Saturday, 25 February 2017

5 Signs You’re Eating Too Much Protein

Protein is the only macronutrient that hasn’t been demonized: carbs and fats have both been blamed for weight gain and various diseases. Protein, on the other hand, is praised for its fat-burning and muscle-building abilities.
Obviously, our bodies need protein. Protein and its amino acids help build and repair cells, build muscles, strengthen bones and keep hormones balanced. But eating too much of it can trigger unpleasant side effects.
According to research, an adult male needs 56 grams of protein per day and females need 46 grams of protein per day. Highly active people (athletes), pregnant women and seniors need 25 percent more protein.
Most people consume double or thrice the amount of protein they need in a day, and this can cause health problems. Here are signs you’re consuming more protein than you need.

1. YOU HAVE KIDNEY PROBLEMS

Research shows that high-protein diets stress the kidneys. The body has a limit on the amount of protein it can metabolize. Therefore, eating too much protein will strain or even damage the kidney.
It’s worth noting that high-protein diets do more damage to people with pre-existing kidney problems.

2. YOU ARE PACKING ON THE POUNDS

Protein is actually one of the best weight loss nutrients. It is relatively low in calories and helps keep hunger at bay. But you might end up gaining weight if you eat too much protein.
In this study, participants who ate high-protein, low-fat diets gained more weight than participants who were on a low-protein, high-fat diet. It’s worth mentioning that those who were on a high-protein diet gained more muscle mass.
This goes to show that you’ll gain weight if you overeat, regardless of the source of calories.

3. FREQUENT DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS

The fact that protein is hard to digest makes it great for weight loss. But this advantage is also a curse. Our stomachs can’t process excess protein, especially from animal sources. As a result, eating too much protein can cause constipation, nausea and indigestion.
High-protein diets also cause excess gas due to loss of water, which brings me to the next point…

4. YOU’RE DEHYDRATED ALL THE TIME

Research shows that eating too much protein can cause dehydration. This is due to nitrogen, a waste product that is created by the kidneys after they filter protein. Kidneys use water to excrete nitrogen from the body.
High-protein diets are mostly associated with low carb intake, and when we eat low-carb the body holds less fluids.

5. YOU HAVE BAD BREATH

Low carb intake causes bad breath due to ketosis. According to WebMD, when we don’t eat enough carbs, the body gets energy from fats and protein and this process causes bad breath.

The Dirty Dozen Food Additives to Avoid at All Costs

When you consider the 5,000 additives actually added to food along with the additional 5,000 that leech into food from packaging, we are regularly exposed to 10,000 food additives in the US—the bulk of which have never undergone any safety testing. And, almost none have been tested for the way in which they impact the body in combination. Given these factors, it is difficult to choose the 12 worst food additives to avoid, but here are my selections:

ARTIFICIAL COLORS

Since the medical journal the Lancet first published a study on the effects of artificial colors being linked to hyperactivity, groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest—a consumer advocacy group—has called for a ban on the use of artificial dyes in food. Yellow 5 or tartrazine, is derived from coal tar, and blue dye number 1 and 2 have been linked with cancer in animal tests, while red dye number 3 causes thyroid tumors in rats. Green dye number 3 is linked to bladder cancer, and yellow dye number 6 is linked to tumors of the kidneys and adrenal glands. Check out my blog “The Dark Side of Food Colors.”

ASPARTAME

Not only has aspartame been linked to headaches, according to Lynne Melcome, author of Health Hazards of White Sugar, aspartame’s effects can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, Epstein-Barr virus, Huntington’s chorea, hypothyroidism, Lou Gehrig’s disease, lyme disease, Meniere’s disease, multiple sclerosis, post-polio syndrome and sensitivity to mercury amalgam fillings. Aspartame is now known as Neotame or NeoTame. It is considered a cancer-causing ingredient that is added to many foods, particularly diet foods. It has also been linked to premature puberty in girls and blood sugar imbalances that lead to obesity.

BHA

BHA is an artificial flavor. It stands for butylated hydroxyanisole and is a suspected carcinogen and hormone disruptor.

CARBOXYMETHYLCELLULOSE

According to research at the Georgia State University Institute for Biomedical Sciences, this emulsifier alters microbes in the gut, which contributes to the risk for colorectal cancer. Dr. Viennois, head of the study identified that a key feature in colorectal cancer is the presence of altered intestinal microbes that create conditions for the tumors to develop.

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP

While it is difficult to pin our overweight and obesity problem on just one food additive, high fructose corn syrup would be it. That’s because HFCS has been linked a wide variety of serious health concerns, many of which are linked to weight gain, including: diabetesfatty liver disease, reproductive disorders, cancer, obesity, cellular energy depletion (adequate cellular energy is essential to all bodily functions), chronic inflammationlearning impairment and high blood pressure and heart disease

MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG)

This chemical is a well-established neurotoxin, meaning that it is damaging to the brain and nervous system. Most fast food companies simply list “Spices” in their ingredients as they are not required by law to actually list this harmful ingredient outright. As a result, there is no way of knowing which companies use MSG or not based on their ingredient lists. Because the ingredient is so ubiquitous it is highly likely that most fast food burgers contain MSG. Monosodium glutamate is frequently used in laboratories to create obese animals for testing. Here are two examples of this practice. Additionally, research links MSG consumption to initiating or aggravating fibromyalgia symptoms.

NITRITES AND NITRATES

The World Health Organization classified bacon and other processed meats as “Group 1” carcinogens, along with cigarette smoking and asbestos. Group 1 carcinogens are those that have what the WHO describes as “sufficient evidence” on humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer. The common link between bacon and processed meats are the presence of the preservatives known as nitrites and nitrates.

POTASSIUM BROMATE

It sounds like a harmless mineral, but don’t be fooled: this ingredient is added to most of the commercially-prepared baked goods and breads, including many “freshly-baked” breads available in grocery stores and some bakeries. It has been linked to cancer in animal studies.

POTASSIUM SORBATE

Potassium sorbate has been shown in human studies to be both genotoxic and mutagenic, meaning that it damages our genetic material which can lead to genetic mutations that are linked with disease. It is also a suspected carcinogen.

POLYSORBATE 80

These nanoparticles are associated in animal studies with brain cell death and brain inflammation and have been shown to, not only gain access to the brain, but to deposit themselves in the frontal cortex of the brain. It has been linked to liver damage when used in medications.

SODIUM BENZOATE

The Lancet also found that a commonly-used preservative, sodium benzoate, is linked to hyperactivity in children, suggesting the chemical has neurological effects. Sodium benzoate is known to form benzene in the body in the presence of vitamin C. Benzene has been linked to leukemia.

TERT-BUTYLHYDROQUINONE (TBHQ)

TBHQ is a petroleum-based, butane-like (yes, that’s lighter fluid!) ingredient used as a preservative in vegetable oil used for frying. I think it goes without saying that maybe we shouldn’t be eating lighter-fluid-like chemicals.
Keep in mind that there are many other chemicals to avoid but these are my top picks for the dirty dozen to avoid at all costs.

5 Powerful Native American Medicinal Herbs

One of the greatest gifts Native Americans have given us, in addition to their rich culture, holistic outlook and their deep connection to the planet and its resources, is their powerful system of medicine. Over thousands of years Native Americans discovered the therapeutic uses of hundreds of powerful healing herbs and orally passed down that vast knowledge from generation to generation. Here are several excellent ones:

BLACKBERRY LEAVES AND ROOTS

Of course Native Americans ate the delicious blackberries that grow particularly well in the Pacific Northwest. But, the berries weren’t the only part of the plant they used. Both the leaves and roots of the blackberry plants were also used medicinally. They used a strong tea of the roots (known now as a decoction) to address joint and tissue swelling. A tea from the leaves was used as a total body tonic to strengthen the system.

LICORICE

Native Americans have used licorice medicinally for many years, primarily as a tea, a laxative and a remedy for coughs and colds.  Licorice root is one of a relatively small group of herbs known as adaptogens that have the ability to improve overall body health, regulate bodily functions as needed and give the body a boost to help it cope with physical, mental or emotional stress of just about any kind. In other words, adaptogens help the body adapt (hence the name) to just about any stress it encounters.  The root can be made into a tea (one teaspoon of chopped dried root per cup of water) that is boiled on the stovetop for 45 minutes to an hour. Licorice root should be avoided by people with high blood pressure, kidney failure or those using heart medications. It should be discontinued after a few weeks.

MULLEIN

Some tribes of Native Americans would burn and smolder the leaves of this herb and recommend inhaling the smoke to soothe asthma and chest congestion. Mullein is an excellent herb for a wide variety of respiratory conditions, such as coughs, whooping coughs, emphysema and asthma. It is used by many herbalists in tea or tincture form. To make a tea, use one to two teaspoons of the dried herb per cup of water, infused for at least 10 minutes. Drink one cup three times daily.

WILD GINGER

Cherokee made a tea from the root of the wild ginger plants for a variety of digestive complaints as well as an expectorant to expel mucus from the lungs. Since wild ginger may be difficult to obtain, fresh ginger available in most grocery stores can act as an excellent substitute. Boil a 2 inch piece of root, coarsely chopped in a quart of water for about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain and drink one cup three times daily.

YARROW

Fresh leaves of the yarrow plant were crushed and applied to open wounds and sores to stop excessive bleeding, a practice still in use. Diluted fresh juice from the yarrow plant is often diluted in water and drunk to help heal stomach wounds and internal bleeding. Consult with a qualified practitioner of Native American medicine or an herbalist to use yarrow for this purpose.

Everyday Items That Could Contain Lead

Contaminated water is not the only way we are exposed to lead. This toxic metal lurks in a wide variety of products that we’d otherwise think were harmless.
One exposure one time isn’t going to cause a problem, of course, especially at very low levels. But repeated exposures over time from multiple sources could create a threat, especially to young children whose brains and organs are still developing, and to pregnant and nursing women. Here are some of the most common—and least expected—ways we may be exposed to lead on a daily basis.
Paint – Lead used to be added to paint, both what we used to paint our homes inside and out, and also the paint that was used in offices, schools and industrial buildings. The use of lead-based paints for homes, children’s toys and household furniture was banned in the U.S. in 1978. But lead-based paint is still on walls and woodwork in many older homes and apartments, reports the Mayo Clinic. Most lead poisoning in kids results from them eating lead-based paint chips.
Household Dust – Homes that have lead-based paint on the walls, doors and window frames often have lead-contaminated dust. Kids wouldn’t eat dust en masse, but they’d pick it up on their hands when they crawl around on the floor. It can also get into their food, and anyone can inhale fine lead-tainted dust particles.
Water Pipes – Even if the source of the water isn’t contaminated the way it is in Flint, Michigan, the pipes and plumbing fixtures in your home could be soldered with lead, and that can release lead into tap water.
Imported Canned Food and Imported Hard Candies - Though lead solder is banned from canned food produced in the U.S., it is still used when food cans are made in some other countries. Lead can also be found in wrappers used on imported candy.
Toys – Imported toys may contain high lead levels that are especially dangerous for the kids who play with them and might chew on them. Blocks, dolls and action figures may be painted with lead-based paint, and little metal pieces may be held together with lead solder. Cheap toys sold in vending machines and large volume discount stores are often contaminated as well, reports the New York Department of Health.
Traditional remedies – Lead is a naturally occurring metal that comes out of the earth’s crust, so remedies made from some herbs could be contaminated. The Mayo Clinic warns against using azarcon or sea coral, which is a Hispanic remedy for upset stomach and other digestive ills; litargirio or litharge, a powder used as a deodorant in the Dominican Republic; ba-baw-san, a Chinese herbal remedy for babies suffering from colic; and daw tway, a digestive aid used in Thailand that contains high levels of lead and arsenic.
Soil – Lead paint and dust can settle into the soil surrounding a painted building, then get easily picked up when it’s walked on or when kids play in it. I was shocked to discover high lead levels in the yard where my kids played because the garage next door had been painted, sanded, repainted and sanded many times over. All that dust and flaking paint settled right in my garden and yard!
Pottery, ceramics, china or crystal – Glazed terra cotta pottery often contains lead. It’s beautiful, but shouldn’t be used for food. China and crystal may also be made with lead. If you make pottery or stained glass or refinish furniture, the products you use could also contain lead.
Eyeliner and lipstick – Kohl is a traditional cosmetic used as a dark eyeliner. It also may contain very high levels of lead. Be wary if you use kohl that is imported from the Middle East or India. Studies have been finding lead in lipstick for years, reports Mother Jones. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found lead in 61 percent of products tested.
Venison and other wild game – People can be exposed to lead by eating wild animals that were shot and killed with lead shot and lead bullets. “Recent research indicates that small lead fragments are often present in venison from deer harvested with lead bullets,” reports the New York Department of Health. “These particles of lead can get into your body when you breathe or swallow, and lead dust can get on your food and other items that you eat, drink, or put in your mouth.”
Vehicle batteries and other industrial uses – The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that approximately 804,000 workers in general industry and an additional 838,000 workers in construction are potentially exposed to lead, primarily as a result of the production, use, maintenance, recycling and disposal of lead material and products. Exposure also occurs during renovation or demolition of structures painted with lead pigments.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
The Centers for Disease Control offers these helpful suggestions to prevent kids from lead exposure.
If you suspect your home is painted with lead paint, do not try to remove it yourself. Use a trained lead contractor, whom you can find by going here.
Choose what you eat very carefully. Avoid imported canned food and candy and wild game unless you can somehow verify it is lead-free.
Choose cosmetics and personal care products produced in the U.S. or Europe, rather than in Asia, the Middle East or South America. You can also buy eye make-up and lipstick specifically formulated without lead. 

10 Reasons to Drink Warm Turmeric Water Every Morning

Unfamiliar with the benefits of turmeric or wondering why you should start your day with a cup of warm turmeric water?  Because turmeric is the Anti-Aging, Anti-Oxidant, Anti-Inflammatory super spice.
The key to turmeric’s healing properties is the chemical compound curcumin. Nearly 7,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles are published proving its effectiveness

10 REASONS TO DRINK WARM TURMERIC WATER EVERY MORNING

1. Fights inflammation naturally

Chronic inflammation is found to be a contributor to many common Western diseases. It turns out that curcumin is very anti-inflammatory.  It is so incredibly  powerful that it matches  and even succeeds the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs.

2. Protects your brain

Cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s are often linked to decreased levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone. Researchers have discovered that curcumin positively influences the levels of BDNF and may help reverse certain brain diseases or age-related decline of our brain functions.

3. Anti-Cancer Properties

Curcumin, a component of turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances that help protect your body from unstable molecules that can damage cells.These benefits are only the tip of the iceberg of what turmeric can do for you.

4. Improves digestion

Research studies have shown that eating turmeric on a daily basis  helps in releasing of bile which is believed to help in digestion of food. 

5. Protect your heart

Curcumin has shown to  prevent blood clotting, and remove plaque build-ups in the arteries. In a study published in the journal Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletinin 2011, researchers from Niigata University of Pharmacy and Applied Life Sciencesin Japan found that three weeks of supplementation with the turmeric compound curcumin significantly improved cardiac health in male rats who had been given an injection to induce an autoimmune disease of the heart.

6. Soothes symptoms of Arthritis

A small 2012 study of RA patients showed that a curcumin product worked better on joint pain and swelling than a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) called diclofenac.

7. Delays aging and improves longevity

Curcumin belongs to this group and it is one of the most potent therapeutic agents belonging to turmeric. Free radicals and inflammation are believed to play a major role in aging and curcumin affects both.

8. Helps Reverse Type 2 Diabetes.

In 2009, Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications published a study out of Auburn University that explored how supplementing with turmeric can help reverse diabetes.

9. Protects Your Liver

Turmeric, one of the most powerful foods for maintaining a healthy liver, has been shown to actively protect the liver against toxic damage, and even regenerate damaged liver cells. Turmeric also boosts the natural production of bile, shrinks engorged hepatic ducts, and improves overall function of the gallbladder, another body-purifying organ.

10. Helps Alkalize Your Body

Turmeric is a High Alkaline Herb. As you know, cancer thrives in an acidic environment, and doesn’t survive in an normal, more alkaline environment.

HOW TO MAKE TURMERIC WATER

Once the water’s warm, add turmeric and stir well. Turmeric will settle to the bottom of cup, so continue to stir the water as you drink, so you get all the benefits of the turmeric. Make sure to drink while the water while it is still warm.

10 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Mushrooms

There’s a fungus among us! With respect to your health, that’s a good thing if the fungus is an edible mushroom. Much maligned and often shunned simply for looking weird and growing in unusual places, edible mushrooms are potent medicines and a delicious addition to a healthy diet.
1. Mushrooms can help in the fight against cancer. A study in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms found that chaga mushrooms inhibited cancer tumor growth. Chaga has long been used in Asian and northern European traditional medicine for a number of ailments. The fungus grows on trees—most notably birch trees in northerly forests in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. It typically resembles a black mass on the tree trunk due to the high levels of melanin, a naturally occurring pigment that in humans protects against ultraviolet B shortwave (UVB) radiation damage.
Chinese researchers investigated the inhibitory roles of a polysaccharide extract from chaga on U251 human brain tumor cells. The extract successfully inhibited the proliferation of the tumor cells and that success increased both over time and with increased concentrations of the extract. 
2. Mushrooms can also boost immune function, according to research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Scientists wanted to determine whether consumption of whole, dried shiitake mushrooms could improve human immune function. Shiitake mushrooms are native to eastern Asia but they are one of the most common mushrooms found in the produce section due to their increasing popularity. They have a rich smoky flavor that complements many types of cuisines.
The four week study involved men and women in good health between the ages of 21 and 41 years. The authors concluded that regular shiitake consumption resulted in improved immunity, as seen by improved cell proliferation and activation and increased immunoglobulin A (also referred to as IgA) production, which is an antibody that plays a critical role in mucosal immunity. The authors also concluded that changes observed in other immunity markers suggested that these improvements occurred under conditions that were less inflammatory than those that existed before consumption of the mushrooms.
3. Reishi mushrooms, another popular choice, have been found to protect the brain and nervous system. Mexican researchers tested compounds in reishi to determine the possible anticonvulsant and neuroprotective effects of this mushroom. The study, published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, found that the mushroom inhibited seizures and reduced degeneration patterns in parts of brain, leading them to conclude that reishi offered credible anticonvulsant and neuroprotective effects.
4. Mushrooms are delicious and versatile. They can easily take the place of meat in any meal (think portabello instead of steak) and are excellent additions to soups, stews and curries. They also lend a rich flavor to gravies and obviously support a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
A wide variety of edible mushrooms can be found in grocery stores, health food stores and many farmers’ markets. Purchasing from these retailers takes the risk out of eating mushrooms because they have been harvested by knowledgeable “shroomers” who understand the difference between edible and inedible or poisonous varieties. It also gives you an opportunity to try health-enhancing mushrooms that may not be indigenous to where you live.
While wildcrafting (wandering the woods and harvesting mushrooms straight from Mother Nature) is enjoyable and fulfilling, it is best left to mushroom experts who can identify species accurately and who will practice sustainable harvesting methods that won’t damage the long-term viability of the mushroom ecosystem. If you decide you want to wildcraft mushrooms, enroll yourself in a credible, hands-on workshop with an experienced mycologist that brings you into direct contact with the mushroom varieties in your area. Relying on an illustrated book is not enough to fully understand the complex and strangely beautiful world of these fantastic fungi.

Health effects of artificial sweeteners: Where do we stand?

Sugar -- how can something so good be bad for us?
Actually, it's not, if you keep to the newest dietary guidelines recently announced by the USDA: only 10 teaspoons of sugar a day for the average person. Unfortunately, that equals just one 16-ounce bottle of regular soda.
Most Americans eat much more sugar than that -- more like 30 to 40 teaspoons a day -- and we've learned just how unhealthy that can be. Abundant added sugar is now linked to a host of health issues: obesity, chronic inflammation, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, even cancer.
To satisfy our sweet tooth, many of us turn to the fake stuff -- artificial sweeteners. There are just five approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States: acesulfame potassium (sold as Sunett and Sweet One), aspartame (sold as Equal, Nutrasweet and Sugar Twin), neotame (sold as Newtame), saccharin (sold as Sweet'N Low, Sweet Twin and Necta Sweet) and sucralose (sold as Splenda). One more, cyclamate, is widely used in more than 100 countries, but banned in the United States. 
The FDA says all five approved sweeteners are safe as long as they are used in moderation. That means no more than 23 packets a day of Splenda, Sweet One or Newtame, 45 packets a day of Sweet'N Low, or 75 packets a day of Equal.
Sounds doable. So why do so many people still consider artificial sweeteners dangerous?
Partly it's due to our suspicion of putting anything chemical or artificially manufactured in our bodies. It's also due to a long history of overly publicized, poorly designed, badly executed animal studies that the FDA now says falsely linked artificial sweeteners to cancer. Then there are recent studies (many in mice) that have raised the concern that daily consumption of diet soda might lead to a higher risk for metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes, among other concerns.
Here's a history on where we've been and where we stand on today's major artificial sweeteners. Get ready, it's a roller-coaster ride.

Saccharin and cyclamate

1879: First artificial sweetener, saccharin, is finger-lickin' good-for-you 
Russian chemist Constantin Fahlberg was eating dinner when he made an amazing discovery: The roll he'd just bitten into tasted extremely sweet. Realizing the sugary, metallic taste had come from his own hands, he rushed back to the lab to find the source. After tasting everything in sight -- not exactly good lab safety protocol -- he discovered the sweetness came from an accidental chemical reaction between coal tar derivatives (yum!), producing benzoic sulfinide.
That's one version of the story. Another account says Fahlberg's boss, Dr. Ira Remsen, was the diner who forgot to wash up before eating. Regardless, it was Fahlberg who realized the commercial viability of saccharin as an inexpensive sugar substitute that isn't metabolized by the body, has no calories and doesn't cause tooth decay. He soon applied for patents and began offering saccharin in powder and pill form as a "nonfattening" alternative to sugar.
1908: Weight-watching President Roosevelt keeps saccharin from being banned
Early in the 20th century, food horror stories like Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" start to frighten the American public. In reaction, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act in June of 1906, toprotect the public from "adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs or medicines." It wasn't long before saccharin was in the crosshairs. .
The charge was led by Dr. Harvey Wiley, chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chemical division. Wiley was well known for his "Poison Squad," a group of civil servants who were given free room and board if they would eat food heavily laced with widely used chemical preservatives, including saccharin. Wiley then studied their urine and feces samples to test the impact on the body.
Certain that saccharin was a danger, Wiley took his case to President Theodore Roosevelt. But Roosevelt would have none of it, as he was using saccharin to manage his weight. Wiley describes the President's reaction in his autobiography: "'You say saccharin is injurious to health? Why, Doctor Rixey gives it to me every day. Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot.'"
Wiley didn't give up, and he was able to get saccharin banned from use in processed foods, but direct sales to consumers were permitted. As the years went on, science couldn't find any hard evidence that saccharin was harmful, and widespread sugar shortages during World Wars I and II fanned consumer desire.
1937: Diabetics rejoice as cyclamate meets saccharin
Michael Sveda, a University of Illinois student chemist, was working with a compound called cyclamate when he discovered his cigarettes tasted like sugar (obviously he was smoking on the job). Introduced to the U.S. market in 1950 by Abbott Labs, cyclamate was initially marketed to diabetics for insulin control.
But cyclamate's biggest role was in cutting the bitter, metallic taste of saccharin. Normally added at a ratio of 10 parts cyclamate to 1 part saccharin, that preparation became the basis of the popular brand Sweet'N Low and was soon sold in millions of snack foods and diet sodas. In 1958 the FDA gave cyclamate GRAS status -- Generally Recognized As Safe.
1977: Warning: Saccharin will give you cancer, if you're a lab rat
A 1969 study found sperm and chromosomal breaks in rats exposed to cyclamates. Then a 1970 study found feeding high doses of the chemical to lab rats (5% to 7.5% of the diet) caused bladder cancer in the rodents. The FDA quickly acted, completely banning the use of cyclamate in 1970. Cumberland Packing Corp., the owner of Sweet'N Low, just as quickly switched to an all-saccharin version. 
But by that point cyclamate and saccharin were intertwined, in studies and in the public consciousness.Another 1970 study found bladder tumors in eight of 80 rats fed a high-dose mixture of the two. More research followed, finding urinary, lung, stomach and reproductive tumors. Despite warnings the studies were flawed, by 1976 the FDA announced a plan to ban saccharin.
Congress -- pushed partly by lobbyists in the food industry, partly by a public outcry against losing access to the noncaloric sweetener -- took a softer approach. Instead of a ban, Congress decreed in 1977 that any food sweetened with saccharin must carry a scary warning label: "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals."
2000: Saccharin will not give you cancer, even if you're a lab rat
Research into saccharin continued. A review study in the Annals of Oncology found over 20 studiesanalyzing the effects of high-dose exposure in rats, yet only one showed any evidence of bladder lesions. A closer look at that study discovered researchers used a breed of rat frequently infected with a parasite that would leave it susceptible to bladder cancer. 
Another set of studies looked at second generation rats and also found bladder cancer. But then it was discovered that feeding rats Vitamin C at the same levels as saccharin would also produce bladder cancer. It turned out rats have different urine components than humans, and it was those components that were interacting with the sweeteners and leading to the bladder damage. Studies done on primates found no bladder tumors, and human studies in Denmark, Britain, Canadaand the United States showed no connection either.
In 2000, Congress removed the warning label. Saccharin was OK again. But by then, several competitors had arrived on the scene and taken over a greater share of the exploding marketplace.

Aspartame

1965: Another accidental find, in many ways 'Equal' to its predecessors
Chemist James M. Schlatter was looking for an anti-ulcer drug when he stumbled upon the sweet taste of aspartame by (you guessed it) licking his finger. A mix of aspartic acid and phenylalanine, two naturally occurring amino acids, aspartame entered the growing artificial sweetener market in 1973. Today we know it as Equal, Nutrasweet or Sugar Twin.
Unlike the other artificial sweeteners, which are usually excreted unchanged, aspartame can be metabolized, so it does have minimal calories (about 4 per gram). It also has some known health concerns. It should not be used by anyone with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria or certain rare liver disorders, or pregnant women with high levels of phenylalanine in their blood, because it doesn't metabolize properly in those individuals. The FDA requires any food made with aspartame to put that restriction on the label.
1996: Charges that aspartame causes brain tumors, proven and unproven
Animal studies in the 1980s showed no cancer-causing effects from aspartame, even in high doses, and no damage to DNA. But that didn't stop a researcher named J.W. Olney and his associates from drawing a connection between aspartame use and the increasing number of brain tumors in humans, as both occurred over the same 20 years. Based on a study (later disproven) that showed 12 rats developed cancerous brain tumors after eating aspartame for two years, Olney and his colleagues proposed aspartame was the likely cause. 
Reaction was swift, with some calling for a ban on aspartame. But others pointed out the "ecological fallacy" in Olney's argument. Why not call foul on VCRs, home computers, or the hole in the ozone layer, which were also newly present during the same time period?
A case-controlled study on children with brain tumorssoon put the matter to rest, finding "little biological or experimental evidence that aspartame is likely to act as a human brain carcinogen."

The next generation: Sucralose, neotame and acesulfame potassium

1967: Another brave chemist tastes his delicious experiment
What ever happened to safe lab protocol? Yes, acesulfame potassium, also known as acesulfame K, Ace-K, or ACK, was discovered by Karl Clauss and Harald Jensen in Frankfurt, Germany, when they combined fluorosulfonyl isocyanate and 2-butene. Clauss spilled some and then (of course) licked his finger. The tabletop version is called Sweet One, but it's often used in combination with other artificial sweeteners to better mimic the "real" taste of sugar.
1976: Another one bites the sweet dust
Scientists were working with a chlorinated sugar compound in 1976 when one of the researchers decided to (what else?) taste it. Sucralose was born. It's made by replacing three hydrogen and oxygen atoms in sucrose with chlorine atoms, making it about 600 times sweeter than sugar. 
Today we know this chlorine-based sugar derivative as Splenda. As the most heat-stable of all the artificial sweeteners, it's popular with food manufacturers.
2002: The final artificial sweetener birth was planned
Unlike those of its predecessors, neotame's was a planned birth. With the market for artificial sweeteners in the billions, scientists around the world were playing with chemicals to find the next big hit. They also wanted to improve on older models: fix the bitter aftertaste and develop higher heat stability and a higher sweetness factor (so you could use less and save money).
Developed by Monsanto, the owners of Nutrasweet, neotame certainly delivered on at least two of those goals: It is heat-stable, and the intensity of its sweetness is 7,000 to 13,000 times greater than sugar. But the sweetness takes a while to develop in the mouth, it lingers longer, and it can have a licorice-like quality, so neotame is most often used in combination with other artificial sweeteners.
2005: Diet sodas cause weight gain
By 2005, millions of people were using artificial sweeteners for weight control. So it was a shock when researchers at the University of Texas found that conventional wisdom was wrong, when they analyzed eight years of data from the San Antonio Heart Study. The more diet sodas a person drank, the more likely he or she was to gain weight.
To this day, no one knows why. Was it due to the artificial sweetener? Was it something else in the soda? Does drinking a diet soda make it more likely a person might order a double size burger and fries? As several reviews point out, it remains a riddle.
2012: Artificial sweeteners probably safe, but some lingering health concerns
Studying the effects of specific artificial sweeteners is a challenge in today's world, as many soda and food manufacturers create mixtures of sweeteners to mimic sugar and make their products taste unique. So it's hard to tease out which of the sweeteners might be a problem. 
But studies continue to find concerns that bear watching. A 2008 study found drinking more than two servings of diet soda a day doubled the risk for kidney decline in women. A 2012 study suggested a possible connection between diet sodas and an increased risk for vascular events. If you use a ton of sweetener -- more than 1680 milligrams a day, and that's a lot -- you could have a somewhat higher risk of bladder cancer. And several studies have discovered that daily consumption of diet soda may be linked to metabolic syndrome -- a sort of prediabetes -- and Type 2 diabetes, perhaps because it alters people's gut bacteria.
Oh, and for the record, a 2013 review says there is still evidence that diet soda helps with weight loss.
2016: Those pink, blue and yellow packets are probably fine (for now)
So where does this leave us? The FDA feels you can be pretty darn sure that a moderate dose of the artificial stuff won't give you cancer. If you're a heavy consumer --and that's a lot of sweetener -- that's another story.
As for connections to kidney or cardio problems and weight loss (or gain), stay tuned. We're sure more studies proving (and disproving) those concerns are on their way.