09 August 2015

The dangers of aspartame; forgo the diet soda

The August 2015 issue of PreventionMagazine had a short piece on skipping diet soda. They mention – rightly so – that the “fake sugar” increases the risk of headaches and diabetes. The piece points out that aspartame and sucralose overwhelm our taste buds and actually leave us wanting more sweets and more saltier foods, which of course add to more weight.

Aspartame caused me such grief about 15 years ago. There are almost 100 known side effects of this nasty substance. It affects the eyes, ears, chest, skin and allergies.  Other affects include neurological, psychological, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and metabolical systems. It also mimics many other diseases. 

When I had issues with it, I was the overnight waitress at a 24/7 restaurant. My twins were still young but toddling around. I used to drive diet coke by the liter bottle. I started having problems with my eyes but the eye doctor said everything was fine and in fact my prescription had changed much. I had a ringing in my ears. I had migranes that were so intense. I was so tired all the time but I just figured it was because I was working all night and coming home to very active twins. I started forgetting things but thought it was just because I had so much on my mind. I was irritable and depressed. My heart always beat a mile a minute (palapitations) and I was often short of breath, but I thought that was because I had put on a few pounds. I had a pain in the area of my left ovary. My hair was falling out. My teeth even hurt but the dentist said everything was fine although, he pointed out, I might have developed sinus issues. 

No one had any answers. Then one night some rowdy high school kids were jumping around between tables and I was carrying back a coffee pot. Some kid jumped up right in front of me and the hot burning coffee went all over my face and the left side of my chest. I did not feel a thing. I did not even realize it got on me until my manager (who finally came out to kick out the kid) said something. 

My family doctor ran every test you could think of and still had no idea what was wrong. Finally he diagnosed me with Bell’s Palsy. Basically that meant he had no clue what was going on or why it happened. The symptoms, assuming it was Bell’s Palsy, would go away on their own but he did warn me that they could come back at any time too. 

A little while later my mom called saying she was watching some health report on the news about the dangers of aspartame. She said I had a lot of those symptoms. I read up on and promptly threw out the just opened two-liter bottle of Diet Coke in the fridge. ALL my symptoms went away. 

To confirm that it really was the Diet Coke and not Bell’s Palsy (remember it goes away and comes back with no rhyme or reason), I had a glass one day and the headache came on so fast. My eyes even hurt. That was with just a couple sips. 

Today anything that says “diet” is a no-no for me. It does not matter if it is soda or gum or anything else, I simply cannot have aspartame without some of the side effects returning. 

My advice: read the labels first and avoid aspartame.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
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