Aspartame is an artificial sweetener made from a combination of two amino acids, namely aspartic acid and phenylalanine. This substance is commonly used to replace the role of sugar in food and drinks. Aspartame has a sweet taste up to 200 times compared to ordinary sugar, but has the same number of calories.
Although much sweeter than sugar, they both have a calorie content of four calories per gram. The sweet taste that is far above sugar makes us only need to consume it in small amounts. With the same calorie content as sugar, but the use of a little, automatically the number of calories that enter the body will be less.
Is this safe artificial sweetener?
When consuming aspartame, the body’s metabolic processes will break it down into methanol. That process also occurs in your body when consuming fruit, juice, fermented drinks, and several other vegetables, so that the metabolic process of aspartame is not a new process for the body. Although it is an artificial sweetener, the use of this substance has been approved by the United States Food and Drugs Association (FDA) as a safe sweetener for consumption since 1981.
In line with the FDA, BPOM also allows the use of aspartame as an artificial sweetener as long as it takes into account the restriction of the amount of intake per day. Even if it is permitted and safe, it does not mean its use does not bring controversy about the adverse effects that may accompany.
According to the Diabetes Self-Management website , the use of aspartame has several negative effects on health. Some of them are methanol poisoning. Methanol poisoning is characterized by symptoms of headache, vertigo , buzzing ears, and weakness. Other adverse effects that may arise are brain damage to cancer . However, there has been no official claim that the artificial sweetener is harmful to the body.
So far, aspartame is the most tested substance. Based on test results, this substance can be consumed by almost everyone, except those born with a rare genetic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU) . The disorder makes the sufferer’s body unable to break down phenylalanine, so the consumption of artificial sweeteners that contain phenylalanine will certainly have a bad impact.
Aspartame for diabetic patients
Being a person with diabetes means paying attention to the intake of sugar that enters the body. Not only sugar, they also have to control the amount of calories and carbohydrates from the food and drinks consumed.
With a sweetness that reaches 200 times the natural sweetener, aspartame is often chosen by people with diabetes to give sweetness to their food and drinks instead of sugar. By using this artificial sweetener, people with diabetes can still enjoy the sweet taste without worrying about the number of calories that enter.
Although it is safe for diabetics, its use cannot also be given haphazardly. You still have to pay attention to the content that enters the body.
BPOM states that the allowed intake of aspartame is as much as 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day. So, if you weigh 50 kilograms, the amount of sweetener you can consume per day is 2,000 milligrams a day.
Even so, in reality the amount you consume daily is usually only 10 percent of the BPOM recommendation limit. This is because these artificial sweeteners already have a very high sweet taste, so you only need very little.
Some people may feel uncomfortable or hesitant to use aspartame because of its unnatural nature, even though some research has stated it is safe. It is recommended that people with diabetes continue to consult with their physicians regarding the safe use of aspartame along with the recommended dosage per day. Especially if you are going on a diet and replace your natural sugar intake.