Artificial Sweetener: Friend or Foe?

artifical sweetener

As has already been stated in various articles on this blog, I am a big tea drinker. When I would study for exams at university I drank it like I breathed air – constantly.

I decided to swap out sugar for sweetener. Less calories, less chance of diabetes and rotting teeth; all that fun stuff. I didn’t think it was a big deal, it just made logical sense. Then I went to open my front door…

I put the key in the lock and went to twist it but my hand locked up. It froze around the key and I felt the tendons in my forearm pulsating. Gross! I had to peel my fingers back off the key with my other hand. Sounds so bad writing this! I thought it was odd but I’m kind of bad for ignoring health signs so I shrugged it off.

Then I went to unbutton my shirt and my hand froze again, the same horrible pang danced around in my arm. It happened multiple times in one day and I got irritated mostly because of the inconvenience. After reaching for my mug of tea and having my hand spazz out on me again the eureka moment finally hit. Maybe it was the sweetener!

I did some research on the topic, looking at legit sources like the BBC, Guardian and NHS (by legit, I mean accountable for what they say). I’ve got to say they didn’t confirm my fears. Other none legit sources of course had controversial warnings and horror stories. So did I give in?

No! When you’ve convinced yourself, something is fact, you’ll look for things that confirm you’re right – FACT. However, I tried to be smart about it and work out what it was in the sweetener that could be causing these weird arthritis moments.

Most people seemed to point towards aspartame.

I found that aspartame may be the issue as it contains methanol. Methanol can be toxic for your body in high amounts because it can convert into formaldehyde. Now, big words are coming in here and I feel like they just confuse the situation. What I’m trying to show here is I basically looked in to it. Formaldehyde is a dangerous compound but it’s something your body produces anyway in much larger quantities.

The amount of aspartame you’d have to consume to get a lot of methanol in your system would be crazy. I don’t mean 20 cups of tea crazy either. One study had participants consume 200mg per kg of bodyweight of aspartame and found nothing! No dangerous levels of formaldehyde or methanol poisoning.

Some websites also warn that artificial sweetener can give you cancer, which has also been heavily researched and disproved. Companies often invest in research that supports their products and only publicise positive findings so I always take these studies with a pinch of salt.

So, yeah. Artificial sweetener I guess is a friend rather than a foe. Who saw that conclusion coming? I really don’t know why my hands were seizing up on me, maybe I’m dying – who knows! Despite all the research though I still decided to ditch the artificial sweetener. I just figured it’s better to put natural things in your body rather than these things that have crazy long names in them.

Rather than giving ourselves a headache about what’s in what, let’s just have C12H22O11 (Sugar).

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