Aspartame is that ubiquitous chemical artificial sweetener. I don’t recommend it, although I know many people use it and the stories about its dangers may be exaggerated. However, some people do have adverse reactions to aspartame including headache, dizziness, seizures, joint pain, and fatigue. If you’re thinking of going on an “aspartame fast” to see if getting the stuff out of your system might improve your overall health—a good idea, by the way—you need to keep an eagle eye for where this artificial product may turn up.
Aspartame is everywhere. You find it in virtually all diet soft drinks and most diet products, from sugar-free candy to diet pudding. But you can also find it in some unexpected places:
- Sugar-free chewing gum (I don’t know of one sugar-free gum that does not use aspartame).
- Ginger pickles (the kind they serve as sushi bars)
- Many types of chewable vitamins and drugs (for kids and adults)
- Some brands of natural fiber laxatives
- Some prescription drugs (read the labels)
- Breath mints
- Some toothpastes and oral hygiene products
- Flavored syrups used in low-calorie versions of coffee drinks
- Products labeled “no sugar added” (sometimes they add aspartame instead)
- Some ketchups, barbecue sauces, and condiments