Aspartame - sweet poison or harmless sweetener
The issue of health and safety of aspartame is one of the most controversial in the field of human nutrition in the last thirty years. This is mostly a result of the media pursuit of sensationalism, causing many to consider aspartame today, despite numerous studies, one of the largest food poison.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener which is un-nutritious, and is also used as an enhancer, of flavour, usually fruit. Interestingly, it was discovered by chance in 1965 in the laboratory where the chemist James Schlatter, contrary to basic laboratory rules, licked a finger that would pick up the paper from the table. The finger that had previously shed substance that was investigated. He felt the sweet taste and so began the story of aspartame, whose odorless powder has the energy value equal to sucrose, also known as plain sugar (4 kcal / g). However, since it is two hundred times sweeter so the amount of aspartame required to achieve the same level of sweetness of the product is minimal, and negligible in energy value. In composition, aspartame is a dipeptide methyl ester whose alcohol component comprises of methanol, and the peptide amino acids are aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Stable in dry conditions it breaks down during prolonged heat treatment, by which it loses part of its sweetness and is not suitable for preparing meals that are thermally processed for a long time. Given the widespread incidence of aspartame, and found in more than 6000 products, everyone must have consumed it, at least unconsciously. Soft drinks, yogurts, puddings, sweets, pharmacological agents are just some of the products which have added aspartame.
In the digestive system, with the aid of the enzymes esterase and peptidase, aspartame is completely decomposed, specifically hydrolyzed, to the above-mentioned components methanol, phenylalanine and aspartic acid. These compounds we get much larger quantities from a normal diet. For example, one cup of milk contains six times more phenylalanine and thirteen times more aspartic acid, a glass of apple juice contains twice as much methanol than the same amount of aspartame sweetened beverage only. Emphasizing solely because the products are often, particularly in Europe, a combination of flavor with artificial sweeteners.
Acceptable daily intake of aspartame (ADI - acceptable daily intake), is 40 or 50 mg / kg body weight, depending upon which regulatory agency in charge of food safety (EFSA - European Food Safety Authority or the FDA - Food and Drug Administration in the United States) is asked. Average intake in Europe ranges between 3 and 10 mg / kg / day in populations with a high intake, such as diabetics, and in the United States between 5 and 13 mg / kg. For example, for the consumer to still be safe in intake of 50 mg / kg BW, you should drink 6-7 liters of beverage sweetened with aspartame exclusively. Good to know that the ADI is calculated from a NOAEL (no observed adverse effect level - the amount that has been proven not to cause adverse effects in laboratory animals) for his subtracting one hundred times. From this we can conclude that periodic input quantities greater than prescribed are not hazardous to health.
Although tests in more detail than necessary follow the procedure for approval as a food product, the media, especially the internet, are swamped with all sorts of stories and photographs about the exceptional harmfulness of aspartame. Interestingly, one of the main sources of such allegations was a chain e-mail, which is still in circulation, and his reading is the reason why I decided to deeper in this topic. The reason for the popularity of such writings lies in the fact that they contain just enough science to make it credible to the general reader. As a result of the global fascination with his alleged harmfulness, aspartame has become one of the best-studied compounds. Countless scientific research, which again proves its safety for use, and only a few of those that conclude the opposite. The latter are largely carried out on animals, and are used in amounts exceeding the NOAEL. Only a pair of remotely serious research showed aspartame toxicity at rates lower than the ADI, but the same as in scientific circles declared absolutely worthless because of the multitude of methodological flaws.
After more than thirty years of scientific research, we can certainly determine how aspartame is a safe food ingredient and with which diabetics can improve their quality of life by allowing them to enjoy the sweet taste without causing fluctuations in blood glucose levels, and people with increased body mass are allowed the same, without undesirable adding of energy value to the food eaten.
With a presentation on ''Aspartame - sweet poison or harmless sweetener '' I participated in the 3rd International Student Congress ''Nutrition and clinical diet therapy'' (Rijeka, 25th to 27th May 2012), where I won the prize for the best oral presentation.
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