodies (maybe it does, maybe it doesn't) but why risk it when there are natural sugar-free alternatives... I just have to give up my favorite Diet Cherry Coke 😞

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