by Tiffany Windsor
Did you know that Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by Mr. James M. Schlatter, an American chemist and researcher whose discovery of the sweetness of Aspartame (in 1965) led to the development of G.D. Searle & Co.'s most famous product, NutraSweet®. Company folklore tells the tale of how Schlatter licked his finger to turn a book's page and tasted a sweet flavor, which the company decided to research. The resulting sugar substitute—180 to 200 times sweeter than sucrose—became one of the world's most widely used sweeteners under the name NutraSweet®. (1) It was initially approved for use in food products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981.
I remember first hearing about Aspartame from my sisters in the 1980’s. They had mentioned that they finally connected the dots from repeated headaches to their consumption of Aspartame. I thought it was interesting at the time and it wasn’t until years later that I experienced the same symptoms and after putting two and two together, I realized that I would get headaches after consuming Equal, which is Aspartame. I immediately erased it from my diet and my headaches have never returned.
Asparatame came up in conversation for me again recently when a family member experienced yet another massive migraine. I asked her to think back to what she had been consuming in the days before because I sensed something in her diet had to be triggering her migraines. Thinking through what she had been eating, she couldn’t pinpoint anything and it wasn’t until a week later when I received a text stating that she just realized that the Fresca soft drinks that she was consuming contained Aspartame. She had never read the label.
I’m a label fanatic. I like to know what I am consuming and if I read an ingredient that I don’t know, I research it. As you can research for yourself, there are many sites with blogs that are dedicated to Aspartame where you will read that “many consumers report headaches, dizziness, rashes, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and digestive problems after ingesting artificial sweeteners.”
So the next time you reach for NutraSweet® and Equal®, diet soda, sugar-free ice cream, reduced-calorie fruit juice, gum, yogurt, sugarless candies and more, be sure to read the label and be alert to how your body reacts to consuming artificial sweeteners.