As part of my attempt to raise awareness I have interviewed two doctors.I have decided to allows the readers again to assess what they think of the advice they give (as I have with the ingredients).

Dr Karuna Chatturvedi is a dietician at Apollo Hospital. “I have seen several patients over the past few years complaining of chronic fatigue and frequent headaches. What is common amongst them all is that artificially sweetened food, through aspartame makes up a huge component of their daily intake.”

She feels aspartame is extremely dangerous for health and wellbeing. “I always discourage my patients from sweetened or sugar-free beverages and desserts. It’s best to consume natural products,” she says.

Dr Shailesh Patel, a doctor at NHS feels the EFSA’s move is a step in the right direction. “Aspartame is injurious to the brain and can cause miscarriages and underweight babies to pregnant women, as well as several other birth defects,” he says.

Dr Patel believes the problem for which aspartame is still on the market is that it has not been possible to yet prove the dangers in cause and effect of it.  “But we have seen studies in which mice have developed cancer as a result of consumption of aspartame. So we can conclude its danger.”

“Amongst the widely believed hypotheses is this. Aspartame is digested and metabolized becoming methanol, this becomes itself formaldehyde, which can have toxic effects such as cancer and blindness,” says Dr Patel.

Update! Coke, Pepsi change ingredient

In March this year, it was reported that Coca Cola and PepsiCo are making changes to the production of “a certain ingredient” in their cola to avoid putting a cancer warning on their drinks.

This was to get around California’s new regulations to reduce the amount of a chemical called 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MI. This chemical was added to the list of chemicals covered by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as Proposition 65 in January.

High levels of that chemical have been linked to cancer in animals.

In news reports, both Coke and Pepsi have said that consumers will not notice any change in taste of the drinks.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in the US found unsafe levels of the chemical in cans of Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Dr Pepper and Whole Foods Markets Inc’s 365 Cola.

Now all this does come as a slap on to the FDA’s face, which still claims the drinks are safe. Reports cite FDA officials saying that consumers have to drink “well over a thousand cans of soda a day to reach the doses administered in the studies that have shown links to cancer in rodents”.

How can you lower your sugar intake?

There does exist a way to lower your sugar intake. And you can eat desserts too.

One thing is, instead of eating chocolatey cakes, you should create your own yoghurt parfaits. Try natural yoghurt and fill it with strawberries, cherries and other delicious fruits, such as mangos and pineapples.

Another thing you can do is instead of drinking soda, you can drink fruity drinks. And snack on wholesome cereal bars instead of sugary foods.

Should you drink diet sodas to lose weight?

Okay, so you want to stay thin and diet sodas contain sugar alternatives which help your quell your craving. If you’ve concluded that aspartame is not for you then you maybe torn between diet drinks and your aversion. But did you know there are studies stating that diet sodas may make you hungrier? 

In 2008, Purdue University found that artificial  can make you hungry. What they did was they fed a few rats yogurt sweetened with saccharin and other rats yogurt sweetened with sugar. The rats that consumed the yogurt sweetened with saccharin ended up consuming more calories.

There is also an eight year study which surveyed 3,700 Americans and revealed that those who drink three or more artificiallyz sweetened drinks per day are more likely to put on weight than those who don’t. And just less than a year ago, The Los Angelos Times reported that:

A study just presented at the American Stroke Assn.’s International Stroke Conference reported a link between the amount of diet soda someone drinks and the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

Alternatives to Aspartame?

We all like sugar. And none of us wants to lose weight. So how do we combine our desire to consume sugar and at the same time not gain weight? Well, luckily, experts have found alternatives. One such alternative (besides apartame) is Sucralose (Splenda).

Sucralose is good for those who want to lose weight, diabetics and people on low carbohydrates diets.

But experts find Splenda is also closely related to sugar and pesticides, and closely retains the properties of both, which makes it dangerous.

A safer alternative, however, comes in the form of Stevia. This is a herb found in Northern parts of South America, a shrub of the aster family. It is reportedly a natural or safe alternative to sugar.

But it does not have FDA approval as yet. However, it is allowed to be sold as a dietary supplement and can be used as a sweetner. Many food chains sell Stevia.

Experts say there are several benefits of this drug, such as lowered blood pressure, no rise in blood sugar, improved digestion, and increased gum health, because it kills the bacteria that cause tooth decay. It’s been used in South America for centuries and several developed nations in Europe and Japan for the past forty years. However, it’s not won approval in the US yet because there are a few studies suggesting its harmful effects.