Lately, it’s been hard to keep up with all the new research around artificial sweeteners and their potentially harmful effects. From erythritol’s links to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, to new research around sucralose and cancer - are there really any safe sweeteners?
The most recent study, and one of the most alarming, explores the effects of aspartame on the brain. So, what are the negative effects of aspartame on the brain, and what can this new research tell us about the safety of this popular artificial sweetener?
In this article, we’ll break down aspartame effects on the brain, highlighting the red flags that have researchers and nutritionists worried about how this sweetener can impact our cognitive health.
What are the Negative Effects of Aspartame on the Brain?
So, what are the negative effects of aspartame on the brain? Let’s take a look at what the research tells us so far about aspartame and our brains.
One of the concerning links between aspartame and the brain revolves around its impact on neurotransmitters (such as dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine), the chemical messengers responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells.
Aspartame is composed of phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. Phenylalanine, in particular, is known to be a precursor of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, playing a crucial role in mood regulation and cognitive function.
Aspartame consumption can lead to an imbalance in these neurotransmitters, potentially resulting in altered brain function. Some studies suggest that this may contribute to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and even potentially more severe neuropsychological issues.
Cognitive and Memory Impairments
Cognitive function and memory are among the most critical aspects of brain health, and emerging research indicates that aspartame may have a negative effect on both.
A recent study showed that daily consumption of just two 8oz diet sodas containing aspartame produces significant spatial learning and memory deficits. Alarmingly, this is only around 10-15% of the maximum “safe” dose recommended by the FDA.
Mice that drank water containing aspartame performed significantly poorer at a series of learning and memory tasks (including mazes) compared to mice drinking water alone.
The researchers also found that the offspring of male mice also showed similar deficiencies, suggesting that the negative effects of aspartame on the brain are inherited.
Mood Disorders and Mental Health
Aspartame's influence on neurotransmitters also extends to its potential to trigger mood disorders and impact overall mental health. Phenylalanine, aspartame's amino acid component, is known to play a role in mood regulation.
Excessive consumption of aspartame may disrupt the balance of mood-related neurotransmitters, leading to increased susceptibility to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Aspartame and Migraines
Migraine sufferers have long suspected a connection between aspartame consumption and the onset or exacerbation of migraine headaches. Now, there are studies suggesting that aspartame can cause more frequent and severe headaches in migraine sufferers.
Other Concerning Side Effects of Aspartame
While the negative effects of aspartame on the brain are significant, they aren’t the only thing to be concerned about. Let’s take a look at some of the other areas of our health that aspartame can affect.
Aspartame and Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It typically includes elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Aspartame consumption has been linked to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Some studies have found that regular consumption of aspartame-containing products may contribute to insulin resistance and disruption of glucose metabolism.
There are also links between aspartame and inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders like arthritis. This is a big reason why many people learn how long it takes for aspartame to get out of your system or try to avoid this sweetener altogether.
Aspartame's Link to Weight Gain
It’s strange to think that an artificial sweetener could cause weight gain, as many people use sweeteners in an effort to lose weight! But, some studies have suggested that aspartame consumption can lead to weight gain rather than weight loss.
The mechanisms behind this are not fully understood, but theories include the possibility that artificial sweeteners like aspartame may disrupt the body's natural ability to regulate calorie consumption, leading to increased appetite and a preference for sweeter, high-calorie foods.
This, in turn, could potentially contribute to weight gain. Aspartame isn’t the only sweetener with this issue - stevia weight gain is a known issue, and sucralose on keto diets can also lead to weight gain.
Potential Carcinogenic Effects
The potential carcinogenic effects of aspartame have been a subject of debate for years. While the FDA has deemed aspartame generally safe for consumption, some studies have raised concerns about its possible link to cancer, particularly when used in large quantities.
These concerns are mainly centered around methanol, a component of aspartame, which is metabolized in the body into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Some animal studies have shown an increased risk of certain cancers with high aspartame intake.
Enjoy Peace of Mind With a Safer, Healthier Alternative!
If you’re worried about the concerning aspartame effects on the brain and other areas of your health, it might be time to look for an alternative sweetener. Unfortunately, many other sweeteners bring the same issues.
What about other sweeteners? The links between sucralose and migraines rule out this option for many, and you may find you have a sucralose intolerance which causes painful symptoms like stomach cramps, gas, and bloating.
Erythritol is another option, but common erythritol side effects include gastrointestinal issues, weight gain, and a much higher risk of a serious cardiovascular event like heart attack or stroke.
So, if none of these sweeteners are safe, healthy alternatives, what are the other options? Luckily, there’s a natural way to give your favorite treats a sweet kick without the harmful side effects of artificial sweeteners: sweet proteins!
The Benefits of Sweet Proteins
Sweet proteins are natural, powerfully sweet compounds found in certain tropical fruits. They can be up to 5,000 times sweeter than regular table sugar, meaning that only a tiny amount is needed to sweeten your favorite foods and beverages.
So, what are the benefits of sweet proteins? Because they’re used in such small quantities, sweet proteins are virtually calorie-free. And, because they’re naturally occurring, they don’t cause the painful sensitivies or allergic reactions that many artificial sweeteners bring.
Can sweet proteins be used as a sugar substitute? Yes! That’s exactly what we do at Oobli. How are sweet proteins made as sugar substitutes? We use a precision fermentation protein process that gives us natural sweet proteins in much the same way that beer, wine, and cheese are produced.
Taste the Difference at Oobli!
Ready to try the guilt-free deliciousness of sweet proteins for yourself? Our sweet, fruity, low sugar tea is the perfectly refreshing aspartame free drink you’ve been waiting for, with only 7g of sugar in each 16oz can!
Available in several delicious flavors, our sugar free drinks are keto-friendly, rich in antioxidants, and free from any artificial ingredients. Each can contains just a handful of normal, natural, healthy ingredients - no nasty hidden stuff.
Looking for something richer? Our low-sugar dark chocolate bars are the decadent treat of your dreams. Smooth, creamy, and keto-friendly, we have a selection of flavors (all vegan!) produced using sweet proteins and 100% natural ingredients. Try them today!
Closing Thoughts on the Effects of Aspartame on the Brain
As you can see, the dangerous aspartame effects on the brain are serious. Even small amounts of aspartame can affect our memory and ability to learn, and it appears that these effects can even be passed down to future generations.
Given that almost any amount of aspartame can cause long-term cognitive issues, the only safe option is to avoid this artificial sweetener altogether. Luckily, Oobli has a smarter, safer alternative - delicious treats naturally sweetened with proteins!
Don’t risk your brain’s health - say no to harmful artificial sweeteners and switch to Oobli for natural, safely sweetened treats.