The role of aspartame in food.

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by homemadecook, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. homemadecook

    homemadecook

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    I have heard that the Aspartame is a non caloric sweetener used in some diet soft drinks and food preparations. Many studies have assessed the safety of aspartame, but some allegations of health risks come up to debate. Is artificial sweetener pose health risks? Got doubt about this. Can you give us more idea.
     
  2. siduri

    siduri

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    The fact is that it is not ever possible to prove something safe, we can only say that it has not yet been shown to be dangerous. 

    When I was a kid, all kids' shoe stores had this gadget that you stuck your feet into in your new shoes, and could see the X-ray of your feet.  It was great because the parents and shoe store people could see if the shoes fit well or not, and kids loved it (I certainly did!) to see their own bones wiggling.  Can you imagine?  Pregnant mothers of course, were in the store, brought their kids to the machine, etc.  It was not considered dangerous.  Now, of course, it is, and pregnant women are covered in lead aprons if they have to get x-rays, and people's exposure to x-ray radiation is controlled.  Doctors hide behind lead screens while operating x-ray equipment. 

    And there are thousands of products, drugs and equipment that was not considered at all dangerous in the past but only because they hadn't yet discovered the danger. 

    Keep in mind, also, that sweeteners are a huge business.  There isn't much motivation on the part of the producers of it to do extensive research on their safety.  There's not much money to do it by other private, government or  consumer groups.  So we feed our kids tons of diet coke and other crap, and don't know what damage it might do. And it is insidiously in way too many things. 

    We may not know the dangers (maybe we already do, i don't know).  But for sure we do a couple of damaging things by using it:
    1. we get everyone (and kids most importantly) used to a constant high level of sweetness - it's hard for most kids to think of quenching their thirst if the liquid is not super-sweet. 
    2. we get people used to a very lousy taste of sweetness (aspartame and all the other sweeteners like saccharine, are horrible and leave a disgusting aftertaste) making our taste buds and our own appreciation of food become used to a very bad standard. 

    So why use it?  It's possible to live without it.   (I can understand a diabetic craving sweets and using it - I would - but outside of that extreme case, I'd stick to sugar, or less sweets.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  3. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    My father has done research into the health risks of aspartame (my mother is Diabetes type 2 - mature onset), so as she likes a sweet flavour with her porridge and tea etc, as she could no longer have sugar, he looked into it.

    Some research (I am not able to quote the source unforunately) mentions lack of upper body strength, particulalry the upper arms, after taking aspartane as a sweetener for an extended peiod..  Has anyone else heard tell of this?  I am not in any way pretending to be an expert in this, but its just what I've heard.
     
  4. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Many different governmental agencies think its safe to their standards.  Those with differing views usually aren't using peer-reviewed science for their claims, mostly anecdotal evidence.

    At the personal level, are those government standards good enough for you?

    I don't like all the sweetness in things and empty calories so I enjoy aspartame. I don't need a non-calorie sweetener for health reasons but I prefer it to the heavily sugared options so prevalent in our society.
     
  5. siduri

    siduri

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    Phatch, you can do what you like but I find that the use of aspartame and saccharine has made people even more addicted to the sweet taste than sugar because people will be more wary of eating huge quantities of sugar but will easily consume tons of aspartame-sweetened things. 

    In terms of scientific research, I have no studies in mind, neither peer-reviewed nor otherwise, to show that it's dangerous, I simply apply the fundamental principle in this sort of scientific research of assessing damage: we can't ever prove A doesn't do B but only that it does.  We can show a drug does cure something, but not that it doesn't harm anything.  We can keep testing and trying our best to find it to be dangerous, and if we still can't find any danger in it, we may be reassured, but we can never prove something doesn't do something.  

    As for governmental agencies, they used to be reliable, but I'm not so sure I trust them now with the incredible pressure of lobbies and the large quantities of greed involved.   And it's not the government that tests the stuff it approves, it's up to the company that produces it.  I see too much room for bias, and it is too easy to fudge, to cherry-pick, to skew randomization, etc  without it ever appearing in such a way that the peers reviewing it can see it. 
     
  6. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I fully respect people having higher standards than government agencies.

    My aspartame intake is only in Caffiene Free Diet Coke. Doctor requires me to be caffeine free and I like the taste of CFDC. Sugared drinks are too sweet and empty calories. Of course, I feel the same way about most alcohol too and the Dr. also requires I skip alcohol.
     
  7. mgchef

    mgchef

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    Diet drinks are worse for you than regular soda, because they can slow down your metabolism. Also, its horrible for society. Now, people think oh what the heck, might as well eat this donut, just one won't affect me, plus I had that diet coke today. Believe it or not, that's what people think these days. I don't drink soda as I didn't grow up drinking it. It makes you to used to artifical tastes, and you don't like or appreciate good foods. Now don't take this the wrong way, don't yell at me, but that's why America doesn't have culture. I like the oppurtunities here, but what the people eat here is just sad. I will probably move back to Switzerland when I grow up for an apprenticeship, it has oppurtunitys and good food, and good culture. Just PLEASE don't start yelling at me and calling me stupid.
     
  8. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think your claims are all that supportable  but that's not the same as calling someone stupid.
     
  9. charron

    charron

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    lol mgchef, why would anyone call you stupid? 

    I can't agree with your generalized condemnation of American 'culture', especially in the company of so many of them here at Chef Talk who gather for the express purpose of cooking good food well, and eating well, but you are entitled to your opinion.  I think good on you for choosing to lead a healthy and food-wholesome lifestyle, especially at such an age and in the face of often-overwhelming media trying to convince you otherwise.  Still, I think not-so-good on you for turning such a broad sweeping, critical finger on the American public at large.  Such is my opinion, and even if it is contrary to yours it does not mean I think you are stupid.


    As for aspartame, I am not a fan.  I don't like overly sweet foods and drink to begin with, and I can't get past a very chemically taste.  I can see it's usefulness for people with health issues, but I am fortunate enough, health-wise, to have more options.  My own knee-jerk reaction has me thinking anything artificial is unhealthy but I have no facts to back up my beliefs. 
     
  10. homemadecook

    homemadecook

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    Hi everyone , I'm so glad reading many opinion it help me well. But Why stupid is involved here. LOl.. ! To sum up my understanding drugs or chemical that use to much will have a sided effect or it can be dangerous and harmful .
     
  11. mgchef

    mgchef

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    Thank you Charron. I didn't mean every American eats McDonalds, and other bad foods. I'm not saying EVERYBODY in the U.S has no culture, just less people than in other countrys and more obesity. I know lots of people that are progressively trying more and more good foods out, and instead of watching TV, make a good home meal at night, and every now and then throw a fancy dinner party, like some of my parents friends. Also, lots of people will start saying stereotypical jokes when I tell them things like Americans( again, not everyone just less than other countrys) have no culture. It gets annoying, and they say oh what would you know, ive even heard a man i talked to at my dads store say stupid europeans to his wife when I walked away. That's why, I just didn't wanna get yelled at.
     
  12. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    mgchef - It's only the bad news that makes headlines (re fast food etc), and the bad apple that spoils the whole barrel (as in the over-used stereotypes, anything that one may have heard about any people from any region, etc etc). They are merely based on a small portion of the misguided people from elsewhere of a particular population - please nobody take offence.  This is not my intention, just trying to express how I see stereotypes being created.

    When is the last time anyone heard a good news story?  It's all doom and gloom.  One TV station a few years ago here tried to make  a point of having one good/happy news story a day in the evening broadcast.  That attempt was soon discontinued.

    As for sweeteners, I'd rather use real sugar for my one coffee a day and drink plain club soda for the rest of the day (love the burps ).  Or get sweetness from a piece of fruit.
     
  13. french fries

    french fries

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    Quote:
    I KNOW! I have the same problem: as a European, whenever I walk into a store here in America and tell them that Americans have no culture and have a lot of obesity, they all start with their stereotypes (even though I always make it a point to insist I'm talking about MOST Americans, not ALL). Go figure why???? I mean, I'm almost CERTAIN that if an American went to Europe, and walked into a store and said that Europeans have a lot of culture and are thin, the Europeans wouldn't take the piss, now would they?

    Double standards....pfffft.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2010
  14. scuppernong

    scuppernong

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    Aspartame can be dangerous to people with PKU because of its breakdown product.There's alot of activism and hoaxes about the substance being the cause of other mental defects, and some studies have been done which might verify it. If it's something you're really worried about, there are other substitutes on the market, like Sucralose, which studies conducted so far have shown very little health risk to it, not to mention it's better suited for cooking (Aspartame reacts to heat), and it is much sweeter than Aspartame, anyway.