The Holiday season is here and we have been brainwashed by society and the media to fear this time as a ticking timebomb for weight gain. We are inundated with ads of women joyously gulping down diet soda or adding zero-calorie sweeteners to their coffee and tea. However, they may be doing more harm than good.
The ever popular zero calorie sweetener, aspartame has been under much scrutiny over the past couple decades. Sold under the brand names NutraSweet® and Equal®, aspartame has been linked numerous health ailments, including cancer. A recent study, however, reveals another aspect of the product that no one saw coming.
Aspartame may not prevent weight gain, but rather prevent weight loss, the opposite of what it claims to do. A research team at Massachusetts General Hospital found that when our bodies break down aspartame, phenylalanine is produced. Phenylalanine inhibits the action of an enzyme in our bodies which prevents metabolic syndrome.
This can lead to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This study also revealed that rats who were fed aspartame actually gained weight as compared with a control group of mice who were fed a similar diet excluding aspartame.
The report is published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. The gut enzyme that aspartame prevents from working is called intestinal alkaline phosphatase, or IAP. IAP works to prevent obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. It is interesting that aspartame is advertised as an agent of weight loss when it actually does the opposite.
Perhaps there is controversy around this popular sugar substitute, but I prefer to not take my chances.