In a previous report I pointed out some of the scientific literature evidence of the harmful effects of aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), saccharin, and sucralose (Splenda). Now let’s take a look at the new and improved aspartame called Neotame,[i] and then a quick look at the others: acesulfame-K, cyclamate and alitame.
Neotame (the new aspartame) is not aspartame
It is interesting that an online scientific literature search at www.pubmed.com for “artificial sweeteners” results in 222,587 search results.
Just because aspartame has been shown to worsen depression,[ii] disrupt gut microbiome,[iii] cause glucose intolerance,[iv] contribute to weight gain,[v] [vi] be neurotoxic[vii] and even promote brain cancer,[viii] contribute to autoimmune thyroiditis,[ix] and lead to formaldehyde bio-accumulation in rats,[x] does not mean that neotame will have the same adverse effects on health. Moreover, aspartame is unstable if heated too long so it is not good to use in baking or cooking and it decomposes when stored in liquids. Does neotame have similar unwanted properties?
Let’s look at Neotame more closely and see what precautions we should be aware of if any.
Neotame is known to be approximately 13,000 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and 30-40 times sweeter than aspartame.[xi] Neotame was developed in order to eliminate the PKU (phenylketonuria) warning that aspartame carries, by adding 3,3-dimethylbutyraldehyde to aspartame to reduce phenylalanine production in the body. 3-di-methylbutyl, which can be found on the EPA's list of most hazardous chemicals.
It is now used in more than 1,100 food products by approximately 150 million people worldwide.[xii]
Neotame and the other artificial sweeteners taste great. There is still some concern that pre-approval safety studies were not all convincing. Apparently, the makers of Neotame only conducted a few one-day studies (which caused some adverse reactions)—but no long-term human safety studies were done. To date there are no independent double-blind scientific studies on toxicity in humans or animals to show neotame is safe.
Some even argue that all those industry-funded studies now have been shown to have very poor study design, be deceptive, and based on fraudulent research.
Nevertheless, neotame is completely eliminated so it does not accumulate in your body. Methanol is a metabolite of neotame, but apparently in exceedingly small amounts.
Connection to the FDA?
It is also concerning that there is a connection between this private company that produces Neotame and the FDS (Food and Drug Administration), our government food safety oversight agency: 35 people have/had FDA positions and also have worked for Monsanto.[xiii] Maybe that’s just all coincidence and not causal? It would help explain why Neotame was so quickly approved as a food by the FDA even though it is the sone of Aspartame.
I am sure neotame is found in those tasty foods I eat and I don’t even realize it. Take a look at all the sweet foods powered by neotame here: https://www.neotame.com/.
Certainly, some people may be vulnerable to an adverse effect of neotame, but I don’t find such reports in the scientific literature. That’s why I don’t agree with the conclusions of some who state that neotame is “an even deadlier neurotoxin, immunotoxin and excitotoxin than aspartame.” They write, “Neotame is aspartame plus 3-di-methylbutyl, which can be found on the EPA's list of most hazardous chemicals. The aspartame formula is comprised of Phenylalanine [50%], which caused seizures in lab animals and Aspartic Acid [40%], which caused "holes in the brains" of lab animals -- bonded by Methyl Alcohol, or Methanol [10%] which is capable of causing blindness, liver damage and death.”[xiv] The same author also states, “Due to corporate greed, it is becoming quite apparent that the entire food supply is becoming one toxic wasteland that none of us can rely on.”
Acesulfame-K, Cyclamate and Alitame
Acesulfame-k is approximately 120 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and dissolves well in water. It is heat stable so it can be used well in cooking and baking.[xv] Because it can have a bitter aftertaste, it is usually blended with other sweeteners (such as sucralose or aspartame) so as to mask it. Weirdly, Acesulfame—k is not naturally metabolized in our body. The FDA approved it In 2003 as a general all-purpose sweetener.
Cyclamate, first discovered in 1937, is 30 times sweeter than sucrose. It was a popular low-calorie sweetener in the U.S. before 1970. Cyclamate has very low toxicity but its metabolite by human intestinal bacteria is cyclohexylamine, which has greater toxicity.[xvi] Hopefully all cyclamate is not metabolized to cyclohexylamine. A study[xvii] in 2004 revealed that relatively few humans even metabolize cyclamate to cyclohexylamine greater than 2%, and the ones that do (only 14 of 261 study volunteers), metabolism rates ranged from 21% to 60%.
Alitame is 200 times greater than table sugar. It is rapidly metabolized and excreted.
The is no evidence that alitame is carcinogenic.
Still, I don’t see why anyone would want to consume artificial sweeteners when there are better sweeteners available (i.e. stevia, etc.)
To healthy sweeteners and long-term health,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
[ii] Walton RG, Hudak R, Green-Waite RJ. Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients from a vulnerable population. Biol Psychiatry. 1993 Jul 1-15;34(1-2):13-7. PubMed PMID: 8373935. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8373935
[iii] Nettleton JE, Reimer RA, Shearer J. Reshaping the gut microbiota: Impact of low calorie sweeteners and the link to insulin resistance? Physiol Behav. 2016 Oct 1;164(Pt B):488-493. Review. PubMed PMID: 27090230. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27090230
[v] Yang Q. Gain weight by "going diet?" Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010 Jun;83(2):101-8. Review. PubMed PMID: 20589192. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20589192
[vi] Feijó FM, Ballard CR, Foletto KC, Batista BAM, Neves AM, Ribeiro MFM, Bertoluci MC. Saccharin and aspartame, compared with sucrose, induce greater weight gain in adult Wistar rats, at similar total caloric intake levels. Appetite. 2013 Jan;60(1):203-207. PubMed PMID: 23088901. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23088901
[vii] Rycerz K, Jaworska-Adamu JE. Effects of aspartame metabolites on astrocytes and neurons. Folia Neuropathol. 2013;51(1):10-7. PMID: 23553132. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23553132
[ix] Sachmechi I, Khalid A, Awan SI, Malik ZR, Sharifzadeh M. Autoimmune Thyroiditis with Hypothyroidism Induced by Sugar Substitutes. Cureus. 2018 Sep 7;10(9):e3268. PubMed PMID: 30430057. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30430057
[x] Trocho C, Pardo R, Rafecas I, Virgili J, Remesar X, Fernández-López JA, Alemany M. Formaldehyde derived from dietary aspartame binds to tissue components in vivo. Life Sci. 1998;63(5):337-49. PubMed PMID: 9714421. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9714421
[xv] Nabors LO. Sweet choices: sugar replacements for foods and beverages. Food Technol. 2002;56:28–32.
[xvi] Bopp BA, Sonders RC, Kesterson JW. Toxicological aspects of cyclamate and cyclohexylamine. Crit Rev Toxicol. 1986;16:213–306. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2420530
[xvii] Renwick AG, Thompson JP, Shaughnessy M, Walter EJ. The metabolism of cyclamate to cyclohexylamine in humans during long-term administration. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2004;196:367–80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15094307