Yeah, yeah, I'm a writer. As such, I'm confined to my desk for hours at a time. Literally. And like most authors, I eat quite a few meals here, balancing on my exercise ball. Some are healthy...cucumber sticks. Spoonfuls of peanut butter. Salad. Admittedly, some aren't as good for me: Ice cream. Candy. Chips. Black coffee.
This time of year, though, cold drinks suit me far better than the steamy stuff. But I'm not a big soda drinker, so I reach for homemade lemonade or iced tea, sweetened the old-fashioned way because I don't like the aftertaste of sugar substitutes. Lucky for me, I get to choose, unlike dieters and diabetics.
About a week ago, I read an article about "ASPARTAME DISEASE." I know, right? I felt the same way when I read the headline: Say WHAT?
The question prompted me to remove my novelist's hat (a very jaunty Fedora-type thing) and replace it with my beat-up old reporter's cap. And then I cracked my knuckles and did some serious research....
The term Aspertame Disease was coined by doctor H.J. Roberts, who churned out a couple thousand pages that list the symptoms, side effects, and health consequences of ingesting aspartame, especially for prolonged periods of time.
According to Roberts, aspartame products are responsible for about 80% of all food additive-related complaints registered with the FDA. Headaches, dizziness, moodswings, vomiting and/or nausea, abdominal pain/cramps, alterations in vision, diarrhea, seizures/convulsions, memory loss, fatigue.... The list goes on and on. And on. As if that isn't bad enough, aspartame is also linked to some fibromyalgia symptoms, including (but not limited to) muscle spasms, shooting pains and numbness in the extremities, cramps, tinnitus, joint pain, sudden and/or unexplainable depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, and various cancers!
Okay, so according to the FDA, there isn't sufficient research to PROVE adverse health complications from aspartame. But they don't refute the POSSIBILITY that some of the above-reference symptoms COULD BE related to prolonged aspartame use, either. Meaning...even if I wasn't turned off by the icky aftertaste of those products, I'd reconsider adding them to the foods and drinks I consume. You know, the old 'err on the side of caution' philosophy.
But what if you're a diabetic, or have sensitivities to sugar products? What if these substitutes are IT for you?
Fortunately, a whole bunch of health specialists have weighed in on the subject, and they have plenty to say about sugar alternatives:
Substitute flavored seltzer water for diet sodas.
Use fresh fruit on your morning cereal instead of sugar substitutes.
Read the nutrition facts and ingredient labels on all food products and find tolerable, healthy things that work for you and your lifestyle.
I know, I know, DUH. But that's what the so-called experts say, so I had to include the suggestions.
So now it's up to you. I encourage you to do your own digging. Study everything you can get your sweet li'l hands on, so you can figure out what you can eat and drink -- and what you're not willing to swallow. If, after weighing the pros and cons, you decide to continue using sugar substitutes, more power to you. But at least you'll do so armed with accurate information and facts. Because as the sages say, forewarned is forearmed.
Now I'm off to pound out a couple more chapters in my soon-to-be-released novel. No doubt I'll nibble while I'm typing. Fudge, made with processed confectioners sugar, washed down with iced tea, sweetened with the granulated kind.
Hey, I know the risks. If the stuff makes me sick, or fat, or both, I'll have no one to blame but myself, right?
Happy reading, friends. And happy eating and drinking, too! When you get a minute, hop on over to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and say hey. Or visit me at http://www.loreelough.com. I'm usally home, because, well, deadlines, y'know?