Sweet Trick, no Treat: The Truth About Artificial Sweeteners

Sweetener, Sugar Free
I am writing this for anyone out there struggling with unusual symptoms, and worried about their health, when no source of disease can be pin-pointed for your symptoms.
If you struggle with dizziness, fatigue, reduced cognitive functioning, trouble thinking, spacing out, blacking out, confusion, tinnutus, depression, out of control anxiety…
If you have developed MS, systemic lupus, or any other neurodegenerative disease…
If you are experiencing ANY of the above, and you consume any type of artificial sweetener- stop taking sweeteners right now!
This is my experience with Artificial Sweeteners. It starts, like many horror stories, in middle school. When I learned about the ethical and environmental impacts of meat, it motivated the 11 year old me to become a vegetarian.
Naturally, I lost some weight. People noticed, and complimented me for the weight loss. Some people even told me that skinny me looked more “white”. This triggered me and I became obsessed with weight loss. Being seen as mixed was a source of pain and sometimes danger for me. I felt ashamed for not being fully “one race”, because people of all “races” have bullied me for it. I often felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere.
And so to ‘fit in’ imo, I began a game of control and starvation called the Eating Disorder. A part of this self-inflicted torture was abusing artificial sweeteners. Even though I was warned numerous times by friends (who watched me down pints of the powdery poison everyday) of the dangers, I continued to consume this ‘guilt-free’ chemical treat because I had an eating disorder… with a self restricted 400 calorie daily limit- WTF!
I began to experience bizarre health issues. I felt myself ‘disconnecting’ randomly, around friends or in crowded shopping malls. I would space out and not be able to pull myself back into my mind. It felt as if my mind, brain and body stopped communicating. Sometimes it felt like being underwater- where I couldn’t speak or understand what was going on around me, but I was still “there” somewhere.
In High School, I developed cysts in and around my left thyroid that grew big enough to affect my ability to breathe. I had surgery and half of my thyroid was removed. My mom said “Stop all the Splenda- scientists say it has caused tumors in rats!” But I chose not to listen, because the scale said 105lbs and I needed to be 90…
In college, I fought hard to end the game with the Eating Disorder. But the habit of reaching for “diet” and “sugar-free” was engrained in my being. Sophomore year, I noticed that my memory and speech issues were becoming progressively worse. Sometimes it was hard to speak, like my tongue wouldn’t work properly. Words came out garbled and nonsensical. But I just laughed it off and spoke less…
I started to have increased difficulty with normal motor skills. I would drop things- my hands felt “dumb” and they were difficult to control. My anxiety became so severe that I stopped leaving my apartment for anything beyond work or school.
It’s an ego check to write this- but I chose to ignore all of these issues because I felt ashamed to be damaged in some kind of way. Booking a doctors appointment for random symptoms was complicated with my insurance, and to be honest, after the surgeries in high school, I didn’t really want to know what else was up.
Fortunately my symptoms weren’t TOO severe- just noticeable enough to be puzzling to my friends, family, and lover, who saw me space out, struggle with speech, and frequently forget details of things we would do together. It became a joke to everyone, something they labeled as ‘cute’, and a ‘Passion thing’ – so I accepted the problems.
After I had a seizure in my apartment my last year of college, I decided the solution was to cut back on drinking, eat better and get more sleep. I promised myself that if something “more severe” happened, then I would get checked out- WTF pt.II !
Later that year, on a car ride through Vegas, I listened to my friends boyfriend describe symptoms of his Mother’s, which he attributed to artificial sweetener abuse. I listened in a sort-of a daze as he described the same frustrating issues I was experiencing. It was like he was reading my mind.
The next day, I immediately started Googling and I learned that most artificial sweeteners are loaded with toxins– and many are excitotoxins, a type of neurotoxin that literally kills brain cells. My Psychology-degree wielding mind cringed. Ouch. These are chemicals who cross your blood brain barrier, enter into your mind, killing neurons and cutting connection pathways in your brain.
These were chemicals that release methanol and dioxin into the blood, mimicking formaldehyde, penetrating into our muscle tissue- wreaking havoc throughout our bodies nervous system. I read so many horror stories describing symptoms that mirrored my own. I was overcome with guilt and shame for what I had done to my brilliant, unique mind.
And so, on that day in September of 2014 I cut out all artificial sweeteners and I haven’t been back since. I wanted to post this as a warning to anyone who loves their #Splenda or #DietCoke. You are killing yourself slowly. Please stop.
Do not wait another day. Do not listen to the corporate machine paid to tell you sweeteners are safe. Do not wait for things to get worse. Do not settle for the pain that you are already in. Make the switch to living sweetener free. It’s easier than you’d imagine, and you will feel so much better. It has been a little over two years since I have consumed ANY artificial sweeteners, and I weight less, I am happier, and the symptoms have mostly disappeared. Anxiety is now manageable, and I am in the best shape of my life. All I do is eat a mostly vegan diet with lots of fruits and veggies, and stay active.
How To Heal Yo Self:
It has been a little over two years now since I completely cut artificial sweeteners out of my diet. I no longer experience the heavy, disorienting brain fog. I remember events lucidly. I feel turned all the way back on. It has been a battle, but now I am stronger, I am more aware of the foods I eat, and I am fiercely passionate about co-creating a healthier and safer world for people.
I want to share with you what has helped me heal from artificial sweetener abuse. What worked for me may not work for everyone because we are all made different. I spent a lot of time researching and testing out different ways to improve my brain function and health. Quitting the sweeteners and detoxing had the greatest affect by far. Experiment with different methods to see what works for you. Do your own research, then come back and share in the comments what you’ve learned. I hope this helps!
The Most Important Step:
Stop consuming all artificial sweeteners. You must stop taking the chemicals to start healing. Avoid EVERYTHING that is reduced sugar, low sugar, sugar free, AVOID IT! Even Sugar-Free GUM. Anything with these chemicals, do not consume. These chemicals are addictive, but you WILL do it if you believe in yourself. I’ll say it again: You Must Stop Taking The Chemicals To Start Healing.
More Tools That Support Healing:
1. Taking It Easy.
One of the most important pieces of advice I can give is to take your healing slowly. If you are coming off of decades of artificial sweetener abuse, more than likely, your brain will need time to build connections back up. It’s okay to admit to yourself that things are really different in your mind space than what they used to be. Don’t try to move at 300% or even 100% of your capacity. You have permission to slow down. Take your time at work. Take your time cooking. Take your time driving. Slow everything the fuck down. And breathe. Deeply.
2. Eating Nutrient Dense Foods
It is now crucial to make sure you are getting enough nutrients to encourage healthy brain development. Eat nutrient dense foods every day. Load up on your veggie game, and drink cold pressed juices. Forget about the cost. This is your health. It is worth more than all of the moneys in the world.
Eat foods that contain Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Our brain uses these magical amino acids to enhance cognitive functions like memory and mood. There are 3 different types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and after years of artificial sweetener abuse, our brains will benefit the most from a dose of DHA Omega 3’s. DHA Omega 3’s cannot be found in plants – their Omega 3’s are ALA. Fish, Shellfish, and Algae have the essential DHA Omega 3’s that our brains crave. Fresh wild caught Salmon contains a very high dose.
DHA aids cognitive development- repairing neural tissue to help with memory loss, cognitive performance, and learning. For this reason, I do occasionally break my vegan diet for wild caught Salmon. I can feel the difference in my cognitive functioning when I go months with no fish, vs when I’ve eaten some fish. (NOTE: I always thank and bless the fish before I eat it, because I believe the energy exchange is sacred. I am currently looking into algae for a cruelty free solution. I will update this when I’ve tried it out.)
3. Sleep. Sleep. Sleeeep zzzz
Sleeping is a natural process that heals the brain. Our brains are like super complex mini computers. When we sleep, they run a program that heals brain matter. Researchers believe that sleep reduces levels of oxidative stress– and the toxins from artificial sweeteners have been linked with creating more oxidative stress in the brain!
So after you’ve quit hitting the powder, take those naps you always avoided! Make sure you are getting 7-8 hours a night, and don’t be ashamed to cancel plans with friends so you can sleep more. You are literally rebuilding your brain. They will understand. Heck, invite them over to nap with you! Cuddle parties rule. And cuddling releases oxytocin, which is a natural healer for the body.
4. Yoga and Meditation.
Practice yoga and meditation. Your dexterity may have been affected by the artificial sweeteners- I know mine was. Yoga will help retrain the connection between your mind and physical body. From my experience it has been a necessary tool in my healing. It helped me ground back down, when I felt lost in the spacey blankness of my disconnected mind. Research shows that meditation literally changes structures in your brain, increasing neural connections and more!
I hope this helps anyone who is suffering like I was. Don’t lose your sense of hope. It’s takes work to heal, but you can do it. When I found out, I actually became very depressed and distrusting about the world for a few months. If this hits you hard, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I am here to support you on your journey. If you have any questions, please leave me a comment or reach out to me on Instagram @TheCyberWitch.

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