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Aspartame poisoning?

(26 Posts)
clemetteattlee Wed 22-Jun-11 16:08:06

Has anyone ever had this? Generally I have been quite sceptical about food "intolerances" in the past but am trying to be ore open minded.
I have recently been suffering from constant dizziness which doesn't seem to be related to inner ear problems. Looking back at my lifestyle changes I changed from full-sugar Dr Pepper to Diet Coke and low-sugar squash a few months ago t try and aid weight loss. I drink about a pint of squash and about three cans of Diet Coke a day.
I would assume this would not be enough to "poison" me but thought I would ask if anyone here had had similar symptoms which went after they eliminated aspartame?
Thanks in advance

silkenladder Wed 22-Jun-11 16:20:39

Have you seen your GP? The dizziness might have an unrelated cause. (Low blood pressure, pregnancy, dehydration, etc.)

Not wanting to offend you, but to me as a slim person that amount of "junk" drink (diet or otherwise) sounds like a lot. Can't you just drink water, or fruit tea, or even apple juice diluted with fizzy water? I'm sure cutting out the aspartame (and colourings, etc) would be better for your health, whether or not it's causing your dizziness.

gourd Wed 22-Jun-11 16:26:53

Could be low BP or might just be low blood sugar caused by sudden and massive reduction in your usual calorie intake. If your body is used to that kind of amount of sugar and you suddenly withdraw it it's not surprising you feel dizzy. Eating lower GI foods generally should help if it is that - trying to keep your blood sugar stable all day rather than having big peaks and troughs. For what it's worth research recently highlighted in the media showed low cal drinks tend to make people eat more food, possibly it's psychological and is because they think they can eat more as they are not having so many calories in drinks. Can't you just drink water or even have some hot or iced fruit infusions (Twinnings etc) if you want flavoured drinks? Anyhow, if you're concerned about dizzy spells you must go to your GP to rule out anything serious!

clemetteattlee Wed 22-Jun-11 16:50:01

Thank you. I am under the care of the GP (seeing him every two days as the dizziness is so severe) and we have ruled out all of the "usual suspects". As the dizziness is constant (and I don't drink fizz constantly) I am still a bit sceptical, but am interested in exploring all the options and causes as I NEED to get back to work!!
Interesting about blood sugar, but as I say, the dizziness is constant and causing me to fall over.

silkenladder Wed 22-Jun-11 17:40:40

That sounds pretty severe. I hope you and your GP get to the bottom of it quickly and that it's nothing serious.

Out of interest, did you cut your consumption of diet drinks today and has it made a difference?

QuintessentialShadow Wed 22-Jun-11 17:47:04

Stop the squashes and the diet drinks, and opt for plain water instead!

My aunt, who is a nutritionist cant drink even one glass of diet coke without getting dizzy. She tested her bloodsugar levels before and after drinking a glass of diet coke, and her levels dropped two points! It nearly causes her to faint.

Also, it does not aid weightloss at all. It tricks your body in such a way that if you DO eat something sugary, more sugar is taken up in your body than normal. So the end result is the same. The fizz also gasses up your stomach and expands it. Drinking green tea will speed up your metabolism. And coffee should only be taken before exercise, in which case it too will speed up metabolism.

chippy47 Wed 22-Jun-11 17:51:29


SootySweepandSue Wed 22-Jun-11 17:54:31

The book Sweet Poison by J Hull may be a good read for you. Sounds like low blood pressure or low sugar could be the cause though (no expert here).

I'm dieting too and would find it so hard without diet drinks. I am concerned about aspartame and have switched to Splenda in coffee with 1/2 cans of diet drink per day.

I think it's so hard to lower your sugar cravings permanently. Good luck hope you get an answer from GP.

colditz Wed 22-Jun-11 17:57:22

I had the same problem when I switched to low sugar drinks, and solved it by eating more regularly.

I had been accustomed to topping up my bloody sugar with sweet tea or Coke, and when I stopped, I wasn't replacing that sugar with ANYTHING except sugar free fluid. Cake is not a drink, sweet tea is not a drink, for the amount of calories they contain they are an effective snack.

Snack more. It's nothing to do with what you are consuming and everything to do with what you're not consuming.

clemetteattlee Wed 22-Jun-11 18:56:45

Thanks everyone.
Colditz, was it pretty much exactly the same ie constant dizziness?

colditz Wed 22-Jun-11 19:05:52

yes, and I also had some migraines, and was sensitive to sunlight.

All resolved by snacking

clemetteattlee Wed 22-Jun-11 19:10:39

Know this sounds dim, but could you give me an idea of what you have in a day? I do snack, but I suspect I am snacking on the wrong things!
Silkenladder, I haven't had a diet coke since lunchtime and no noticeable difference yet...

hiddenhome Wed 22-Jun-11 19:24:02

Artificial sweeteners confuse the body into producing insulin to deal with sugar that isn't actually there. They can cause a drop in the blood sugar levels which make you feel unwell.

The phosphorus in the coke also leaches calcium from the bones.

I currently have one of ds1's baby molars in some ordinary coke to see what effect is has. It's currently dissolving it as we speak confused

I don't know why anybody would voluntarily put that rubbish into their bodies. What's wrong with water, fruit juice, herbal teas, fruit teas, coffee, tea or milk?

clemetteattlee Wed 22-Jun-11 19:27:28

Won't take offence... Won't take offence. The fact is, I have been consuming fizzy pop for too many years. I don't drink alcohol, tea or coffee but know that I need to wean myself off. It will be a weaning process though - I REALLY enjoy Dr Pepper (my only remaining vice...)

RubberDuck Wed 22-Jun-11 19:30:31

The other thing I can think of that might be the issue is the caffeine content - is the caffeine content much higher in Dr Pepper much higher to that in coke? Caffeine withdrawal can make you feel very shaky. Might be another factor to consider.

Either way, I suggest weaning yourself off gradually rather than stopping cold turkey. I agree with other posters that it does seem a very large quantity to be drinking daily.

clemetteattlee Wed 22-Jun-11 20:05:46

It is not really a shake feeling. It is a constant, just about to fall over can't go to work dizziness unfortunately.
I do need to address the fizzy drinks but generally live a healthy lifestyle (and much healthier than mNy of my friends) so I dont think I really believe it can JUST be down to the diet Coke, but colditz's experience is very interesting and illuminating.

DBennett Wed 22-Jun-11 21:43:13

It is sounding more and more like labyrinthitis to me.

You can check the NHS page here.

clemetteattlee Wed 22-Jun-11 21:53:50

Thanks, we have largely dismissed labyrinthitis because the dizziness is my only symptom. I don't have the nystagmus, vertigo or tinnitus. I am a medical student myself so know that everyone presents differently, but it doesn't seem like a classic inner ear problem and neither medication nor VRT has made any difference.

colditz Thu 23-Jun-11 08:27:04

Give me a breakdown of what you eat and what time you eat it.

topsi Thu 23-Jun-11 08:55:14

drink water, it is good for you!

auburnlizzy78 Thu 23-Jun-11 09:06:37

Have they given you an MRI? I was like you, dizziness being my only symptom, and in the end they ruled out inner ear problems and did not know what else to do with me. So they gave me an MRI at the age of 25 and found a Type 1 Arnold Chiari malformation which is basically a brain condition which I had since birth where my cerebellum was physically sitting too low. Google it! It looks a bit scary but it's fixable and won't kill you!! I was operated on in 2004 and the dizziness disappeared overnight. Unlikely to apply here I guess but you never know. If you really believe in your heart that your diet is not the problem, ask the docs to send you for an MRI. What have you got to lose?

AlwaysbeOpralFruitstome Thu 23-Jun-11 14:06:15

Whilst I would totally take the advice of the other posters on here and check out any other possible causes, I used to drink diet pop and eat diet (well everything) as a teen and would regularly suffer from dizzy spells, near fainting episodes and migraines. In an attempt to find the cause, I cut out all 'diet' foods and it stopped.

I really believe that I have a strong reaction to aspartame. I inadvertently drank some a little while back (at a party, someone offered squash and I was parched), I could taste it and despite not finishing the glass, I felt whoosy and mildly 'head' nauseous IYKWIM for about an hour afterwards. I avoid the stuff like the plague now and never let my kids have it.

You need to kick the pop habit you have, but if you must have a Dr Peppers then I would stick to the full sugar kind.

clemetteattlee Thu 23-Jun-11 18:48:47

Thanks again for the replies. I'm glad you got your dizziness sorted auburnlizzy. Did it take a long time?
Always, that is really interesting. I haven't had any diet coke since yesterday and I do feel a little better today. It could be coincidence...
Do you remember how long it took from stopping having of aspartame to the symptoms disappearing?

auburnlizzy78 Thu 23-Jun-11 19:41:32

Hi there - nope straight away it felt better. Diagnosis to operation was five months, but I went private because it was so totally unliveable with. I couldn't wait eighteen months for an NHS op. The vast majority of people who have ACM have headaches but I had nothing. Odd question for you - is it worse when you look at patterned floors and/or "busy" supermarket shelves? When you walk, does it feel like you are trying to walk down the aisle of a moving train, or on a travelator at the airport? I used to find that would really set me off. For example, I couldn't set foot in Sainsbury's without someone to hold on to. Very very scary at the time but thank god ok now. I hope you get it sorted, it's really miserable feeling dizzy all the time.

Bunbaker Thu 23-Jun-11 19:49:49

"I am concerned about aspartame and have switched to Splenda in coffee with 1/2 cans of diet drink per day."

It isn't that difficult to train your taste buds to have no sweetener in hot drinks. I used to have 2 teaspoons of sugar in tea and coffee, but gave it up through sheer laziness. It took no more than a few days to stop wanting sugar in my drinks, and now I find sweet coffee or tea undrinkable

"I think it's so hard to lower your sugar cravings permanently."

It really doesn't take that long. I give up all sweet things every Lent and find after about a week I don't crave them at all.

I really do think that going cold turkey is the only way. I also think that continuing to eat foods that are sweetened artificially will make you continue to crave sweet foods.

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