Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fun Fact #5

Fun Fact #5: I am allergic to Aspartame.

What is aspartame? It is a synthetic amino acid compound found in sugar substitutes, particularly Equal and NutraSweet. Amino acids (aka proteins) require enzymes to be broken down and metabolized in the body. This works well as a sugar substitute because proteins, unlike carbohydrates, can not be converted into fat. However, research is showing us that the body can not regularly break down this synthetic compound and must work harder and use more enzymes to achieve metabolism. The Catch-22 is that while your body is working so hard to metabolize this sugar substitute, it is too busy/tired to metabolize any carbohydrate you are ingesting and thus that carb is being converted to fat. The lesson to learn from this? Don't expect that by simply switching from regular soda to diet soda and making no other diet or exercise changes you will lose weight. Most likely, you'll end up gaining.

Why is aspartame particularly bad for me? I apparently do not possess the right enzymes to break down aspartame, so my body rejects it, as it would reject any other substance I can not break down (such as dairy). This results in a myriad of symptoms for me, the most common being migraine headaches.

Why is this my fun fact for the week? After grocery shopping today, I was extremely thirsty so I stopped by a drive-thru to grab a quick lunch on the ride home. I ordered regular soda and instead was given diet. I knew this as soon as I tasted the soda, but I was so thirsty I kept drinking. That was the most aspartame I have had in years, and 10 hours later, I am still paying for my terrible judgement. Next time, just stick with water!

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