Aspartame – When My Brain Has a Party and Doesn’t Invite Me

IMG_0420My Dad had seizures. They were rare, so don’t hear that statement as a declaration of the kind of disorder that some have to contend with where they’re dealing with seizure activity on an almost daily basis.

Years later, they would diagnose him with Sleep Apnea, which made sense in that he never had a seizure during the day. He would always have to deal with them – however rare they might’ve been – at nite.

Fast forward to the early nineties. I’m headed home with my bride from work. I’m talking to her when all of a sudden, my tongue starts to feel sluggish. The last thing I remember was not being able to form a coherent thought and speaking as though I were intoxicated. That night I had my first seizure. Or, as I like to describe it, my brain goes off and has a party without me.

Like my Dad, my situation is very minimal compared to others. As a matter of fact, I had a Neurologist at one point say that I might actually grow out of it. Until then, however, I need to be sensitive to those things that, while they may not cause a seizure, are nevertheless things that put me in that zone.

In addition to making sure I’m getting some good rest and eating right, another thing that has recently surfaced is the presence of diet soda in my diet.

I had a Chiropractor once reference this, but since I was seeking out holistic options, it didn’t really register once I was on medication and I found myself enjoying Diet Pepsi’s on a daily basis.

Just so you can appreciate the definitive nature of what I’m getting ready to share, understand that I hadn’t experienced a seizure for a couple of years. My meds, my diet, my exercise routine – all seemed to be culminating in a way where seizures were distant possibilities if they were something I worried about at all.

Yesterday, I had an “episode.” The official word from the doctor was that I passed out and I’m fine with that, but I’m familiar enough with the way I feel both before and after the “party” to feel compelled to review what might be different that could’ve contributed to my scenario yesterday.

I went out and found several links that document definitive links between epilepsy and artificial sweeteners. Here’s an excerpt from one page that had several case studies:

“A 27-year old woman with a ten-year history of a seizure disorder was seizure-free for nine years, controlled on Dilantin (300 mg per day). She consumed aspartame for the first time when for three days in a row she had “Knox Blocks Sugar-Free Jell-O.” On the the third day of aspartame consumption, she experienced a grand Mal seizure. During the past ten months, she has consumed no more aspartame and has again been seizure-free on the same medication regimen.

This is but one instance of several documented case studies. And while aspartame is referenced specifically, there are other articles that simply reference “artificial sweeteners,” hence my resolve to completely abstain from Diet Sodas as well as anything else that uses any kind of synthetic sweetener.

Having said that, I have done some research on Stevia. Since this is coming from a natural source, it’s much safer and while the jury is not completely out, there aren’t any neurological risks that I’ve seen as of yet. So, I will be enjoying some Coke Life in the future in lieu of other dietary options.

Perhaps one day it’ll quit having those parties altogether. I’ve no doubt that if that occurs, a contributing factor will be the elimination of sugar substitutes.

Here’s another site to look at the elaborates on the connection between seizures and aspartame: epilepsy.com. Also, the folks over at “Health Ambition” have written a great article on how to give up diet soda altogether that’s well worth looking at. Check it out at https://www.healthambition.com/7-steps-to-replace-diet-soda/

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