Sweetners in Diet Drinks

The difference in diet drinks and regular drinks is the sweetner.  Non-diet sodas use sugar a sweetner.  With the sugar comes carbohydrates and calories.  Users of diet sodas usually are trying to avoid either the carbohydrates or the calories and opt for the diet drink. 

Some diet drink consumers simply like the taste better.  That is, having become accustomed to diet drinks, they often claim that regular sodas taste like syrup to them.

Currently, diet sodas in the United States are using asparatame and splenda as sweetners.  Stevia, a sweetner new to American markets, may be used in the future. Asparatame is manufactured by the Monsanto company. Aspartame is the sweetner that forms the basis of NutraSweet and Equal. It also sweetens Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, and other drinks. It is used to sweeten a great number and variety of foods.

Some critics claim that aspartame can cause a number of health problems.  They say that there is a disease called, “The Aspartame Disease,” with a number of symptoms, including fibromyalgia, spasms, shooting pains, numbness in the legs, cramps, vertigo, dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, joint pain, depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, and/or memory loss.

There is actually some evidence that aspartame could cause health problems for people, but, the dose would probably be so high that it is unlikely people could get sick from it. The evidence is as follows:

Methanol, formaldehyde, and formate are three byproducts of aspartame and also exist in fruit juices but not in toxic levels. But, the methanol in fruit juices cannot be absorbed into the body whereas in aspartame can be absorbed. Also, methanol in aspartame lacks ethanol which acts as a protectant while in fruit juices.

Aspartame consumption can lead to increased levels of blood methanol or formaldehyde. A study on rats in 1998, warns “that aspartame consumption may constitute a hazard.” However, a 2002 Japanese study on rats says that, “Aspartame at abuse doses is harmless to humans.”