Another negative effect of a widely used sweetener has been revealed.
People with diabetes, insulin resistance or trying to lose excess weight often turn to artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. However, there have been many negative reports, including recent research involving humans, which has shown that artificial sweeteners can disrupt gut flora and sugar metabolism.
Besides, a recent study has found a link between the widely used aspartame and anxiety, this time in mice, but the results are worrying according to experts.
Aspartame can cause anxiety
Aspartame is a widely consumed artificial sweetener found in many beverages and foods around the world, and is often found labeled as E951 on product packaging. Examples include sugar-free soft drinks, chewing gum, ice cream, candy, energy bars and salad dressings, and the list goes on. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in 1981. It is much sweeter than sugar, about 200 times sweeter, so much less is needed to achieve the desired sweet taste.
Another advantage of aspartame is that it is low in calories and does not raise insulin or blood sugar levels. On the other hand, it has been linked to a variety of health problems, including headaches, depression, increased appetite, high blood pressure and diabetes. Some of these hypotheses are not all firmly established, and research on the sweetener has produced mixed results.
A study by researchers at the University of Florida, published in the scientific journal PNAS, concluded that this popular sweetener may induce anxiety-like behavior in mice. The rodents in the study were given 15 per cent of the FDA’s recommended maximum daily amount for humans, adjusted for body weight.
After observing signs of anxiety on various behavioral tests, the mice were dissected and abnormalities were found in the amygdala, the center of the brain responsible for emotion regulation. The really surprising aspect of the study was that the latter changes were also detectable in the offspring of mice that had consumed aspartame.
The researchers found that anxiety-like behavior can also occur in people who consume smaller amounts of the sweetener daily for 6-12 weeks. However, further research in humans is needed to prove this.