Of the many artificial sweeteners out there, such as aspartame, sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sugar Twin and Sweet'N Low) and neotame (NutraSweet), aspartame is one of the most common.
How common? Aspartame is an ingredient in more than six thousand different processed foods!
You name it, and it probably has aspartame in it. From chewing gum to desserts, yogurts to vitamins, from toothpaste to salad dressings and medicines to diet drinks, aspartame is absolutely everywhere!
With artificial sweeteners, as with most dementogens, it is the cumulative effect and high amounts that cause dementia and Alzheimer's. This holds true for all artificial sweeteners.
Aspartame, in particular, has been found to cause:
- cognitive impairment
- irritable mood
- learning impairment
- memory issues
- sleep impairment
Remember back in high school science class when it was time to dissect a frog? The liquid those frogs are preserved in is called formaldehyde. When aspartame is consumed, it breaks down into aspartic acid, phenylalanine, methanol, and formaldehyde in your body and brain.
There is absolutely nothing good about formaldehyde being in your brain cells! Formaldehyde can kill cells in your tissues and your brain, converting to formic acid, which is highly toxic.
Cognitive symptoms you certainly don't want, such as "deficits in complex attention, inefficient information processing, reduced executive functioning, slower processing speed, and long-term memory loss," are all a result of consuming aspartame.
Aspartame is poisonous to the brain, but its negative impact is multiplied when consumed with carbohydrates.
What's already bad becomes even worse when insulin levels spike—and they will spike when you eat high-sugar and high-carb foods, such as doughnuts, cereal, pancakes with syrup, bread, white rice, most desserts, pasta and countless other foods!
We have for years been sold the idea that "sugar-free" is a good thing. When artificial sweeteners are used, rest assured that they more than eclipse any health benefits from the lack of sugar.
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
"For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Gal. 6:7-8).
One of the challenges with the brain is relying on sugar (glucose) for energy, and unlike other cells in your body, your "brain cells cannot convert fats or proteins into glucose, so they depend on daily glucose for optimal functioning and survival." Your brain needs energy, just not in the artificial form.
There is more than enough glucose in what you eat or drink daily for your brain to function. It's not like you need to start taking in sugar to feed the brain. There is plenty of glucose in carbohydrates and starches on hand to go around.
Here are a few healthier, natural sweeteners that do not trigger Alzheimer's or dementia:
- monk fruit
- yacon syrup
For Your Ongoing Health
If you cannot avoid artificial sweeteners, be they aspartame, sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sugar Twin and Sweet'N Low) or neotame (NutraSweet), the next best thing is to reduce your intake. Yes, that will probably be the end of drinking virtually all sugar-free soft drinks and eating certain foods, but you no doubt knew they weren't healthy for you anyway.
Though artificial sweeteners are a dementogen, they are simply one of the many dementogens out there that accumulatively cause Alzheimer's and dementia. What is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from Alzheimer's and dementia regarding sugar and artificial sweeteners?
There are two answers.
1. Avoid artificial sweeteners and reduce or avoid sugar.
2. Know how sugar harms the brain.
When you know how sugar harms your brain, you are far more likely to make healthier decisions. This knowledge will help you avoid Alzheimer's and dementia because this knowledge will usually stick with you for the rest of your life!
Sugar and your brain work like this:
1. Sugar (be it from a carbohydrate, fruit sugar, starch or other) converts to glucose in your bloodstream.
2. Excessive glucose attaches to proteins, forming advanced glycation end products, obstructing their work and aging your brain and body.
3. Your body produces insulin to lower the glucose levels.
4. Your body produces insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) to break down the insulin so it does not lower your sugar levels too low.
This happens all the time in real life, especially with afternoon snacks at a coffee shop, a meal at a fast-food restaurant, or dessert after a hearty dinner. Substantial insulin spikes are required to lower the sugars in most foods/drinks consumed in the standard American diet. People who consume meals, snacks, drinks and late-night munchies may have five or six insulin spikes a day or more.
Now, the body is a wonderful creation, and every time there is an insulin spike, the multitalented IDE (insulin-degrading enzyme) comes in and balances everything out. So you might be thinking, "What's the problem?"
It's this little-known fact: the IDE in your body must choose between (1) breaking down insulin in your blood, and (2) breaking down amyloid plaques in your brain.10 Your amazing IDE cannot do both. It either breaks down the insulin your body created to handle what you ate/drank, or it breaks down the amyloid plaques that build up in your brain—the very plaques that are ever-present in the brains of people living with Alzheimer's.
Here is another important fact about IDE that you must know: it will always break down insulin first. Is it a good idea to keep your IDE busy lowering insulin levels with an artificially sweetened beverage? I don't think so. Drink a glass of water. Or green tea. Or coffee. Let your IDE stick to the most important things, such as breaking down those amyloid plaques!
For more information about "Dr. Colbert's Healthy Brain Zone," visit DrColbertBooks.com.
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Don Colbert, MD, has been a board-certified family practice doctor for over twenty-five years in Orlando, Florida, and most recently in Dallas, Texas. He is also board-certified in antiaging medicine through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and has received extensive training in nutritional and preventive medicine. He is the author of three New York Times best-selling books: "Dr. Colbert's Keto Zone Diet," "The Seven Pillars of Health" and "Dr. Colbert's 'I Can Do This' Diet," along with best sellers "Toxic Relief," the Bible Cure series, "Living in Divine Health" and "Stress Less." He has sold more than 10 million books and treated more than 50,000 patients in his years of practicing medicine.
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