Aspartame: Diet Soda Companies Paint a False Picture

In college I used to slam Diet Cokes. This was also the unfortunate phase of sugar-free gum, Wow chips, and Snackwell’s cookies. But all these diet foods did nothing but make me fat. As I cleared them out of my life a decade ago, I realized that the weight just naturally fell off. This is my story, but I’ve heard it told time and time again. So with this in mind, it seems a bit preposterous that soda manufacturers paint a picture of diet soda made with aspartame as a healthy substitution for sugar. It’s even presented as safe for diabetics.

Read more about aspartame. Is it really made from poop?

Let’s take a closer look at aspartame. It’s an artificial sweetener that’s most commonly used in diet sodas. It’s meant to copy the flavor of sugar but instead, its super strong flavor peaks your appetite and makes you crave more food. That’s why if you’re looking to lose weight one of the first things you should do is switch diet soda for water. If you’re craving a soda, have the real stuff once in a while. Although you should make sure it’s made real sugar not high fructose corn syrup, another ingredient that causes weight gain.

Aspartame is made with 10 percent methanol or wood alcohol. According to Dr. Mercola, it can kill neurons and lead to neurological problems. Methanol breaks down differently in the human body than it does in animals that’s why some animal testing just isn’t valid. It’s also made with 40 percent asparic acid which breaks down into formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is linked to breast and prostate cancer. And finally, it’s made with 50 percent phenylalanine, which in high amounts can lead to emotional problems and depression.

Read more about FDA rejecting a ban on aspartame

But yet, 20 percent of the U.S. population consumes diet soda so it’s a very important market for Coca-Cola and other soda manufacturers and there’s a big incentive for the general public to continue to be accepting of aspartame even if it leads to weight gain and more serious health issues down the line.

[Editor's Note: If you want to eliminate unhealthy ingredients and chemical additives from your diet for good, click here to sign up for a Naturally Savvy Get Healthy Challenge.]

Image: Dain Sandoval

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By Sara Novak| November 24, 2014
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Sara Novak

Sara Novak

Sara Novak specializes in health and food policy writing for Discovery Health. Her work has also been featured on TreeHugger,, TLC Cooking, and Animal Planet. After graduating from the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia, Sara headed up the communication efforts for a national scholarship program in Washington, D.C. Sara has also handled copy writing and public relations for a global environmental consulting firm. She loves fiddling with healthful recipes, traveling, and exploring life atop her yoga mat. Today, Sara lives in Charleston with her husband and two lovable cocker spaniels, Madison and Bella.

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