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Aspartame and constipation


technologically ignorant
I wondered if anyone else has noticed this problem or if it's just me.

I started Lighter Life about 20 weeks ago and at first I had very loose bowels (which are totally normal for me as I have a slight defect in my colon). After about eight weeks I started to get a few problems with constipation but nothing that a bit of senna tea couldn't sort out. However things got progressively worse to the point where nothing short of an enema would work.

I know that constipation can be common on diets, especially low carb - high protein ones but I don't think this is the entire story with me. After I came off Lighter Life I did a couple of weeks of Weight to Go which is not a ketogenic diet and has some real food in it along with three shakes a day. This diet made my constipation worse.

Earlier this year before I started dieting I went through a long phase of being very tired and I started using Red Bull (diet version) a lot to get me through work. After a few weeks I started to get badly constipated and since the Red Bull was the only difference in my diet I thought it may be the problem so I stopped it (went onto pro-plus instead) and everything returned to normal in a couple of weeks.

Now the commonality between Red Bull and many diet products is aspartame. I did some Googling and found a lot of claims about the horrible things aspartame does to you; constipation was mentioned although not that often.

I have now gone onto an aspartame-free real food diet in the hope that my insides will return to normal. Once they have I'd like to go back to Lighter Life but only using the aspartame free products (soups and chewy bars) and see what happens.

I would be interested in anyone else's experience or opinions on this. I would also be interested if anyone has ever found an aspartame-free diet drink I could get; I usually just drink water but sometimes a sweet drink can really help on a diet.
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Full Member
S: 12st13lb C: 10st3lb G: 10st5lb BMI: 23.1 Loss: 2st10lb(20.99%)
i see...

well im wierd. if i drink redbull or cofee i get really really tired. but if i have a chocolate bar or a can of normal coke, i get a bit of energy...so if i feel tired thats what i have (probably the sugar gives me a little)...

about the aspartame, yeah i heard really bad things about it. even though i wanna loose weight, i wont give up normal coke because its the only thing i enjoy (i dont drink alcohol, i dont smoke, or take any drugs). and i dont really enjoy chocolate either. but i get sooo much pleasure from drinking coke. but i have cut down on it. probably take about 1-2 bottles a week now, max.

did you go to a doctor?, maybe there could be other defencies in your diet. theres no point loosing weight in a bad diet, because it could lead to bigger problems. and the experts always recomend that slow weight loss is better than quick.

and if you need energy, try doing some exercise, i know people who just get plenty of natural energy from good cardio.
S: 26st2.2lb C: 24st13lb G: 21st5lb BMI: 54.7 Loss: 1st3.2lb(4.7%)
After experiencing some wierd tingling feelings in my legs I went to my Dr who referred me to an Multiple Sclerosis specialist I was booked in for an MRI which I couldn't go through with because I fell pregnant just before my appointment came through.

I did some research into MS and came up with a few articles of Dr's linking MS with Aspartame, at the time I was drinking tonnes of Coke Zero, possibly 2 litres a day, I've always been addicted to Coke and when they brought out the 1 calorie version that tasted fine I thought all my Christmas's had come at once. Although I know there is no official proof to these claims nor is it confirmed that the tingling in my legs is MS I will never touch the stuff again because the time in which it flared up is the time I started to diet and care about calories which is obviously when my intake of Aspartame went through the roof.

S: 16st2lb C: 13st11lb G: 12st10lb BMI: 29.3 Loss: 2st5lb(14.6%)
An aspartame free VLCD is exante. Their soups are nicer, shakes are worse, and bars are good too. ?but they have much less crap in them than LL ones.

constipation is probably cos of the lack of volume entering your system. i.e. if you think of the amount of powder in a sachet, times by 4 and that's all that's going in solid wise. It's quite common to get constipation on vlcd's.

Lack of energy could be the aspartame. It could also be the ketosis thing. Don't know how long you were on LL for, but for some people it contributes to tiredness. Caffeine can also lead to tiredness which could be the link to the red bull....

Dunno. Just thoughts.


technologically ignorant
The last couple of months of eating real food and little or no aspartame have really helped.

I am actually now going to risk going back to Lighter Life, aspartame and all as I like the speed of the weight loss. The doctor has recommended glycerine suppositories for constipation and they really work so I've decided to just put up with things until I reach my goal weight.

I have looked at Exante but it is based on three products a day rather than four and I simply couldn't cope with that. I really need an extra boost before starting my long commute home from work but I couldn't go without any of the three main meals. I often get dizzy at about 4.00 anyway on Lighter Life and I need something. I did wonder about whether I couple split soup and shake sachets to make four or five meals a day but that could get complicated.

I certainly got very tired in the first few weeks of Lighter Life but that went away after the first month. My Red Bull episode was pre-diet when I was eating loads of calories but not sleeping very well. I have now persuaded my work to allow me a light box on the desk which makes a hell of a difference to my tiredness levels hopefully killing the need for caffine except in exceptional circumstances.

Aspartame is often cited as responsible for all sorts of horrible side effects; a quick Google gave me a site that said there were 92 of them including blindness, seizures, irreversible brain damage and death. Oddly enough it did not give constipation but instead listed diarrhea but it would be typical of me to have the opposite symptom to a listed side-effect; I've often been on medication that is supposed to make you drowsy that completely stops me sleeping!

I assume that despite all the horrible side-effects reported there is no robust scientific evidence of any of them (the serious ones in any case) or the Food Standards Agency wouldn't allow it to be sold.

Additional - I have just looked at the FSA website and they say the following:
· Aspartame was first approved in the UK in 1982.
· Following reports casting doubt on its safety the European Commission reviewed 500 scientific studies and in 2002 they said there was no need to change their opinion that it was safe.
· It also says that all food additives should be kept under review as new evidence becomes available.
· The safe recommended intake is 40mg per kg of body mass a day which they say is equivalent to the average adult (they mean 70kg) drinking 14 cans of drink sweetened with the maximum allowed amount of aspartame, most drinks use less than this apparently.
· Aspartame is not safe for people with the genetic condition Phenylketonuria who can not metabolise the amino acid phenylalanine. This affects about 1 in 10,000 people and can cause brain damage if untreated. Babies have been screened for the condition since 1969 and it says that anyone older than that would almost certainly have noticed the condition by now.
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