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Name Your Poison

Nov 8, 2007
I love slang expressions like "name your poison" and enjoy looking them up to find the origin of the expression and the meanings attributed to it. They are fun plays with metaphors and have a strong American basis. I've seen attempts to trace this one all the way back to Aristotle, but for the majority of us, we picture it barked by a bartender as the patron slides up on the stool. So for the purposes of this article, that meaning is appropriate. Let me start by naming one of my poisons, let's say, "Equal".

Most of you are thinking isn't that the little blue package we add to our coffee or drink to sweeten it up a bit and eliminate all of those nasty sugar calories? Correct, you are right on track with me. Equal is the brand name that aspartame is sold under as a sweetener, but the additive, aspartame, is in many other sugar-free and reduced-calorie items. A popular choice because it is about 200 times sweeter than a spoonful of sugar. Just a gram of it replaces two spoonfuls of sugar. You may be thinking that is great at this point. Nice and sweet without those added sugar calories and it's going to make me nice and trim. Wipe that thought completely out of your mind and replace it with this one, "Aspartame is a poison". I am not going to dive into how the FDA allowed this on the market in the early 80's or the politics behind it. I've addressed that in other articles and you can find it via any search engine.

It's ironic that most poisons that actually kill an organism have a bit of a sweet taste. Aspartame may not work so immediate, but the toxic effect over a period of time leaves a long trail of health problems and diseases in its wake. Almost one hundred symptoms and health problems have been documented for aspartame and 75% of calls to the FDA Adverse Monitoring System are about aspartame. I don't want to get too technical and bore you with chemistry but we need just a bit of it to understand the dangers. Aspartame is made of three ingredients, two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, and one alcohol, methanol.

Methanol is an alcohol and is in many products that we use. Antifreeze, glass cleaner and paint thinners contain methanol. A pet will actually drink antifreeze because of the sweet taste and die from the poisonous effect. Do you think of it as "Equal" in those products? Methanol is also wood or grain alcohol, which is distilled from fermented wood and is the basis for the common "moonshine" we think of in the backwoods. Don't be totally scared off by Methanol, as it is in some common products we ingest, like wine and even in some types of fruit naturally. The key thing there is that it is very minute amounts in the wine and the fruit also contains other compounds that bind to the methanol and pass it harmlessly through our body and excreted.

The danger in aspartame is that your body actually digests it. Enzymes in your liver break it down into methanol and another toxin, formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, the same thing a mortician uses to embalm a corpse. I think I might pass on a Long Island ice tea at the bar with methanol and formaldehyde in it, even if they used the "top-shelf" ones. The main concern with this has always been to what extent these toxic compounds are stored in your body and the toxic effects over a period of time. There are documented acute reactions to aspartame, but the concern is longer term use and at what levels. Further consider ingestion by a child or young adult where the dosage has a more profound effect due to a lower body weight.

Without aspartame, your body gets about 10 mg a day from a normal diet. One 12 oz. can of a beverage with aspartame contains about 200 mg. Consider a diet where it is contained in other diet products and beverages and used regularly each and every day. It would not take much to approach 1000 mg a day or 100 times a diet without aspartame. Put aside the science for a minute and consider this. Aspartame breaks down into known toxins, methanol and formaldehyde. They are unbound by other compounds and pass through your intestinal walls and into the bloodstream like any of the needed nutrients do. Pumped by the blood throughout your body, and in direct contact with your vital body organs.

If you are a gambling person by nature, you might choose to play along with the limited studies funded by the manufacturer of aspartame that "suggests" it most likely won't accumulate to really toxic levels and destroy normal cells and your health. Roll the dice if you will. Formaldehyde breaks down into formic acid which is extremely toxic. The body can get rid of normal amounts but add a hundred times the normal amount from the aspartame. Still want to roll the dice with the hope the body will get rid of that amount too? The cells in your optic nerve are one of the most sensitive to formic acid and that is why blindness and blurred vision are directly tied to methanol poisoning.

So here you have the dark side of aspartame and it is my hope that you use this information as the catalyst to research this hazard more fully and make a more informed decision about what you put into your body. If you have seen an increase in muscle and joint aches, attention and concentration problems, mood disorder, memory loss, blurred vision and slurred speech over time and use products with aspartame, you may want to move much quicker in deciding if aspartame may be the direct cause of those ailments.
About the Author
Swimwear may be my business, but health and nutrition are my passion. Brought to you by your friends at http://www.shirleyandcompany Where the most stylish and unique swimwear and Juicy Couture clothing and accessories are just a click away
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