Saturday, November 19, 2005

I'll bet you'd never have guessed my next post would be about artificial sweeteners.

Not long ago, my Mom and I attended a nutrition class at our church. The instructor loaned Mom a video entitled Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World. Mom was so impressed with the movie that she had me watch it.

As it turned out, is was a documentary on the harmful effects of aspartame, commonly markeded at Nutrasweet. I took the information to heart and have since been telling people, offhand, that aspartame is dangerous. I didn't really questioned the documentary until last night, when Liam raised some objections to the chemistry behind Sweet Misery.

So, I leapt this morning into Wikipedia, and found their article about aspartame, which, incidentally, confirms the content of Sweet Misery.

I encourage you all to at least take a brief look at the findings before having another diet soda. A quick summary: when digested, aspartame breaks down into methanol, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine. All of these substances are potentially harmful to the human body, though to what degree remains controversial. That said, please note the heading "Recently published research" near the bottom of the article.

Heh. Also note that from here on out, you will be seeing a lot of Wikipedia citations in my posts. It's an amazing site, and I encourage you all to visit it frequently. Poke around, and see what you can find.

3 comments:

Third said...

i'd like to extend a formal apology on the subject of Aspartame. i was operating under mistaken understanding regarding its chemical composition, i'm quite aware, actually, of the dangers of phenylalanine: Sierra is a phenylketonuric.
The similarity in names had led me to the false assumption that the name Aspartame referred as a brand name to the chemical compound Acesulfame potassium (Acesulfame-K), which is also a methyl esther, but one stable under great heat, and more importantly, in the presence of strong acidic catalysts.
i looked up Acesulfame-K on wikipedia and set myself straight.
i was surprised to find there, in fact, information suggesting that the stability of Acesulfame-K was actually itself in question; since it was previously believed that it was not metabolized at all, and thus non-carcinogenic unlike most no-calorie sweeteners.
Looks like no-calorie might be too good to be true after all, hmm?

the Razorclown said...

An easy mistake, confusing two methyl esthers... wow, I sounded like quite the chemist for a second there. In any case, I'm just glad the subject is cleared up.

All this makes me curious how Splenda works. There shall be further forays into the Wikiverse to find out. Mwahaha.

Third said...

Splenda is, to my understanding, a chlorination of sugar (Sucrose, to be specific) that results in an upward-bound molecule that's more stable, like Acesulfame-K, which is to say that it's stable enough to resist metabolism. i don't think it's entirely insoluble though, i seem to recall Sucralose manufacturers or the FDA or someone suggesting a maximum intake per day of sucralose, because the small amounts that ARE absorbed decrease Thymic production in mice.
i wouldn't be surprised to find that sucralose is not as safe as it's made out to be; that certainly seems to be the trend for no-calorie sweeteners, and what the FDA calls a long term study is often a year or less on humans.