Thinking Beyond The Wrapper
And finally, we have come to our last topic of discussion, which is that of artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are cheap, many times sweeter than sugar, and contain zero calories! This sounds great, doesn’t it? It is not that simple. Probably the most common artificial sweetener is aspartame, also known as Equal, Spoonful, and NutraSweet.
Aspartame is another man-made substance (see a pattern here?) made of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. It’s effects on the body are shockingly dangerous. Aspartic kills neurons in the brain, despite the protective blood brain barrier we have to shield our brain from harmful substances. Long-term exposure of the brain to this toxin can lead to migraines, memory and hearing loss, and vision problems, to name a few (Mercola).
Phenylalanine, which makes up 50% of aspartame, can also have negative effects on the brain. When aspartame is consumed, it raises the level of this phenylalanine in the blood, decreasing the amount of seratonin in the brain, which leads to emotional disorders, abnormal brain functions, and brain damage (Mercola).
And finally, methanol (which makes up 10% of aspartame) is, in fact, a deadly toxin to the body, and is certainly not fit to be ingested. An EPA assessment of methanol states that “methanol is considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed. In the body, methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde and formic acid; both of these metabolites are toxic.” Formaldehyde is a toxin which causes cancer, birth defects, among other diseases (Mercola).
The scary thing to consider is the sheer quantity of this toxic stuff (artificial sweeteners) that people consume on a daily basis. The EPA advised a limit of 7.8 mg of methanol each day. Only one liter (about four cups) of an aspartame-sweetened beverage contained a blistering 56 mg of methanol. So heavy diet-soda drinkers could very well exceed the limit by as many as 32 times, consuming an incredible 250 mg of methanol each day! The consequences wrought on the body are just unthinkable. Aspartame is only one classic example of the many types of artificial sweeteners which are consumed on a daily basis (Mercola). Is it truly worth it to drink a diet soda only to save a few calories? We are so tricked today in our culture, thinking that “zero calorie” or “low calorie” foods are healthier. Indeed, it is often completely the opposite!
You may have noticed that most of the chemicals covered today were carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Why is this such a noticeable trend? Because what cancer really is is the body’s attempt to “corral” all the toxins and poisons that it’s exposed to. Many times, toxic chemicals are found inside tumors. The body is simply trying to keep all of this toxic junk out of the bloodstream. This results in cancer. Remember the 3,000 “additives” mentioned at the beginning of this paper? Those 3,000 additives are one of the main causes of cancer today (Evans).
Even though these chemicals may be consumed in small quantities, add them up over a period of several years, and the effects could be and frequently are disease and death. And remember, we have covered only a few of the thousands of of toxic chemicals which most people consume on a daily basis.
Our bodies are simply not designed to handle chemicals. As the rate of cancer and other diseases continue to increase, we pay dearly for eating processed foods. Disease will not occur the second we eat a processed food, but over time, the chemicals that have constantly bombarded the body will run their course, bringing tragic consequences.
Most of the processed food offered to us in the grocery store has been stripped of its nutrition, colored, artificially sweetened, and contains artery-clogging fats. It is no longer nourishment to our bodies. It is a man-made substance which tastes good (sometimes!), is very convenient, and comes in attractive little packages. Considering all, one should come to the conclusion that it is just not worthputting processed foods into our bodies. They were not designed to deal with chemicals like these, and never will be. The body was made to handle food in its natural state. What a difference it would make if people started to consider more of what they’re using to fuel their bodies and began to “think beyond the wrapper”!
Do you remember the Twinkies mentioned at the beginning of this paper? It turns out that Twinkies contain coloring, preservatives, trans fats, and artificial sweeteners: everything that was covered in this paper! And not only Twinkies, but most other processed foods contain several, if not all, of the chemicals covered today. So now, as you stand educated about the truth of processed foods, please consider this question once again: would you rather eat a Twinkie or an apple?
(Dr.) Mercola. “Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods.” Mercola.com. 2011. Web. Accessed 16 Apr. 2012 from <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/06/aspartame-most-dangerous- substance-added-to-food.aspx>
Evans, Kim. “ Take a Look at the Chemicals in Processed Foods.” NaturalNews.com.2010. Web. Accessed 6 Apr. 2012 from <http://www.naturalnews.com/027969_processed_foods_chemicals.html>
***So thus concludes the series on “Thinking Beyond The Wrapper”. I hope you enjoyed it, and learned a thing or two about processed foods. I certainly did, and I would not have spent nearly the amount of time researching this if it hadn’t been a school assignment! :)
Have a wonderful Saturday!