You may wish to check out the article, "The Shocking Story of How Aspartame Became Legal." There are also source links such as the Aspartame and Brain Damage and the Aspartame Leukemia Link. The article explains that on one side we have medical evidence that suggests we should avoid using it and on the other side we lean on the FDA’s approval that suggests it is safe. You're given a history of how aspartame came into existence, how it came to be accepted as safe by the FDA, and for what purposes it has been used.
Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Manufacturers are able to produce their sweet foods and market them as “low calorie” so they can market and appeal to millions of people on “diets.” Another alternative could be a pinch of stevia, if the stevia is pure stevia and not mixed with dextrin, maltodextrin, or other sugars. See, "Stevia Information - Questions & Answers about Stevia."
That article gives a recipe for making stevia, "A liquid extract can be made from the whole Stevia leaves or from the green herbal Stevia powder. Simply combine a measured portion of Stevia leaves or herbal powder with pure USP grain alcohol (Brand, or Scotch will also do) and let the mixture sit for 24 hours. Filter the liquid from the leaves or powder residue and dilute to taste using pure water. Note that the alcohol content can be reduced by very slowly heating (not boiling) the extract and allowing the alcohol to evaporate off. A pure water extract can be similarly prepared, but will not extract quite as much of the sweet glycosides as will the alcohol. Either liquid extract can be cooked down and concentrated into a syrup".
The FDA's position on Stevia is somewhat ambiguous. In 1991, citing a preliminary mutagenicity study, the FDA issued an import alert which effectively blocked the importation and sale of Stevia in this country. Ironically, this was the year that a follow-up study found flaws in the first study and seriously questioned its results. Stevia does not raise blood sugar levels.
What's the story on various artificial sweeteners?
In the Sacramento-Davis regional area, a University of California, Davis author has written a book on the story of artificial sweeteners. According to an October 17, 2010 news release, "Artificial Foods," from UC Davis, American Studies scholar Carolyn de la Peña, author of the book, Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda, can discuss how artificial sweeteners have had positive and negative impacts on American culture.
Her research has focused on the cultural side of health and the industries created to deliver these sweeteners. She has written about taste and pleasure, health knowledge and consumer habits as well as our ideas about the relationship between sweetness and nature. The book's author is Carolyn de la Pena, American Studies Program, UC Davis. Also see, UC Davis experts: food, beverages and culture.
What Happens When You Consume a Beverage, Food, or Supplement Containing Synthetic Sweeteners?
What happens when you drink some of those zero calorie synthetically-sweetened sodas? First, one of the artificial sweeteners used in some sodas is metabolized to phenylalanine, asparitic acid and methanol, which is then metabolized into formaldehyde. Wouldn't you rather drink plain carbonated water flavored with a bit of stevia instead and some vegetable juice or fruit juice for coloring? Check out the book, Excitotoxins - The Taste Kills, Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, by neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, M.D. and Dr. H.J. Roberts.
What about the methanol? Well, it's the chemical that in the past some scientists used to cause blindness in experimental animals, according to the article, "Dying for a Diet Coke," published in the October 2010 issue of Dr. Sherry Rogers' Total Wellness newsletter (page 4).
So why would you want to drink something that turns into formaldehyde in your body when you know that's the chemical used to preserve dead animals and plants, corpses, and anything organic scientists want to preserve in a jar or on a morgue slab. Medical students know the side effects of breathing fumes from formaldehyde as they work with it in research labs.
Formaldehyde damages genes. That chemical also can contribute to depression by lowering the neurotransmitters in your brain. Your mood can change as the chemical balance in your brain is changed in some people. It's also addicting to some people as well. Maybe you'll have a seizure from being around formaldehyde or heart irregularities. Aren't you getting tired of these synthetic sugar-taste-alikes? You never know which way the formaldehyde will affect you once your body metabolizes methanol in various ways.
Why don't manufacturers of various supplements such as some chewable vitamins and sodas and diverse processed foods simply leave out the synthetic sugars? You don't need everything to taste sweet. Supplement manufacturers might use mint as a flavor instead of sugar or synthetic sweeteners. Why get addicted to sweet taste if it acts like an environmental toxin in your body? See the book, by author, Christine Hoza Farlow, Food Additives: A Shopper's Guide To What's Safe & What's Not. Also check out the news release "Laura Tarantino of the FDA Office of Food Additive Safety concludes after a review of the study data that the low-calorie sweetener [aspartame/NutraSweet/Equal] is not a carcinogen."