In a previous post I wrote about my efforts to ditch diet soda. In the past, I have reduced/eliminated it but always went back. During these times, I would substitute drinks like crystal light for diet soda. I figured that since they helped me drink more water they were harmless. My game plan has since changed. Like diet soda, crystal light (and countless other things) have aspartame in them. I am trying to learn as much as I can about aspartame which is difficult. I know I can not trust everything I read (especially online!) and different sources say different things. To start, I visited http://www.aspartame.org/. Here are some things I found on this site in a section called expert opinions.
The Good (pulled directly from the site)
Aspartame is one of the best food ingredients exhaustively studied and it has been tested in more than 100 scientific studies prior to FDA approval in 1981. The studies were conducted in laboratory animals and humans, including infants, children, healthy adults, lactating women, diabetics, obese people and people with the rare genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU). In addition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Scientific Committee Food (SCF) of the European Union and regulatory agencies of more than 100 countries have reviewed aspartame and found that its use was safe.
There is a plethora of information on this website that asserts the safety and benefits of aspartame. Of course, aspartame is not the only artificial sweetener out there. The Mayo Clinic lists the primary types of artificial sweeteners and discusses their pros and cons.
The Mayo Clinic states that some of the benefits of artificial sweeteners is that they can help with weight control, they do not cause tooth decay, and they may be a good alternative for people with diabetes.
Many sources claim that aspartame “(is) by far the most dangerous substance added to most foods today.” Some of these negative effects are summarized in a video. I also listened to a segment on NPR where researchers discuss the negative effects of artificial sweeteners.
There is an insane amount of information out there that will attempt to convince consumers that artificial sweeteners are the root evil and must be avoided at all costs.
Based on what I have read about the pros and cons of artificial sweetener, I am still not sure what to think. When it comes to fertility, I do think that it is important to consider how they could impact babymaking. Several sites highly recommend avoiding aspartame when trying to get pregnant.
It is easy to get caught up in all of this come to the conclusion that any amount of artificial sweetener kills your chance to conceive. On the other hand, I had difficulty finding scientific research that backs up these claims. I have even researched peer reviewed journals and can not find much (one of the benefits of being a doctoral student is that I have access to a multitude of academic resources). One might then ask why I am attempting to eliminate artificial sweeteners from my diet. The primary reason is that not consuming them makes me feel better. I did feel pretty bad for the first week after I gave up Diet Coke and Crystal Light (do not even get me started on the headaches and irritability) but now I am feeling better than I did when I consumed them. I feel less sluggish (I know it could be a placebo effect or due to another cause). Water is now my primary beverage of choice which I think helps me get through my workouts and has even helped me become more regular (sorry if that is tmi!). I am now trying to identify other foods that have artificial sweeteners hidden in them and see if I can find substitutes. I am not sure if artificial sweeteners have impacted my fertility or if getting rid of them will make a difference in this department but I am willing to at least give it a go. If anyone has any information on this topic, I would love it if you would share. I have said before that I am not qualified in any way to give nutrition advice. I am just sharing my journey.