First things first, we need to understand exactly what Aspartame is. Aspartame was inadvertently invented in 1965 by a chemist who at the time was working on an ulcer drug when he accidentally spilled some of the product on his figures, later on licking his figures to pick up a piece of paper he noticed the unusually sweet taste. On testing, it was proven to be 200 times sweeter than natural sugar and thus the ulcer drug became a sweetener.

Today it is commonly known Cesulfame potassium (K), AminoSweet®, Neotame®, Equal®, NutraSweet®, Blue Zero Calorie Sweetener Packets™, Advantame®, NutraSweet New Pink, Canderel®, Pal Sweet Diet® and AminoSweet®.

It is found in more than 6000 products, consumed by over 200 million people worldwide, making it one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners. (1)

Aspartame does not occur naturally, once you consume it is almost immediately broken down into three chemical compounds. Aspartic acid, Phenylalanine and free Methanol (found in antifreeze, rocket fuel etc) while methanol is similar to ethanol (the alcohol found in wine and beer) the body deals with methanol by transforming it into formaldehyde, carcinogenic chemicals used in embalming bodies.

When apart of aspartame, phenylalanine, can cross the blood brain barrier where it’s toxic effect causes serotonin levels to decrease. Phenylalanine also breaks down into dopamine (the happy hormone) and norepinephrine and epinephrine (fight or flight hormones) not ideal for those dealing with high amounts of stress.  (2)

Here are just a few of the ways in which Aspartame can negatively affect your body.

Gut Health:

Aspartame has a toxic, stressing effect on your gut making it difficult for microbes to grow and reproduce. This can in turn affect your body’s ability to process regular sugar and other carbohydrates. Raising your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Acting as a potential aggravator in autoimmune conditions leading to chronic inflammation and intestinal permeability (leaky gut). (3)

Effects on Muscle Mass:

Artificial sweeteners trick the body into believing it is going to receive energy in the form of sugar, when the sugar is not delivered the body finds the sugar somewhere else. One of the alternative sources is muscle leading to a loss in lean muscle mass.

Potential Increased Risk of Brain Tumours and Cancer:

Studies have linked malignant brain tumours to aspartame consumption. A study found that even in low doses animals were developing several different forms of cancer when fed aspartame with an exceedingly high incidence of brain tumours.

Harvard researchers reported a positive association between aspartame intake and the increased risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and multiple myeloma in men and leukaemia in men and women. The Ramazzini institute continues to stand behind the results of its multiple studies finding that aspartame is associated with a 300% increase in lymphoma / leukemia incidence.  (4,5,6,7)

Weight Gain:

A 2017 study found that artificial sweeteners do not show a clear benefit for weight management, instead they may be associated with increased body mass index and risk of heart attacks.  Another study concluded that artificial sweeteners are linked to obesity with aspartame linked to increased risk of abdominal obesity. (8,9,10,11)

Heart disease and stroke:

Aspartame intake is associated with metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess belly fat, high cholesterol/triglyceride levels) with risks in those who were exposed in the womb rising.  (12)

Products that contain Aspartame

  • Diet soda
  • Sugar-free breath mints
  • Sugar-free (or “no sugar added”) cereals
  • Sugar-free (or “no sugar added”) condiments
  • Flavoured coffee syrups
  • Flavoured water
  • Sugar-free ice cream and/or toppings
  • Diet iced tea products
  • Low-sugar or sugar-free fruit juices
  • Meal replacement shakes/snacks
  • “Nutrition” bars
  • Sports drinks (especially “sugar-free” varieties)
  • Soft candy chews
  • Yogurt (sugar-free, fat-free and some drinkable brands)
  • Vegetable juice drinks
  • Natural fiber laxative
  • Fiber oral powder supplements
  • Appetite control supplements

Should I avoid aspartame?

Well in short yes, yes you should! In fact everyone should avoid it, diabetic, people trying to loose weight, pregnant women, children, young, old, tired, thin, fat … everyone.

Are there any natural alternatives?

The reality is that anything synthetic has no place in your diet. But, If you must sweeten your food and drinks with a sweetener then make use of one of these:


Stevia is a plant that has been around since before the dawn of time. Native to South America  it is also 200 times sweeter gram for gram than sugar. However, please be sure to use Organic pure stevia avoiding altered stevia blends.

Raw Honey:

Raw honey has been known to aid in countering the effects of some allergies, helping to manage weight, promote sleep and fight oxidative stress. Though please note that this is not your invitation to make like Winnie the pooh and scoop it out of the pot, with your bare paws!  

Monk Fruit:

A fruit-based sweetener that has no calories and is between 300-400 times sweeter than sugar. There is evidence that it may help lower the risk of diabetes and cancer as well as combat infection. Again, be sensible, organic only and given its sweetness you really don’t need a lot!  

Over the years many arguments have been put forward to reason that Aspartame is safe, however medical science has dramatically evolved since aspartame was first approved and with increasing number of independent; non insider corporations, funded research papers indicating that Aspartame and in fact all artificial sweeteners are harmful to your health it might make you think again before you lift your soda can.

Tips to avoid artificial sweeteners:

My number one tip is to avoid packaged food, it’s hard to hide chemicals in food that doesn’t come in a package meaning that you’re almost always going to be better off.

Invest in eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables which will help your body regain optimum function and wherever possible make use of organic produce.

If you do buy packaged goods make a point of reading the labels to see what is in your food.

We have all heard the famous Welsh proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” but what is it about apples and why are they regarded so highly?

Apples are rich in

Vitamin C: A powerful natural antioxidant with the ability to block some of the damage caused by free radicals while simultaneously boosting the body’s resistance to infectious agents. (1)

B-complex vitamins (riboflavin, thiamine and vitamin b-6): Key vitamins for nervous system health and maintaining red blood cells. (2)

Dietary fibre: Aids in controlling blood cholesterol levels. (3)

Phytonutrients: Rich in polyphenolic compounds which help protect the body from the disadvantageous effects of free radicals. (4

Minerals: Packed with minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. (5)

Various studies have found apples to be very beneficial to your health.

One study found that quercetin (an antioxidant found abundantly in apples) to be one of two compounds which aided in the reduction of cellular death caused by oxidation and inflammation of neurons.  Another study found that the consumption of apples may increase the production of the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine resulting in improved memory (6). Other studies have shown apples to reduce the risk of thrombotic stroke (7) . While another found that when older women ate apples every day they had 23% less bad cholesterol (LDL) 4% more good cholesterol (HDL) after six months (8)

Apples have been shown to lower your risk of diabetes (9) and the evidence is mounting to suggest that a single apple a day may help prevent breast cancer added to this a 2014 study found that the bioactive compounds of apples positively affected the beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.

In short, these juicy little fruit not only promote weight loss and gut health but work wonders on your memory, helping to prevent migraines and headaches. They reduced the potential of stroke as well as lessening bad cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of diabetes alongside all of the above they are looking to be a promising tool in the arsenal of natural breast cancer-fighting weapons.

It would seem that the old Welsh proverb was right. An apple a day may keep the doctor away!

Coconut oil has slowly gained popularity, sliding its way into kitchens around the world.  Recently this amazing and exceedingly beneficial oil has taken a hammering in the press, leaving the majority of its faithful users dazed and confused as to why this apparently healthy oil is suddenly public enemy number one.

The first fact that everyone needs to understand is that not all calories are created equal. If only it was as simple as that. Fats have a calorific value of 9 calories per gram, regardless of whether they come from animals, or plants. But that is where their similarities end.

Different fats have different nutrient values some (soy, corn, canola, etc.) are more likely to take you down the road of health degradation and others (coconut, olive, flax seed etc) are likely to do just the opposite. It’s important to understand the best way to use different fats and oils and how to take full advantage of them. Some, due to the way they are farmed, are loaded with toxic chemicals (1), some are loaded with antibiotics and hormones not intended for humans (2), some amazing health promoting oils full of anti-oxidants degrade when heated while others oxidise when stored in direct sunlight and then there are the exceedingly unhealthy oils which are by-products of industrial fat production. It’s understandably confusing and cutting fat right out of your diet is simply not the answer. Fats are essential in maintaining your body’s ability to function, your brain is essentially made from fat! 

Coconut oil is a saturated fat, at this point your brain is remembering all the miss-information you have been fed about avoiding saturated fats at all costs. Allegedly they raise cholesterol levels which in turn can cause heart attacks, or do they?

Coconut oil contains eight healthy medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) These healthy fatty acids are an amazing energy source. Unlike most fats they only require a breakdown process of three steps as where others require a twenty-six step process! MCFAs are easier to digest, antimicrobial and anti-fungal, smaller in physical size and immediately converted by the liver into energy rather than being stored as fat.

Coconut oil has a list of benefits as long as your arm. Here are just six of them to get you thinking.

Reduction of Inflammation and Arthritis

Studies have shown that the high levels of antioxidants in virgin coconut oil reduce inflammation and effectively treat arthritis. (3)

Improvement of skin issues: burns, eczema, dandruff, dermatitis and psoriasis

Caprylic and lauric acid, two of the fatty acids in coconut oil reduce inflammation both internally and externally, they also have moisturizing properties making unrefined coconut oil a simple, easy and arguably cheap solution to skin conditions. (4,5)

Can be used to treat UTI and kidney infections and protects the liver

Coconut oil has been known to clear up and heal urinary tract infections (UTI) and kidney infections. The MCFAs in the oil work as a natural antibiotic coating the harmful bacteria and killing them. Research shows that coconut oil directly protects the liver from damage. (6)

Boosts the Immune System

Lauric acid in coconut oil is known to fight bacteria and reduce candida by creating a hostile environment for viruses.

Improves brain function and memory

The Journal of Neurobiology of Aging, released a study in which researchers found that MCFAs in coconut oil improved memory problems especially in their older subjects. The study showed a marked improvement in memory recall. The MCFAs are easily absorbed and readily feed the brain. (7)  

Helps prevent high blood pressure and heart disease

Being a natural saturated fat, coconut oil has the power to increase healthy cholesterol (HDL) and help to convert the (LDL) “bad” cholesterol into beneficial cholesterols. Increasing HDL in the body helps to lower the risk of heart disease and promote heart health.

There are rarely any side effects from using coconut oil. Though unusual it’s worth remembering that certain individuals may be allergic to coconuts (8) 

Unlike other oils, coconut oil can take a reasonable amount of heat (don’t deep fry with it, but you shouldn’t be doing that anyway!) which means it can be used in place of butter when it comes to cooking and baking, you can put a tablespoon in your morning smoothie or you can use it as a lip balm and body butter. It has a wonderfully refreshing flavour and due to its nature does not contain any harmful toxins, chemicals, or hydrogenated cooking oils.

Remember to always buy extra virgin or unrefined organic coconut oil.