Aspartame, the commonly used artificial sweetener found in countless food and beverage products, has been linked to significant mental health impacts, including anxiety. Many of us have grown up with it being part of our diets, but recent research has connected its consumption to mental health issues.
Our casual choice to enjoy sugar-free drinks or low-calorie alternative snacks could be having unforeseen consequences on our well-being. Read on as we dive deep into the scientific results that lead us here and look at what it could mean for anyone consuming aspartame regularly.
Aspartame was approved in 1981 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and today, nearly 5,000 metric tons are produced each year. However, mounting evidence shows that aspartame becomes aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol, all of which can have potent effects on the central nervous system.
The new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences involved providing mice with drinking water containing aspartame at approximately 15% of the FDA-approved maximum daily human intake. This was the equivalent of drinking a six to eight-ounce can of diet soda daily for humans.
The mice were analyzed, and anxiety-like behavior was observed.
“It was such a robust anxiety-like trait that I don’t think any of us were anticipating we would see,” said doctoral candidate Sara Jones. “It was completely unexpected. Usually, you see subtle changes.”
This adds to mounting evidence that consuming the popular sweetener may be harmful to health. If you suffer from anxiety, it may be helpful to steer clear of products sweetened with aspartame.
Researchers plan to continue their work focusing on brain function and how aspartame affects memory. Future studies will try to identify the molecular mechanisms that influence the transmission of aspartame’s effect across generations.
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