toxic or not tuesday (TNT) : aspartame

for the first ever TNT, i’ve chosen ASPARTAME. why? because it’s SO incredibly common.


what is aspartame?

scientifically speaking, it is a white, crystalline, odorless, slightly water-soluble non-carbohydrate powder synthesized from amino acids, that is 150–200 times as sweet as sugar. also known as E951, aspartame was discovered in 1965, and has been used in the US since the 1980’s.

how is it aspartame made?

aspartame is made from genetically engineered E. Coli. yes, you read that correctly. the nasty bacteria that causes diarrhea, UTIs, pneumonia, etc., is being genetically modified to excrete aspartame so you can have your sweet treats and drinks. here’s the patent (provided through a free engine since you don’t have access to the research database i do).

what is aspartame in?

more products than you think. it’s most commonly used as a low-calorie sugar substitute in soft drinks, table sweeteners, and other food products.  long story short, it’s probably in every low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage product you have in your kitchen, including carbonated soft drinks, flavored milks, powdered soft drinks, chewing gum, gelatins, dessert mixes, puddings and fillings, frozen desserts, yogurt, sweeteners, and some vitamins and sugar-free cough drops.

is aspartame “toxic”?


“but i heard it’s safe….?”

cigarette smokers in the 60’s heard the same thing about their cancer sticks. yes, there are more than 200 studies confirming its safety. but the bulk of cited research on the “safety” of aspartame comes from studies dated back to the 1980’s. not only that, but the research that was done was so incredibly botched and sketchy. anything that happened in the aspartame studies (such as moneys DYING, having seizures, rats developing malignant tumors, etc) were not included in the results. as someone who values research, i simply am dumbfounded. i’ve published research where my results weren’t what i was thinking they’d be, but it’s a part of research. being an ETHICAL researcher. you publish your results… not what you WANT. (ok, off my soapbox…)
recent research studies have commonly stated things such as, “recent research… has led to the suggestion that saccharine and cyclamates may be carcinogenic and, consequently, the government is questioning their use for many purposes.” various people all over the globe have stepped forward to share their stories, claiming aspartame either caused or partially caused mild problems such as headache, dizziness, digestive symptoms, and changes in mood, to more serious health issues such as alzheimer disease, birth defects, diabetes, gulf war syndrome, attention deficit disorders, parkinson disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and seizures.

if some research is saying one thing, but people are undeniably experiencing the exact opposite, i believe it’s worth looking into (and avoiding).

how does aspartame affect the body?

short story: chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting aspartame: brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson’s disease, alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.


other concerns – 

in one recent study, the health statistics for nearly 48,000 men and over 77,000 women over the age of 20 were reviewed, in which they found that men who consumed more than one diet soda per day had an increased risk of developing multiple myeloma and non-hodgkin’s lymphoma. this was the longest-ever human aspartame study, spanning 22 years. interestingly enough, this association was not found in women. leukemia was associated with diet soda intake in both sexes (source). see the second link below for more published medical concerns!

aspartame contains phenylalanine, which for some, can’t be properly metabolized. those people have phenylketonuria (PKU), and it is a rare inherited disease. because those with PKU cannot metabolize phenylalanine, it accumulates in the body and cause health problems including mental retardation. but to calm your fears, screening is required for all newborns in the US and many other countries.

“where can i read more?”

and here are a few interesting videos on aspartame – 


lemme know what you think of this TNT, and what you think the next one should be over!


* – there are more than 200 studies “showing” aspartame is “safe.” based on how those studies were conducted, how the data was collected, and how the data was presented, i personally have chosen to not uphold them as valid resources. the choice is yours. it’s your health. 

disclaimer: i am not a doctor or dietician. i hold a Master of Science degree. i have published research. i value research in the highest regard, and am committed to living the healthiest life style i can, with the research to back me up. my blog portrays these personal views and beliefs, but i welcome all sound comments and questions. it’s YOUR health, &  it’s YOUR choice (obviously). for me personally, when i find cited, peer-reviewed, published research that shows me FACTS that chemicals or ingredients are linked to anything that can essentially cause harm to my body, i do my very best to steer clear of it. anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows that all too well. all i ask here at AlmostExactly is that everyone is kind. 

18 thoughts on “toxic or not tuesday (TNT) : aspartame

  1. First, love your blog. Best resource I’ve found during my quitting shampoo/conditioner process. I am in full agreement about the grossness of aspartame, and was wondering about your thoughts on the stevia sweeteners that are out there? Is safe calorie free sweetening just too good to be true?

  2. Thanks God I stay away from anything “diet” (cause it tastes just awful), but hey! how am I supposed to replace my chewing gums? 🙂 seriously, that staff is everywhere. 😦

      1. I did manage to find a couple of aspartame – free gums, but they had a lot of other nasty stuff in them. The best one I found is with xylitol..not ideal, but I will have to stick to that for the moment. 🙂

  3. Hi!! I have a questions about hair! So I am doing the vinegar rinse after I shampoo, do you think I should do vinegar and organic conditioner? Ah I’m so confused!! Since I read that vinegar can’t exactly replace conditioner, what do you recommend!?? 🙂

    1. hey elizabeth! it depends on what your hair needs. if it’s dry or frizzy or anything, you can deep condition. I have a whole no-poo friendly deep conditioners post if you wanna check it out! also, if you want to use an organic conditioner, just be sure it doesn’t have any silicones, sulfates or parabens 🙂

  4. hey alex! i love this post. i think there needs to be so much more awareness out there about the harmful effects of aspartame. im a nurse and i used to suffer migraines of the worst kind. i would half to leave my shift halfway through (which is very difficult as a nurse) as I would literally be vomiting from the pain. When I went traveling last year to Asia, my migraines ceased altogether. I racked my brain to figure out why and finally realized that I was no longer consuming aspartame. I didn’t want to waste money on diet pop or coffee/teas (which i would ALWAYS add sweetener to) so I just stopped having it. Since this realization, I have been migraine free. I am so sensitive to aspartame that chewing one piece of gum can trigger a migraine. I wish everyone would educate themselves on the harm we, as a society, inflict on ourselves and really appreciate you leading the way in that. Thanks again.

    1. hey janelle! thank you SO much for sharing your story! i’m glad you’re okay 🙂 even if we help one person, that’s one person’s life that’ll be a little better! that’s my goal 🙂

  5. I remember going to my OB/GYN 4 years ago when I was pregnant with my son and she told absolutely NO artificial sweeteners of any kind during pregnancy. Not that I ever liked “diet” anything prior to that, but I cut it out of my diet completely while pregnant and never went back. I remember when she told me that my husband immediately began researching it, so it’s nothing new to us and we always tell our families about it. I make it absolutely known that my son is NOT to have any artificial anything, despite what our families think (and my mom is a nurse too, so going against her 20+ years is kinda tough lol). So yeah, thank you to my OB/GYN for helping us make an informed decision. And thank YOU for putting it out there again that this stuff is bad bad bad in every sense of the word.

  6. Hey Alex! I’m loving the TonT idea so far! Keep up the good work(: but as far as a suggestion or a new post I have an idea myself. Summer is rapidly approaching and i i loved your sunblock post. But now that’s it getting warmer the mosquitoes and bugs are starting to come out. I’m Inge market for a natural bug repellent and have done some research on it and wondered if you had any thoughts or tips on the matter or if you could do a DIY bug spray for the body! Thanks for this blog post, I’m kind of addicted to it lol ❤ Sam

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