Archive for the ‘artificial sweeteners’ Category

Rumsfeld and aspartame approval

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Here’s something that surprised me.  The connection of Donald Rumsfeld to aspartame’s approval:

Seriously, though: Diet Coke is a nutritional void. Human bodies evolved to make use of a variety of foods, but I doubt isolated versions of phosphoric acid, etc., are among them. And aspartame, aka Nutrasweet, may cause active damage.

Can this questionable brew be made “healthy” by adding a few isolated nutrients, quite likely conjured up in the bustling labs of Archer Daniels Midland?

No, I don’t think it works that way. Michael Pollan’s recent New York Times Magazine piece exposed the absurdity of that notion. It turns out that systematically stripping nutrition out of food, and then adding it later in isolated form, is a bust. Isolated vitamins and other nutrients just don’t pack the same benefits as when they occur in whole foods.

Then there’s the question of aspartame. Italian researchers writing in Environmental Health Perspectives recently added (PDF) to a growing body of literature pointing to aspartame’s possible role as a carcinogen.

Why would the FDA allow it? In 1981, a company called Searle owned the patent on aspartame, already known, paradoxically, as Nutrasweet. The company’s CEO? Donald Rumsfeld — not too far removed from serving as Gerald Ford’s secretary of defense. Don’t believe me? Check it out.

Then-president Ronald Reagan had appointed a man named Arthur Hull Hayes as his FDA chair. In 1981, Hayes approved aspartame over the objections of several internal panels.

So I checked out the link provided on that “check it out” line:

The lemonade was free. The strawberries and the chewing gum were, too. These confections, offered at a press conference by G.D. Searle & Company yesterday, are just a few of the food items that will contain the company’s new low-calorie sweetener.

The sweetener is aspartame, a food additive approved Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration. Many believe the additive will eventually steal away much of the existing $115 million annual demand for saccharin, currently the only substitute for sugar in the United States, and possibly convert some sugar users as well.

…..(goes on about aspartame and Searle )….

The company has been under the command of Donald H. Rumsfeld, its president and chief executive, since 1977. Mr. Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense in the Ford Administration and before that had served four terms in Congress.

NY Times, 1981.  Fairly reliable, I would say.

Whatever Happened to TAB?

Friday, July 16th, 2010

When I was in college I had a roommate one year who drank TAB at what seemed like a huge rate to me at that time.   And it just occurred to me that it is rarely seen anymore.  And indeed, upon googling “TAB” and “Tab soda” one gets only a few suggested sites that have anything to do with soda and not something else.  So I picked up this bit of history from wikipedia:

Tab is a diet cola soft drink produced by the Coca-Cola Company. The beverage is “marketed to consumers who want to keep ‘tabs’ on their weight.”[1][2]

As of 2009[update], Tab is sold in the countries of the Southern African Customs Union (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland), the United States (including the U.S. Virgin Islands), Hong Kong and Spain.[1]

Tab was introduced as a diet drink in 1963.[1] Coca-Cola’s marketing research department used its IBM 1401 computer to generate a list of over 250,000 four-letter words with one vowel, adding names suggested by the company’s own staff; the list was stripped of any words deemed unpronounceable or too similar to existing trademarks.[3] From a final list of about twenty names, “Tabb” was chosen, influenced by the possible play on words, and shortened to “Tab” during development, and designer Sid Dickens gave the name the capitalisation pattern (“TaB”) used in the logo.[citation needed]

Tab has been reformulated several times. It was initially sweetened with cyclamate. After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a ban on cyclamate in 1969, saccharin was used. In 1977, the FDA moved to ban saccharin. The ban proposal was rejected by the U.S. Congress, but it did require that all products containing saccharin carry a warning label that saccharin may cause bladder cancer (a regulation eliminated In 2000).[citation needed] Further studies find no evidence that saccharin has yet caused an increase in bladder cancer.[4]

At the height of its popularity, the Tab name was briefly extended to other diet soft drinks, including Tab Lemon-Lime and Tab Orange.[citation needed]

Tab’s popularity began to decline in 1982, with the introduction of Diet Coke.[1][2] A formula revision in 1984 blended saccharin with a small amount of aspartame; this is the formula that is currently marketed in North America.[citation needed]

Typically, Tab is now only found in supermarkets and convenience stores in 12-ounce cans, by 12-pack or 6-pack. It is also available in some places in two-liter bottles.

Tab sales have been dwarfed by those of Diet Coke, though enough people still prefer Tab to result in a production of about 3 million cases in 2008.[2]

Huh.  I didn’t realize that that was before Diet Coke.  I had forgotten that Diet Coke came out so late!   1982!  Wowee (I was halfway through college) .

I find  the description of the naming of it interesting.  I remember hearing that it was actually secretly short for “Totally Artificial Beverage” although I suppose that could have been its detractors who made that up!

It is still made with saccharine, however, so presumably if one thinks saccharine is safe and non-addictive then one could drink it…….

Found what appears to be a TAB fan website:

What about other sweeteners?

Friday, July 16th, 2010

So what about switching to saccharin instead, and using that to have sweetened ice tea or something like that?

Guide to Artificial Sweeteners:

  • Saccharin: Most people think that saccharin has been banned by the FDA, but this is not true. While saccharin was banned in other countries, it is still available in the United States and is making a comeback. Saccharin was shown to cause bladder cancer in very large doses in animals and was pulled from the shelves because of a public outcry. It also has a metallic after-taste that makes it not so palatable. Companies who manufacture saccharine will tell you that it passes through your body undigested (if this is true, it makes one wonder how it gets from the intestinal tract to the bladder to cause cancer?). Saccharin is again showing up in a lot of artificially sweetened foods because it is super sweet and is now blended with other sweeteners to mask the metallic taste.
  • Aspartame: (This is also called Nutrasweet or Equal). Aspartame breaks down into aspartate, phenylalanine and methanol in the body. The first two (aspartate and phenylalanine) are amino acids and fine for most people to take in, but no amount of methanol is good for your body. Manufacturers maintain that the amount of methanol is so small that you don’t have to worry about it, but others think differently. Aspartame has been shown to increase cancers 1 and has been associated with headache, dizziness, mood shifts, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps, joint pain, vision changes, slurred speech, diarrhea, seizures, memory loss, numbness and cramping in arms and legs, and fatigue.2
  • Sucralose (this is also known as Splenda) What a great name for a product! I’m almost tempted to try it, but since sucralose is an organochloride, I think I’ll stay away. Organochlorides are some of the most toxic substances on the earth (many pesticides are organochlorides and are toxic in small doses). Just because Splenda is an organochloride doesn’t mean it is toxic, but it should raise some eyebrows. Splenda has been shown to increase migraine headaches3 and needs more long-term studies to determine its safety.
  • Acesulfame K: This artificial sweetener has been associated with breast, thymus, and lung tumors.

    Another story

    Friday, July 16th, 2010

    I found this an inspiring story, one I could relate to:

    As I opened the refrigerator door, I noticed something missing. My massive 24 pack of diet soda was completely empty. As I rushed to the cupboard to quickly reload my sweet poison, I found myself searching through the entire pantry with utter determination and was crushed to find not one single can left. It was 2:30am, and that’s when I knew I had a serious problem. As I got into my car, I asked myself, “What am I doing? Its 2:30am and I’m driving to get another case of diet soda!” My addiction had completely taken hold of me and I needed to make an adjustment.


    Mostly I like the description of the addictive behavior.  Reminds me of some things I’ve done myself, although maybe not at 2:30 a.m.  or feelings of “how am I going to make it through the evening” when I happen to have run out.

    If you read the remainder of the story above, it seems he was not suffering severe side effects from sweeteners, but after he quit he realized that they likely were causing a whole bunch problems that he didn’t really realize he quite had until they got better — such as sleep, headaches, poor concentration.  The latter two are most of what I am hoping to cure. No major ills, but a constant sense of mood disorder, not being able to think as clearly as I used to or think I ought to be able to.  Of course, some of that can be blamed on increase work stress, age, …… But we’ll see.  My diet soda/artificial sweetener is not quite at zero (had one yesterday, one the day before, none today) but drastically reduced.

    Information on Aspartame

    Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

    The following is the sound (meaning medically sound) article I’ve been looking for to confirm what I’ve thought about addiction:

    Too bad I didn’t find it years ago on other occasions when I’ve looked, since it was probably there since it is dated 2000.  This time I googled HJ Roberts, the name of the author.  I wrote down his name while watching the Fox News clip that I included yesterday.

    Following is simply the initial summary found in the article:

     The habitual consumption of "diet" products containing the chemical
    aspartame not only risks aspartame disease but also clinical addiction.
    Thirty-three (5.6 percent) of 540 aspartame reactors in the author's
    recent series found it difficult or impossible to discontinue them
    because of severe withdrawal effects.  They or their reporting relatives
    (especially parents of afflicted children) specifically used the terms
    "addict" and "addiction."  Others who used comparable terms were
    excluded even though they experienced similar withdrawal symptoms. The
    FDA and members of Congress have been repeatedly urged by me and
    thousands of outraged aspartame reactors to declare aspartame products
    an "imminent public health hazard," and remove them from the market. The
    mounting evidence for their causation or aggravation of headache,
    seizures, depression, many neurologic disorders (most notably multiple
    sclerosis), visual difficulty, allergies, diabetic complications, and a
    host of other conditions — coupled with the potential for addiction —
    can be ignored no longer.
      "The beginning of wisdom is to call things by the right names."
    Chinese Proverb
      "I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp
    of experience." Patrick Henry (Speech to the Virginia Convention, 1775)
     Over half the adult population currently consumes products containing
    aspartame (NutraSweet®, Equal®).  A multibillion-dollar industry
    aggressively promotes thousands of items containing this chemical
    sweetener that consumers use in prodigious amounts to avoid sugar or
    lose weight... even though the latter intent often proves a delusion.
     I have described many serious side effects and medical/public health
    hazards attributable to aspartame products(1-4).  The neurologic,
    psychologic, eye, endocrine, metabolic and pediatric ravages in my data
    base of over 1,200 aspartame reactors, comprised of both patients and
    correspondents, are impressive.  Additionally, it is my increasing
    conviction that aspartame products can cause, aggravate or accelerate
    migraine (5), seizures (6), multiple sclerosis (3), diabetes and its
    complications (7), Alzheimer's disease (8,9), and even brain tumors
    (10).  The clinical and scientific basis for these assertions have been
    detailed previously.
     Unfortunately, another tragic problem has been neglected:  addiction to
    aspartame products.  Persons consuming large amounts not only may suffer
    aspartame disease, but also have difficulty stopping them because of
    violent and prolonged withdrawal reactions... the hallmark of addiction.
    Recovered alcoholic patients repeatedly stated that they felt worse
    after avoiding aspartame than alcohol, and asserted that they had traded
    one addiction for another.  My experience, coupled with more than 10,000
    consumers who volunteered their complaints to the Food and Drug
    Administration (FDA) and manufacturers, reflects the magnitude of this
    widespread unrecognized affliction.
     In view of the controversial nature and implications of this subject,
    clarification of my status at the outset is relevant.  I practised many
    years as a primary care internist and medical consultant prior to
    encountering aspartame disease.  I continue to remain corporate neutral
    — that is, no grants, monies or other inducements were received from
    industry, government or other institutions.

    This is not a difficult report to read. It has lots of specific case examples.

    A slightly different idea for breaking the addiction.

    Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

    I though this was an interesting idea, a little bit different from the run of the mill:

    Unfortunately, I really couldn’t afford an expensive nutritionist or registered dietitian to give me advice about what to do, and most websites I found simply told me about the “dangers of diet soda”, but didn’t tell me what I could do to beat the addiction! So I not only had a big problem, but I had no solution.

    So I invented a solution. And here is what I did:

    – Sugar-free gum has artificial sweeteners in it – but in the same way a nicotine patch has less nicotine than a cigarette, it has less of the artificial sweetener than a full bottle of soda – right?

    – And carbonated water, like Perrier or Pellegrino, has that same satisfying fizzy pop when it’s opened and same bubbly sensation on my tongue, right?

    – So why not pop a couple pieces of diet gum and drink a soda water whenever I craved my Diet Dr. Pepper?

    And that’s exactly what I did. And it worked! Within 2 weeks, I was completely “Diet Dr. Pepper free”, and I haven’t touched that liquid chemical addiction in five years. Since that time, I’ve switched from the artificially sweetened gum to a brand called “Spry”, which is flavored with more natural xylitol and stevia.

    Most solutions talk about tapering off because of caffeine.  This recognizes the need for taste and that aspartame and other chemicals may be addictive, and need to be reduced gradually.  The gum would also keep your mouth going so the need to put something in it would be addressed.  It doesn’t address the caffeine but it is also true (I believe) that the chewing of gum does help at least temporarily to stimulate blood flow to the head and keep you more alert.

    What is so addictive?

    Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

    Another comment, same site as previous.  It may say something that there were pages and pages of posts to the original comment/inquiry.

    I am completely addicted to caffiene free diet coke.

    That’s right – caffiene free diet.

    I gave up caffiene many years ago.  At the time, the withdrawal headache lasted three weeks…not the 3 to 5 days they tell you it will.  It was horrible and when I came out on the other side of that headache, I decided to eliminate most caffiene from my diet altogether so I would never have to go through it again.

    So years later, and I only drink caffiene free diet beverages.  I bring this up because I am still addicted.  There has to be something else in soda that is addictive.  Because I am not getting sugar, calories or a caffiene buzz from my favorite soft drink and yet I still cannot live without it.

    What is so addictive?

    Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

    Wow.   Found the following post on another site:

    I’ll be the first to admit….I am a diet coke-aholic…..can’t (trying)  break the habit.  I quit smoking …. no real big problems.  This stuff…OMGosh.

    I have done a little research to find out what is in that stuff to cause me to be so addicted….I still can’t find my answer. I can have a cup or so of coffee in the morning..and if I don’t have my Diet Coke by 10ish….I am freaking out.  The headache starts, I can literally feel the difference in my body. I guess this is what’s it like for smokers….shrug…

    Now, I do drink water along with my DC so can you imagine how much I run to the bathroom?  I am working on cutting back but there are those days where I just have to have one more.  I drink about 32-48 oz a day of DC…and that’s not nearly what it used to be.  Makes you wanna gag huh?

    I have also tried to find some answers, online, and not been terribly successful.   However, I think I may have been looking in the wrong place, and am hopeful for this time.

    Others compare to a drinking problem — drinking early in the morning, late at night, ….

    Again, I am so happy to see that others are also convinced of addictive ingrediehts besides caffeine.

    The bad thing is that it’s not just the caffeine in diet sodas which are addictive.  It’s also the aspartame. Even if I down a pot of coffee in the morning, I still have to have at least a little diet soda or I’ll get a headache.

    However, there still seems to be a general consensus that at least  it is not as bad as smoking and drinking alcohol.

    I am completely addicted to caffiene free diet coke.

    That’s right – caffiene free diet.

    I gave up caffiene many years ago.  At the time, the withdrawal headache lasted three weeks…not the 3 to 5 days they tell you it will.  It was horrible and when I came out on the other side of that headache, I decided to eliminate most caffiene from my diet altogether so I would never have to go through it again.

    So years later, and I only drink caffiene free diet beverages.  I bring this up because I am still addicted.  There has to be something else in soda that is addictive.  Because I am not getting sugar, calories or a caffiene buzz from my favorite soft drink and yet I still cannot live without it.

    Diet Soda Addiction – it’s real

    Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

    And I thought maybe I was the only one!  (not really)

    Google “soda addiction” and you come up with pages and pages!

    I’ve been convinced there is something else in diet soda besides caffeine that can be habit forming. Because if it were just caffeine, then coffee or tea ought to do nearly as well, but they don’t (although I do consume and enjoy coffee in the morning.)

    Artificial sweetener?  The carbonation?  Some other ingredient?

    The first article I read suggests that it is likely caffeine, artificial sweeteners or sodium.

    The Real Culprits of a Diet Soda Addiction: Sugar-Free Drinks Contain Habit-Forming Ingredients

    There is not a good explanation for the artificial sweeteners, however. Although the statement is made:

    Although the FDA claims that a person can safely consume 50 milligrams of the artificial sweetener aspartame per 2.2 pounds of body weight (which translates to about 18 cans of diet soda for a 150-pound individual), artificial sweeteners can be addictive and detrimental to health

    just what is addicting is not specified other than that it “satisfies sugar cravings.”
    Sodium….doesn’t seem right.
    And the suggestions “overcoming a diet soda addiction” are rather simplistic — an unsurprising list of “healthy alternatives.”
    Search onward for answers!