Sweet as Saccharine

I think that most of us have seen the Facebook post going around called Sweet Killer. I don’t know how much of the post is hyped up, but we do know that the (very) common excitotoxin called Aspartame is bad for us.

Excitotoxins are a necessary part of brain function – they get your neurons firing faster so that you can learn and process information quickly. They occur naturally in the brain. However, when you get too many of them in one area, they can over-simulate your neurons, cause multiple unpleasant symptoms, and even excite your brain cells to death.

Symptoms of high excitotoxin levels include:

  • mental misfires
  • amplified pain
  • uncontrollable anxiety and irritability

Sound familiar?

Now, back in March of last year, I gave up Pepsi Max. I didn’t really notice a difference except, having replaced Pepsi Max with flavoured mineral water, I gained more and more weight. (Have any of you noticed how many calories/kilojoules are in what I thought to be a healthier drink?)

logoSo, I decided I needed to do something about the extra weight. I pledged 30kgs to the Share the Weight campaign. DietRitePassionfruit1.25LWithout even thinking about it, I replaced the mineral water with a soda drink called Diet Rite – labelled 5% juice, low joule, natural colours, natural flavours and no added sugar. Sounds okay, right?

Well, today, I woke up with a headache which has been accompanying me everywhere (and getting worse) for about 4 weeks (anyone notice the date that I published Bigger is NOT Better!?) I don’t know what made me think about the soda but I did…finally.

Much as I hate it, it looks like I’ll be drinking water from now on!

P.S. MSG is another common excitotoxin.


Related Articles

Exciting Toxins

According to a new study in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, monosodium glutamate (MSG) in food may exacerbate our symptoms.

It was only a small study of 37 people: it included women with FM and IBS. Participants first avoided MSG and other excitotoxins (see below,) such as aspartame. Thirty one of the participants said that their symptom load was reduced by more than 30%.


Next, participants were given either orange juice with added MSG or plain juice (as a placebo,) three days a week, for two weeks. Those getting the MSG had a significant return of symptoms when compared to those who didn’t.

MSG also appeared to decrease quality of life when it came to IBS symptoms, and symptoms such as watery stools and abdominal bloating were higher in the MSG group.

Researchers recommend further exploration of what could be a relatively simple and low-cost, non-drug method of alleviating symptoms.

Avoiding Excitotoxins

It can be tough to avoid excitotoxins in your diet. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in a wealth of products. It goes by the brand names Equal, NutraSweet, AminoSweet, etc. but should always be listed as aspartame in the ingredients list. Check your ‘diet’ products closely.

MSG is harder to identify and avoid, as it lurks in dozens of ingredients. The organization Truth in Labelling has a list of ingredients that do or may contain MSG: List of Ingredients Containing MSG.