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If you are an avid gum-chewer, then there is a good chance that you are a regular consumer of aspartame as well. It is nearly impossible nowadays to find a major chewing gum brand that doesn’t contain it. Although aspartame can be found in many different products, it poses the biggest problems when it is found in gum, mainly because of the fact that most chewing gum is marketed towards children, which aspartame can have a more significant effect on.

Side Effects of Aspartame

Aspartame is used in gum (and many other food products) as a sweetener. It is around 200 times sweeter than sugar, which makes it more economical for companies to use as they don’t have to use as much of it.

When aspartame is digested by the body, it gets broken down into three different substances: phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol.

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Methanol can be toxic in high amounts. Symptoms of methanol poisoning include weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, blindness and in extreme cases death.

Aspartic acid is commonly used to increase testosterone in people with low levels of it, and has been known to cause side effects such as elevated levels of aggression, acne, increased appetite and unwanted hair growth.

Phenylalanine is only harmful for people with the condition phenylketonuria (and other conditions that increase the production of phenylalanines). If people with these conditions consume too much phenylalanine they can develop conditions such as mental disabilities, high blood pressure, stroke and more serious conditions.

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Two studies published by Italian researchers have also linked aspartame consumption to cancer. This is due to the fact that, during tests on lab animals, researchers found that aspartame increased the risk of developing blood-related cancers such as leukemias and lymphomas in rats.

Aspartame Gum Alternatives

Although aspartame has been known to cause side effects regardless of what form it is in, some side effects reported were unique to the chewing gum they were found in.

Several people have reported having extreme headaches after chewing sugar-free gum that contained aspartame. Other studies have also confirmed that after chewing aspartame containing gum they had increased feelings of hunger.

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Thankfully, there are still several chewing gums out there that don’t have aspartame in them.

Xylitol gum is a great sugar-free alternative. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is naturally found in most plant material, including several fruits and vegetables.

It has been proven to provide several health benefits, including improved dental care (making it perfect for gum). It can even help prevent ear infections in children! Just make sure to keep it away from pets, as xylitol can be very harmful if consumed by animals.

You can purchase xylitol gum at your local health food store, or online. For more ingredients in gum that you need to look out for, click here.

Sources:

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/aspartame

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-653-phenylalanine.aspx?activeingredientid=653&activeingredientname=phenylalanine

http://www.methanol.org/Health-And-Safety/Safe-Handling/Methanol-Health-Effects.aspx

ias.net

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9439090

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2359769

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-996-xylitol.aspx?activeingredientid=996

Image source:

https://melonbloggers.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/gum.jpg

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