Sunday, 5 February 2012

Aspartame – A great example of the chaos and confusion seen today

Until this morning I had never heard of aspartame, I now know it is a sweetener used in many products as a replacement for sugar. Now what pricked my attention was an article about scientists who claim sugar is a toxin and should be regulated. Meaning if this was to happen most of the sugar would be replaced with aspartame type substances like sucralose, which is found in most diet versions of carbonated drinks and many other products, especially the diet or light ones.

This is where we come to the chaos and confusion; on one side we have the sugar is bad camp stating too much sugar will have adverse effects on one’s health, which is obvious. Sugar is far worse than fat, because at least fat is difficult to break down and requires fat from the body to do so; meaning fat burns fat. Sugar on the other hand, if taken excessively without being utilized, just turns into fat the body stores. This is why consuming large amounts of white bread, white rice, crisps, and many other products are bad for you and can cause obesity, if eaten to excess.

Sugar in my opinion is a drug as I have mentioned before, it is similar to salt in so much as we need it but we abuse it. From what I have read in the past, the sugar love comes from our ancestors, as they were deprived of sugar most of the time when out hunting or foraging. When they found sugar they gorged on it, knowing they may not be able to find more for some time.

Nowadays we do not have this problem with finding sugars, it is alarmingly added to so many products whether it is needed or not. I was quite surprised the amounts of sugar added to products, so finding a solution that can lessen sugar intake and be less harmful to the body, should be seen as good. To some aspartame falls in that category; it has been used for over 25 years and most people have no ill side effects from taking it.

On the other hand though there are a plethora of articles stating aspartame is dangerous, and can cause many harmful side effects. You can find many articles on the internet claiming how bad the substance is, and how it can cause a multitude of nastiness to your body. According to researchers and physicians, aspartame has the following side effects: Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.

You can find many articles on the internet claiming the harmful effects of this substance, but who is right and who is just claiming a view point for their own gain. Or are they both right, which would make me think why so much of either product added to our food. It is virtually impossible to by food products without one of these substances added unless you grow your own food or can afford to buy organic or even non processed food.

To many this is not as easy as it sounds, as it requires time, and time is not a commodity many families have in plentiful supply. What needs to happen is for the government instead of regulating sugar, they should put more emphasis on the companies who make the food products, making them more responsible towards the extra ingredients added; sometimes deliberately to entice the consumer into buying more. Caffeine is another example of a drug added to things for example and quite ironically, to headache tablets.

In a way this stems back to the argument of exponential growth and the desire for countries, and companies to have to continuously grow and expand their profitability and wealth. As well as the different government’s looking after the interests of the wealthy few and disregarding the rest

Until we stop the root cause of the harmful way society works then we will always have this chaos and confusion over everything.

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