The Sugar Wars - Is the truth being sugar coated?
I I heard it said that the first casualty of any war is the truth. More and more I've asked myself questions concerning food production, processing and distribution. The melamine contamination from China imports has everyone's stomach upset with worry about what we are eating and whether our government can protect us from future incidents of poisoning. You too must be asking yourself these questions.
Where do legitimate sale's tactics cross the line into outright lying and fraud?
And, at what point must a company examine its collective conscience of the board of directors and stop the company's sales force from making claims that improve the bottom line while exposing the end-user-consumer to unreasonable health risks?
As consumers, how can we know what is safe?
The sugar wars are a place to start examining food safety. The sugar wars have gone on long enough to have produced some useful consumer information. When two countries have industry's that make a healthy profit from selling competing products it gets hard to appreciate from all that they publish what is fact and what is fiction. In the sugar wars the products competing for your sweet tooth are sugar cane, aspartame and honey. These wars include stories about disease and birth defects along with tumors, obesity, diabetes and cancer.
First let's look at what is aspartame.
There is even an aspartame website (AW) where you can be told or sold I'm not sure, the facts in a way too positive for myself. Here is what they say about aspartame.
Aspartame is said to be "Great taste without the calories for today's healthy lifestyles." But is it? What is aspartame?
The AW recommends the Mayo Clinic website as a reliable source for the truth.
Searching the Mayo Clinic site for, what is an amino acid? I was then directed to several articles. The first was about phenylketonuria, a well-known birth defect. (PKU) That wasn't very reassuring but there was some basic information about PKU. The Mayo Clinic tells me that amino acids are building blocks for protein and that too much phenylalanine can cause a variety of health problems. The cause of PKU is a defective gene needed to process phenylalanine and without the ability to process this amino acid (phenylalanine) builds up when a person eats foods high in protein. Those foods are milk, cheese, nuts or meats. If mother and father have this PKU they will pass it on to junior.
What complications can arise from PKU if goes undiagnosed and treated?
If untreated PKU leads to irreversible brain damage and mental retardation. It can cause damage to the central nervous system in a child that shows up as irritability, restlessness and destructive behavior.
What everyone seems to agree with is the conclusion that Aspartame is not good for children who suffer from PKU. This neutral ground should lead mothers and fathers to conclude that the use of Aspartame for infants and children is prohibitive. A can of diet Pepsi ingredients label shows that the product contains phenylalanine and Aspartame but offers no warning about who should not drink this diet soda. I would hope no parent would give diet soda to an infant but what about other products?
Next time let's look at all those foods containing phenylalanine and Aspartame.
One of the moieties of the aspartame molecule is phenylalanine, which is unsafe for those born with phenylketonuria, a rare genetic condition. Phenylalanine is one of the nine essential amino acids and is commonly found in foods. Approximately 50% of aspartame (by mass) is broken down into phenylalanine, which is considered safe for everyone except sufferers of phenylketonuria. Because aspartame is metabolized and absorbed very quickly (unlike phenylalanine-containing proteins in foods), it is known that aspartame could spike blood plasma levels of phenylalanine. Scientists have reported that a rise in blood plasma phenylalanine is negligible in typical use of aspartame and their studies show no significant effects on neurotransmitter levels in the brain or changes in seizure thresholds. In addition, they say that proven adverse effects of phenylalanine on fetuses has only been seen when blood phenylalanine levels stay at high levels as opposed to occasionally being spiked to high levels.
An alternative sweetener, neotame, has been developed apparently to solve the phenylalanine problem said to be associated with aspartame."
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