Aspartame sensitivity may exist only in sufferers’ minds

By Tom Nordlie • Published: June 26th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The artificial sweetener aspartame [ASS-purr-taym] hit supermarket shelves in the early 1980s as an ingredient in reduced-calorie foods and beverages.

Controversy has followed it ever since.

Critics charge that aspartame causes numerous health problems, including headaches, seizures and even cancer.

However, the F-D-A studied aspartame before approving it for U-S markets and pronounced it safe for human consumption.

Nonetheless, some people maintain that they suffer adverse reactions after consuming products made with aspartame.

A group of researchers in the United Kingdom recently investigated these claims. Their findings appeared in the journal PLOS-One.

The scientists recruited about 100 participants. Half of them reported being sensitive to aspartame; the other half said they had no problems with it.

Each participant attended two clinical sessions. Each time, they ate a cereal bar. One was sweetened with sugar, the other with aspartame, but the participants didn’t know which was which.

The sessions included blood and urine testing to pinpoint any biochemical changes caused by the snack. Participants were also asked if they noticed any physical or psychological changes after eating the cereal bar.

When the results were tabulated, the blood and urine tests didn’t find anything unusual. Furthermore, the supposedly sensitive individuals were just as likely to report ill effects from the bars containing sugar as those containing aspartame.

These results don’t categorically prove that aspartame sensitivity is a myth … but they don’t support the idea that it’s real.

Perhaps the bottom line is this: If the idea of eating something that contains aspartame bothers you, then simply avoid it.