• cressida fitzsimons

Science, Sweeteners & Sensationalism


Let’s talk Aspartame...

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener you’ll often see in products such as diet drinks, chewing gums, yoghurts, jellies, hot chocolate and even some medicines such as Gaviscon. It is regularly used as a diet alternative to sugar as it doesn’t have the same calorific value.

It’s had a lot of bad press, the most recent of which came in the form of a Daily Mail article. You can read it here.

But, does this study really prove what it says?? 🤔

Take a look at the study itself, here.

There are a few things to consider when reflecting on the validity of the conclusions made (& those quickly claimed and published to the wider public by the Daily Mail....🙈)

1️⃣ The study was performed in vitro (in cells outside the body) so isn’t going to be representative of the effects inside a real human body, actual gut bacteria and the digestive environment.

2️⃣ It would be interesting to note any human variance in toxicity, but this study can’t address that as it’s not produced in humans.

3️⃣ The study doesn’t have a control group to compare, for example, how these results differ from natural sugar intake on gut bacteria and if they are actually greater.

4️⃣ The study uses the acceptable daily dose of Aspartame (& other sweeteners) in one dose at the same time. (To replicate this in a human body, you would have to drink 18 cans of soda in one sitting, in quick succession!) It’s all about concentration and this isn’t really representative of the effect on gut bacteria after one soda or across a day/ week/ lifetime of soda.

5️⃣ They tested a huge range of concentrations but the variance is really tiny. Meaning, the difference on gut bacteria, between 0.0001 mg/ml - 10 mg/ml, was puny!

To finish...

✅ Read the articles these studies are published in before taking a newspaper or anyone else’s opinion at face value.

✅ If you’re unsure how to absorb this content critically, speak to a professional!

✅ Unless you plan on drinking 18 cans of soda in quick succession today, I think you’ll be fine! If you do? I think the aspartame will be the least of your problem.


EDIT TO RESPOND TO REPLY FROM MEMBER OF PUBLIC

I haven’t named this person because I don’t think that would be fair or necessary.

I think it’s quite likely that there are many people out there that share these opinions - largely helped by a whole lot of scare mongering, misinformation and sensationalism.

It’s for that reason that I think it’s important to share my response to an individual who claimed my post was “complete and utter nonsense.” I’ve taken some of their assertions and explored them in detail.

Should you largely eat whole-foods, colourful foods and foods offering a wide range of macro and micro nutrients?

Of course.

Is a soda or products containing aspartame toxic?

At the moment there is no significant, human based trials that suggest so.

I’m not saying you should live on them alone, but be smart with your assertions and less extreme in your actions...❤️👍🏼


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