Aspartame: eating yourself sick?!

What came first, the chicken or the egg? A question that has been unanswered for centuries. A similar question is being discussed surrounding aspartame, an artificial sweetener consumed by millions of people every day. Critics claim that aspartame is a silent killer and strongly challenge its use in supermarket products. Avid users and producers dismiss the complaints as nonsense. Because yes, what came first, the clinical picture or the (increased) need for aspartame?! Aspartame is considered one of the most controversial topics in the food and drug world today. There are two camps in this heated battle over the alleged (in)safety of this sweetener: the people who have been harmed by the use of aspartame and the proponents of the use of aspartame, who blindly trust the FDA (Food and Drug Administration ) . which has labeled aspartame as a safe product.

What is the origin of the aspartame controversy?

chemical company Searle discovered aspartame, during the search for a substance that could serve as the basis for a drug against stomach ulcers . By chance it was discovered that aspartame has a very sweet taste, a sweetening power that is even 150 times greater than that of sugar! Aspartame was modified into the artificial sweetener NutraSweet , which was approved and found safe by the FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) in 1981. It is speculated that this approval is due to doctored research results from studies conducted by the manufacturer.
However, some time after this approval it was discovered that other products from the same company sometimes caused serious side effects in people. After further research with mice, it was discovered that holes appeared in the brains of the mice after administering aspartic acid, an important component of aspartame.


Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that has appeared on the food market under various names and in various products. Aspartame is also found in certain medicines and vitamin preparations.

Some products containing aspartame

Actimel Light


Bar le Duc

Bentasil throat sweets



Davitamon chewable vitamins

Herbalife products



Freedent chewing gum


Diet soft drinks

Laekerol candy pastilles


Optimel drink and yoghurt



Sisi Orange

Sportlife chewing gum

Stimorol chewing gum


Xylifresh chewing gum

Ice tea


The (bio)chemistry behind aspartame

Aspartame is made up of three different chemicals , namely 40% aspartic acid, 50% phenylalanine and 10% methanol. Aspartame decomposes at temperatures above 105 degrees Celsius and then loses its sweet taste.
Aspartame is converted into the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine by our digestive enzymes peptidase and esterase. These amino acids are found in various meals. Small amounts of methanol are also produced during the breakdown of aspartame . This is oxidized to first formaldehyde and then formic acid.

The alleged (in)safety of aspartame

Aspartame in itself is not unsafe or harmful . However, formaldehyde and formic acid, which are formed as a result of the metabolism of methanol, one of the components of aspartame, are.


Formaldehyde reacts with the amino acids in proteins. Formaldehyde is stored in our fatty tissue , from where it is very slowly removed by metabolism. When formaldehyde is applied on its own, without other amino acids, it acts as a nerve agent .

Formic acid

Formic acid disrupts the function of the mitochondria in the cell. Formic acid is now widely used as an insect repellent .

Is aspartame carcinogenic?

When aspartame is present in a product for a longer period of time, it can be partly broken down into aspartylphenylalanine (DKP). DKP can, under certain conditions, be converted to nitroamine in the intestines, which may have a carcinogenic effect.

Toxic dose

Various studies have shown that aspartame does not cause an increased concentration of methanol in the blood, provided the product is consumed in moderation. From more than 50 mg/kilo body weight of aspartame, increased concentrations of methanol in the blood are noticeable. Alcoholic drinks block the toxic effect of methanol because it contains ethanol, which prevents methanol from being metabolized.

Aspartame and depression?

Phenylalanine and serotonin, the ‘ happiness hormone ‘, have to compete for the same transit channel in our brains. When there is too much phenylalanine in our brains, there is less room for serotonin . And a deficiency of serotonin can lead to… that’s right, depression !

Current state of affairs

The safety of aspartame is a topic that has not yet been discussed and will not be discussed for a long time. While one study guarantees the safety of aspartame, another study emerges that drastically reduces the safety of aspartame. What is true now? Who or what should you believe? I think the most important thing is that you decide for yourself about the added value of aspartame in your life. Does this outweigh the possible disadvantages? Only you can make that decision .

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