Friday, April 27, 2007

Splenda and Nutrasweet and Death! Oh my!

Someone on a message board where I'm a member recently posted "warning" other members about the dangers of artificial sweeteners. Frankly, this was enough to brighten up my day a whole bunch. Why? Because people who are convinced that these sweeteners are death machines usually rely on one or more of the many doomsday-predicting websites that have popped up all over the internet in recent years. And those website are funny!

Some of these websites have faux doctors preaching that artificial sweeteners will cause you to develop leprosy, typhoid fever, Ebola virus, fungus on your toenails, peeling lips, ringing in the ears, hair loss in good places, hair growth on inappropriate places, thirst, hunger, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, fatigue, the bird flu, weight loss, weight gain, instant death, to many bowel issues, not enough bowel issues, social awkwardness and foot in mouth syndrome, all at the same time. The good news is that if you buy the faux doctor's book on the evils of artificial sweeteners, you will learn that you can be instantly cured from all of the above ailments simply by not drinking any diet soda or chewing sugar-free gum. $24.95 plus shipping and the rights to your tell-all testimonial about how quitting Splenda saved your life! No medical evidence of such is necessary, naturally.

Other websites add to the hysteria by decorating their manifestos with spinning, flashing skulls and other graphics that convey the appropriate level of fear I should feel when confronted with 12 ounces of death in a Diet Pepsi costume. Because spinning, flashing skulls trump peer-reviewed medical studies every time!

No matter who is running the website, there are always testimonials. Lots of testimonials from people who apparently lack the insight to realize that just because they ate a tub of sugar-free yogurt and later developed the flu-like symptoms, it may not be the yogurt's fault. Sometimes flu-like symptoms mean, you know, the flu. Or that because they chewed 14 sticks of sugar-free gum and got hives, that maybe they're allergic to an ingredient (maybe even the sweetener! gasp!) and just should avoid that product, or at the very least not chew 14 sticks of gum in one day, for pete's sake. But no, hives mean that the product is evil and should be banned from human consumption, just like peanuts and shellfish.

Most of all, reading some of those websites reminds me of when I was pregnant with my daughter and was a member of some pregnancy boards where "is it OK to drink diet soda?" was a daily question from a newly pregnant mom. Some of the gals I met on those boards are still my friends to this day, more than 6 years later. I still giggle when I see mention of aspartame being evil, remembering the speculation over whether my poor, Diet Pepsi-influenced child would be born with five heads or six. As it turns out, she just has the one head, and it's functioning quite well, tyvm.

And as for me, I had thyroid disease before I started drinking artificially sweetened stuff. Recently, when I tried to cut back on sodas, my thyroid disease got worse. Could it be possible that, instead of being a death machine, that Diet Pepsi is actually trying to cure what ails me? I like to think so.


Kay said...

Hi Heather.. I saw your post on the NS boards and "Nebraska Cat" caught my eye. I'm Kay, live in SE Neb.

I also was a city girl who married a farmer and had to learn all that farm stuff. It's been 26 years and I still don't drive a tractor! lol

I'm "LessKin07" on the NS boards.

My blog is here:

Nice to "meet" you! Happy Losing!

Carolyn said...

I think aspertame is the devil and I have no doctors to back me up. I like it way too much so there must be something wrong with it. My .02 for the day