How dangerous is aspartame? A nutritionist-psychiatrist explains
The adverse effects of artificial sweeteners on the gut and brain give me pause and remind me of one of my six main principles of nutritional psychiatry: Be Healthy, Eat Whole Foods.
When we choose foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners, we also often choose foods rich in refined oil, colors, dyes, and stabilizers. While they may be “fortified” with one vitamin to make them look healthy, they actually provide only a tiny component of a much bigger picture of real nutrition (usually with a heavy dose of inflammation).
In response, I always recommend to my clients to replace soda with still or sparkling water with a fruit or cucumber drink. These are flavorful, nutrient-dense whole food beverage options.
What I love most about whole foods like fresh berries, crunchy leafy greens, plant-based proteins, and nutritious whole grains is that they provide a balanced offering of a variety of nutrients that work together to support our energy and mental health. The natural combinations of nutrients in whole foods often contain healthy fats or proteins to help keep blood sugar levels stable, providing constant energy. They also contain fiber, which nourishes the gut and optimizes our brain for good mood and focus. I say key minerals make the world go round because they play an important role in our body’s natural production of neurotransmitters—chemicals that control our moods.
However, that doesn’t mean I support strict meal plans. When we stick to whole, unprocessed foods 80% of the time, the other 20% of the time gives us some flexibility. As with everything, I believe moderation is key when it comes to nutrition.