If you check the ingredients list of a “low sugar” or “diet” product in your pantry or refrigerator, there’s a good chance it contains aspartame, a popular artificial sweetener. Sweeteners like aspartame are used in almost every diet product, to try to mimic the sweetness of sugar without the added calories.
However, aspartame has come into the spotlight recently for all the wrong reasons. There are some serious concerns about aspartame’s effects on our health, with the additive even being linked with certain types of cancer. Another major area of concern is aspartame’s effect on inflammation.
So, does aspartame cause inflammation? In this article, we’ll explore the aspartame inflammation link, discuss how aspartame causes inflammation, why this matters, and, most importantly, help you find some healthy, natural alternatives that don’t bring the health risks and dangers of aspartame and inflammation.
Does Aspartame Cause Inflammation?
As the debate surrounding the health effects of aspartame continues, one of the key areas of concern is its potential to induce inflammation within the body. Understanding how aspartame causes inflammation and the long-term consequences of this is important, given how many foods and beverages contain aspartame.
So, does aspartame cause inflammation? In some people, yes. Aspartame is an artificial additive that isn’t normally found in foods we eat. This means our bodies aren’t used to it, and when we digest it, aspartame can cause an inflammatory response.
How Aspartame Causes Inflammation
How does aspartame cause inflammation? When we digest aspartame, the sweetener is metabolized into its basic amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, along with methanol. Researchers believe that aspartame's breakdown products are what triggers an inflammatory response in certain people.
These products appear to trigger the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines - small molecules that regulate immune responses. Some studies suggest that aspartame leads to an increase in cytokine production, contributing to inflammation.
Aspartic acid, one of the components of aspartame, has also been linked to the overstimulation of nerve cells, which could potentially lead to inflammation in the central nervous system, affecting brain health.
The Long-Term Consequences of Chronic Inflammation in the Body
Chronic inflammation is not a good thing. While short-term inflammation can help us heal wounds and recover from infections, long-term inflammation can contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain autoimmune disorders like arthritis.
Chronic inflammation has also been associated with tissue damage and oxidative stress, both of which are involved in the aging process and the development of age-related diseases. Alarmingly, more than 50% of all deaths worldwide involve chronic inflammatory diseases.
Beyond Aspartame and Inflammation, There are Other Concerns With This Artificial Sweetener…
Unfortunately, the aspartame inflammation link isn’t the only concerning thing about this artificial sweetener. Here are some of the other problems and concerns that aspartame brings.
Migraines and Headaches
If you suffer from migraines, you might want to avoid aspartame altogether, as research shows that aspartame consumption leads to more frequent migraines. Even if you don’t usually experience migraines, there’s evidence to suggest that prolonged aspartame can lead to headaches.
Aspartame consumption has also been linked to gastrointestinal disturbances, including bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort. Some people may be more sensitive to the gastrointestinal effects of aspartame due to differences in gut microbiota or genetics.
Impact on Metabolism and Weight Gain
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame are often touted as aids for weight management due to their low-calorie content. However, some studies suggest that regular consumption of aspartame might actually lead to weight gain.
This is likely caused by aspartame disrupting the body’s regular metabolic signaling, which could lower metabolic rate, reduce the number of calories burned, and increase fluid retention, all contributing to weight gain.
Potential Neurological Effects
Beyond headaches, concerns have arisen regarding potential neurological effects associated with aspartame consumption. Reports of cognitive changes, mood disturbances, and even links to neurological disorders have all put the spotlight on this controversial artificial sweetener.
The Taste Leaves Much to Be Desired, Too…
As if the health concerns weren’t enough, there’s another big problem with aspartame: It tastes terrible! Most people find the taste of aspartame-sweetened products to be notably different from those sweetened with natural sugars, often describing an unpleasant aftertaste.
Just like the stevia taste is distinctive, many people describe aspartame as having a bitter aftertaste and can tell when a soda, cake, or other product contains the artificial sweetener. In fact, some companies even add additional artificial flavors to try to mask the taste of aspartame!
How to Avoid Aspartame in Your Diet
Given the link between aspartame and inflammation, as well as the other health concerns associated with this artificial sweetener, it’s a good idea to limit your aspartame intake. So, how can you avoid foods containing aspartame? Let’s take a look.
Common Products Containing Aspartame
Aspartame has wormed its way into a variety of food and beverage products, ranging from diet sodas to sugar-free snacks. Recognizing common sources of aspartame can help you navigate your dietary selections more effectively.
Soft drinks, flavored waters, sugar-free gum, and certain yogurts are frequent culprits that often contain aspartame. Sugar-free desserts, instant drink mixes, and even some over-the-counter medications may also include this artificial sweetener.
Reading Labels: How to Identify Aspartame in Ingredients
Navigating food labels is essential for avoiding aspartame in your diet. To identify aspartame on ingredient lists, keep an eye out for the following terms:
- Aspartame: This is the primary name for the artificial sweetener and is often listed directly on ingredient labels.
- E951: Aspartame is assigned the additive code E951 by the European Union. If you see E951 in the ingredient list, it indicates the presence of aspartame.
- Phenylalanine: Aspartame breaks down into its constituent components, including phenylalanine. Sometimes, products may list phenylalanine in the ingredient list instead of explicitly mentioning aspartame.
When examining labels, remember that aspartame can be found not only in products labeled as "sugar-free" but also in those marketed as "low-calorie" or "diet." Developing the habit of scrutinizing ingredient lists can help you identify and avoid products containing aspartame.
Consider a Safer, Natural, Better Tasting Sweetener in Sweet Proteins!
Avoiding aspartame is even more difficult if you’re trying to stick to low-calorie or diet products. How do you avoid consuming too much sugar without dealing with aspartame and inflammation, plus the other long-term issues this sweetener causes?
What are Sweet Proteins?
Sweet proteins are a group of natural compounds that provide a sweet taste without the caloric content or potential health concerns associated with artificial sweeteners like aspartame. They’re usually found in certain exotic fruits, and are potently sweet.
Sweet proteins interact with taste receptors on the tongue, eliciting a sweet sensation that rivals traditional sugar. In fact, sweet proteins can be up to an incredible 5,000 times sweeter than sugar, all while being low in calories or even calorie-free!
The benefits of sweet protein extend beyond their low-calorie nature. These tiny powerhouses are suitable for those with diabetes, don’t cause digestive issues, and offer antioxidant, anti-allergy, and anti-inflammatory properties. Remember how aspartame causes inflammation? Well, sweet proteins do the opposite!
Using sweet proteins as a sugar substitute also brings some big environmental benefits when compared to the production of sugar. How are sweet proteins made, you ask? Ot Oobli, we’ve perfected a fermentation process that allows us to produce sweet proteins without the massive amounts of land or water used in sugar production.
How Sweet Proteins Compare to Aspartame
Not only does aspartame cause inflammation, but it can contribute to a whole host of health issues as we discussed earlier. Sweet proteins, on the other hand, bring health benefits. With sweet proteins, you don’t have to worry about chronic inflammation or intolerance to artificial sweeteners symptoms like digestive issues.
In terms of your health, sweet proteins are an obvious choice over aspartame. But what about the other sweeteners on the market? When it comes to sucralose vs aspartame, sucralose loses points for killing probiotics and affecting gut health. Sweet proteins are a great way to avoid this, and don’t contribute to IBS or Crohn’s Disease.
What about stevia? Well, this sweetener isn’t without its controversy either. Why was stevia banned by the FDA? Because of serious health concerns, and its use is still restricted in Europe! Does stevia cause weight gain? Yes, it can - yet another reason to switch to sweet proteins.
Try Our Chocolate Bars or Drinks to Taste and Feel the Difference Firsthand!
At Oobli, we’ve harnessed the power of sweet proteins to bring you delicious, healthy, guilt-free treats that will convert you to sweet proteins forever. If you’re looking for low-calorie drinks without aspartame, our low sugar tea is the refreshing, quenching, beverage you need, and it’s available in three incredible flavors!
As well as having the best low-sugar drinks, we’ve also created some irresistible, guilt-free chocolate bars. From the very first bite, you won’t believe these don’t contain sugar! There’s no icky aftertaste, no side effects from sweeteners, and no need to worry about aspartame and inflammation. Bliss!
Our products aren’t just about sweet proteins. We think it’s equally important to talk about the ingredients we don’t use - you won’t find any sweeteners, preservatives, additives, or anything unnatural. Just a handful of regular ingredients that are probably already in your pantry.
Bringing Our Conversation on Aspartame and Inflammation to a Close
So, does aspartame cause inflammation? Yes, unfortunately aspartame and inflammation go hand in hand. While the aspartame inflammation link may be unavoidable, there is light at the end of the tunnel - sweet proteins! These plant-based compounds are 100% natural and offer sweetness without the side effects of aspartame or other artificial sweeteners.
Not only do sweet proteins help you avoid aspartame inflammation issues, but these incredible natural powerhouses actually reduce inflammation. They’re anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, and even provide antioxidants - quite the resume!
Thanks to sweet proteins, our Oobli team has been able to create some tasty, guilt-free treats that help you avoid artificial sweeteners without increasing your sugar intake. Our naturally sweet iced tea and our decadent dark chocolate bars are the sweet treats you crave without side effects or sacrifices.
Finally, a chance to ditch sweeteners like aspartame forever. Shop Oobli today and find your new favorite low-sugar snacks - all flavor, no guilt!