Monday, December 01, 2008

Don't Fake It

by David G. Woolley

Editor's note: This post continues a Word of Wisdom look at the food we eat. With the holiday season upon us, what better time for a gut check? Today its artificial sweeteners.

She was a soccer mom and a dental hygienist. For the sake of privacy let's call her Sandy. An exercise nut. She maintained a vigorous weekly routine. Three days at the gym with her husband, Brad. On the off days she biked, walked or jogged. She had four handsome sons. All athletic. Physical activity was part of their lives so it was a shock to everyone when Brad got a call from Sandy's dental office. Her hands were numb. She couldn't feel her left arm. And when she went to take a break she walked into a wall. She was losing motor control quickly and could Brad come over to the office ASAP?

Sandy took some vacation time to deal with the symptoms. She saw a few doctors and took a battery of tests. A general practitioner. A neurologist. A psychiatrist. An internist. The tests were negative. No one knew what caused her symptoms. The numbness. The pain in her muscles. The inability to control her fingers. The tripping over curbs. The poor mobility. The falling down. The frustration. Some of the symptoms indicated multiple sclerosis (MS) and none of the doctors wanted to scare her with a prognosis of early stage Parkinson's Disease. They settled on a diagnosis of inconclusive and asked her to consider spending $60,000 plus for a month of testing in a neurosurgeon's office. That's when they called and asked me what I thought.

I said, "So Sandy, what's your diet like?"

She said, "The usual. You know, what everyone eats. Normal food. We eat out of a can a lot."

Turns out the usual included a lot of processed foods and junk food. Not a lot of fresh fruits or vegetables. And then there was this culprit:

I said, "Do you drink any diet sodas?"

She said, "I love Diet Coke." She had one nearly every day.

Sandy's symptoms were like millions of others who consume artificial sweeteners. They go after the nervous system. Destroy the myelin sheath around the neurons, essentially rendering them useless. Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel, Spoonfuls, DiabetiSweet). Saccharin (Sweet'N Low, SugarTwin). Acesulfame K (Sunett, Sweet One). Sucralose (Splenda). They've been accused of carcinogenic bad deeds, but the link to cancer is inconclusive (there's that word again).

What isn't so inconclusive is their association with MS-like symptoms, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's Disease, ADHD, Depression, and the list of neurologic disorders grows longer every year. Millions are affected, but little is done because the law requires food additives be physiologically inert. Once artificial sweeteners got the coveted inert status, the FDA relinquished oversight. They made the GRAS list (generally regarded as safe) and are now considered by government authorities as harmless as flour, raisins or cinnamon. The history of FDA approval of aspartame is an education in food additive law. Its also a wake up call to carefully monitor the processed foods you eat.

I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist. It makes great fiction and terrific movies but often bad science. The data is usually inconclusive (once again). Conspiracies are harder to nail down in real life. Aren't people generally concerned about the health and welfare of others over, say, profit? Likely not when there's piles of money at stake. Take a look at this Fox News report on FDA approval of aspartame and see if you don't agree that some food additives, if not most, qualify as a consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days (Doctrine & Covenants 89:4):

I said, "So Sandy. Why don't you let me take you and Brad to the grocery store. A few changes to your diet and we can get this under control."

The next day I got a call. Sandy decided to go with the neurosurgeon's office. I couldn't blame her. She was scared. Things weren't getting better.

After thirty days and a $60,000.00 medical tab I got another call. The doctors still didn't have a diagnosis and no recommendations for treatment. The symptoms were getting worse. They were ready for a trip to the grocery store.

We spent a hundred dollars and then went to their home and cooked up all sorts of recipes. She had to re-learn how to prepare meals without all those processed foods. I threw out her supply of Diet Coke and Sandy promised to stay away from it.

Within one week the numbness was gone. In two weeks her balance and motor control returned. The headaches disappeared. The fatigue gone. The pain was out of her life. She went back to work and five years later, she's still happy, healthy and symptom free. She's also a much healthier eater. Not too many desserts. Few processed foods. No Diet anything.

Aspartame is the most widely used artificial sweetener. It’s that chain of elements floating in the glass featured in the photo above. A synthetic compound made up of Phenylalanine and Aspartic Acid held in a chemical bond by Methanol (its that lower left hand branch of the chemical chain in the photo), which breaks down into Formic Acid, Formaldehyde and Diketopiperazine (DKP). It's the DKP that’s associated with brain tumors.

Aspartame breaks down more quickly with heat so the risk is higher in hot drinks like hot chocolate or in soda that has likely been out in the sun at some point in its journey to your fridge, the vending machine or the convenience store cooler. If you've ever tasted a diet drink that didn't taste sweet the aspartame has broken down into one of these three neurotoxins (nerve poisons).

Aspartame toxicity produces all sorts of nasty symptoms like migraines, depression, seizures, attention deficit disorder, angry rages, joint pain, muscle spasm, even obesity by signaling to your brain to expect carbohydrates that never reach the stomach. So what does your body do? It sounds the hunger alarm and you experience some pretty powerful food cravings. Its hard to resist over-eating when you think you're responding to a natural, God-given urge to eat. In the case of aspartame there's nothing God-given. Its all fake. Aspartame also mimics diseases like MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson's Disease, and fibromyalgia. Migraines may appear quickly in some people, while in others there may be no symptoms for some time. Biochemical individuality plays a role in how quickly and severely you're affected.

If you or someone you care about has any of these symptoms, get rid of aspartame in their diet. I did that for my parents. I wish I'd done it much sooner. My dear sweet mother is a Parkinson's Disease sufferer or at least the symptoms mimic the disease. The doctors aren't certain. They treat her with medication prescribed for Parkinson's Disease. Some days she can hardly shuffle along. The disease cripples and twists her body. The frustration is palpable. The futility terrible. The hopelessness almost unbearable.

I wonder if she could have avoided the loss of mobility, the numbness, or the on again off again paralysis that twists her left foot under and pulls her head down if we'd only been more proactive many years ago. In Sandy's case we removed the cause and reversed the damage before it was permanent. My mother wasn't so lucky. The doctors tell us there's no treatment. The tests remain inconclusive. Sound familiar?

If I appear somewhat passionate about your health, maybe even a little over the top, I'm not. Listening to the council of the Lord when he advises us to avoid a lot of the unhealthy additives in processed foods and enjoy the fruit of the vine in order to enjoy good health just makes sense. There's no doubt Satan wants to limit your free agency. That's His plan. Its been that way since before the foundation of the world. And what could be more limiting to your free agency than loss of nervous system control? There's nothing inconclusive about that.

May your holiday eating be filled with healthy foods. And if you're considering having a little something sweet, which I don’t recommend unless its a Christmas orange, at least do the smart thing.

Don't fake it!

Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website.


Aaron and Stephanie Shumway (and family) said...

wow, dave you're up late! thanks for this post- while it's discouraging for a diabetic to read, it's a necessary change we all need to make to our diets. On another note, after a lot of rain this week our garden is flourishing and I can't wait to have fresh healthy food I grew myself! Already we have three green beans :o) Happy Thanksgiving!

Sandra said...

For years I suffered from debilitating migrains. I didn't think much about their cause because my mother had them, my sisters all had them- all the women in my family suffered from them. I have identified some triggers, mostly perservatives in scented products, and can avoid both the triggers and the headaches. However, one of my boys has started having headaches. I had not thought about asparteme in conjunction with them until reading this. I don't do a lot of sweets and no soda at all. However, he is 17 and I can't control what he eats other places. We are going to do a bit of investigation of his food choices now.

I also suffer from Rhematoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondilitis. But they don't control me since I made the connection of food choices and pain. I just wish I had made the connection about 4 years ago.

I just checked the ingredients on some of the food in my pantry. I am not happy. Some of the things I thought I was making healthy choices on? Not so good- no aspartame but High Fructose Corn syrup. Time to revamp the grocery choices. Maybe I could talk you into some recipes?

Rebecca Talley said...

We don't consume soda. I've never liked it much. I'll have to check my food more carefully. I'd much prefer fresh fruits and vegies all the time, but sometimes that's hard to come by in my area.

Thanks for the post--ever thought of writing a book?

Wight Family said...

I can't tell you how much better I feel when I don't have a carbonated beverage most days!! In fact I went completely off them this summer and started eating better, and I believe pretty darned firmly that is why I am pregnant with our hard to conceive #2. I wish my hubby'd believe me and cut out the D.P.!! I'll send him this way to read your post!

Thanks for putting the word out there about this poison. As if it isn't enough that the Lord has warned us about it...

Sandra said...

Cute snowman.

Francie Jenson said...

Hey Dave,
Did you see the caffeine article in Dec's Ensign? Between your post and that article I'm feeling pretty glad I never did develop a taste for diet coke!

I've always preferred my sugar to be the real thing ... :)

Anonymous said...

Check this out.

David G. Woolley said...

Thanks Anon:

I've read that as well as the website for the Centers For Disease Control and the American Cancer Society which all claim that any link to cancer remains inconclusive and there are no links in any studies to cancer or MS-like symptoms.

I have also read a number of medical journal studies which point out that the relationship between these sweetners and is not cuasal, meaning there is no direct relationship, though there have been anectodal situations where reducing intake of these sugars has helped patients, but nothing statistically identifiable in trials.

My hunch, based on my reserach and training in medical physiology and my reserach assistantship at the University of Iowa neurophysiology labs is that both sides of the argument are right. These artifical sugars do not directly cause any of these symptoms, but yet these symptoms persist. My assumption, and it is only assumption based on knowing people who have suffered and then found relief after ending the use of these products, is that these substances slowly degrade the protective sheath around nervous tissues and, depending on which tissues are degraded, the nervous system begins to dysfunction and the symptoms are varied in different people since different nervous tissue groups in the brain, organs and extremites of the skin are at risk.

I also hypothesize that removing these substances from the diet allows the sheat to repair itself and some if not all the symptoms can, in some cases, be reversed.

I may be wrong, but my view of things based on my study, training and reading pushes me toward not using these substances in any form. I may be wrong, but I seem to be in healthy company, regardless if some may think this is some sort of internet scam.

I didn't get any of my information from the internet, but rather from study and from personal anecdotal experiences.

All the best...

Cami said...

Yes. But how do you convince your 80 year old mother of this? She's a Diet Coke junkie, a diabetic, on dialysis and has a number of other health issues. She thinks we are trying to "rob" her of enjoying her last years. We just want to keep her around for a while longer. I'm quite sure she has the beginnings of Parkinsons Disease, but she blames it on the dialysis. It's very dis-heartening. I don't want her to die on my watch....but I am ever fearful.

Cami said...
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