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Sugar substitutes aren't always so healthy

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Date published: 9/10/2001

I would like to respond to the recent article by Jennifer Motl Shaw on sugar ["Don't be afraid of sugar," Aug. 19]. Although I applaud the writer's basic content, I feel compelled to respond to the references to the sugar substitute aspartame.

When ingested, aspartame breaks down into three amino acids as well as methanol, a poison known as wood alcohol. The continuing digestive process then converts this methanol into formaldehyde, which is grouped in the same class as cyanide and arsenic--deadly poisons. There are 92 documented symptoms of aspartame poisoning and the majority of them are neurological, as aspartame changes the dopamine level in the brain.

Dr. Russell Blaylock in his book, "Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills," states that the ingredients of aspartame stimulate the neurons of the brain to death, causing brain damage of varying degrees.

A few of the conditions that have been linked to aspartame ingestion include: multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, memory loss, hormonal imbalance, hearing loss, epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, hypoglycemia, AIDS dementia, brain lesions and neuro-endrocrinological problems.

Cathy Peterjohn, the registered dietitian mentioned in the article, may find it interesting to know that the Congressional Record says that ingesting aspartame makes you crave carbohydrates and will make you fat. Many people begin to lose weight when they stop ingesting aspartame, as the formaldehyde is stored in the fat cells, particularly in the hips and thighs.

I am impressed with The Free Lance-Star's growing interest toward a more natural approach to health care and look forward to more informed articles on this subject.

Barbara Bergquist, N.D. Fredericksburg Ms. Berquist is a local doctor of naturopathy.