MS or disability: Sugar versus aspartame and other sweeteners

Please note: The current Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is fast moving, and reactions to it seem to update not just day-by-day but minute-by-minute. Obviously, this site was not designed to bring you the very latest developments in a ‘breaking news’ story such as this. Instead, this site will continue to include news and opinions relating to major events, policy changes, and so on.


Now, we all know that too much sugar, refined sugar that is, is not good for us. From expanding waistlines to diabetes and heart disease we are urged to cut back. Sugar has a bad reputation. It’s a far cry from the 1950s, the decade of my birth.

These days, all the experts seem to agree we need less sugar in our diets. And, as someone with MS, a disability meaning I use a wheelchair, and a heart problem, a balanced diet is advised.

An outing to the supermarket, today, brings you face-to-face with “sugar free” this and “no added sugar” that, as though it is a poison.

There are even suggested limits. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are for men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons); and for women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).

Then there are artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame. Note “artificial”, for that read man-made or laboratory developed, NOT natural.

What’s more, there are known problems with a couple of diseases, namely phenylketonuria (PKU) and tardive dyskinesia (TD). According to Healthline, for anyone with PKU, aspartame is highly toxic. And it may precipitate the uncontrolled muscle movements of TD.

Anyone taking medications for schizophrenia should also avoid aspartame.


A small selection of available sweeteners.

I have to wonder if the sweetener is proven to be incompatible with some diseases, it – or another sweetener – could also be bad for people. It’s just not proved yet.

Multiple sclerosis is on a list of diseases being researched for a link with aspartame but, so far, the sweetener has not been shown to cause MS or worsen its symptoms. However, research has suggested it may increase depression and provoke migraines.

A little bit of what you fancy

My own policy is to avoid artificial sweeteners, wherever possible, but not to the exclusion of all packaged food and drink that contains it. Life is too short to worry about every single food scare that comes along. I believe that all things in moderation is a good motto to live by, after all, as the old proverb says: “A little of what you fancy does you good.”

All this was prompted on my part by having developed more of a sweet tooth lately. Many years ago, I stopped adding sugar, or sweetener of any kind, to tea and coffee. Health benefits were incidental, it was my preferred taste.

Then, after moving to Spain in November 2015, sugar became an essential part of my cup of coffee. Spanish coffee, to my taste, seems stronger and more bitter than in the UK. Sugar became the answer.

Tea, now I am back to adding sugar.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that my tea seemed to be a bit unpleasant, so I added sugar – problem solved.

It seems that I am developing a liking for sweet foods , but why? I even get the occasional and unfulfilled yearning for things like chocolate.

Diabetes can be ruled out, as I have been tested

So, is it linked with MS, my age, having moved to Spain, or simply this lockdown having the knock-on effect of limiting my usual diet? Seriously, I have no clue.

Tell me, has your desire for sweet food and drink increased lately?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Please note that being born in the UK, all my posts, are written using British English spelling.

For example:

Centre                              not center (except in names, Centers of Disease Control)                  Colour                              not color                                                                                                                      Diarrhoea                       not diarrhea                                                                                                  Haematology                not hematology                                                                                Haematopoietic          not hematopoietic

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

* * * * *

Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Ian is not a doctor, so cannot and does not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely his own unless otherwise stated.


4 thoughts on “MS or disability: Sugar versus aspartame and other sweeteners

  1. Eating sugar is something that causes us to want more sugar not less. If I go cold turkey I can resist biscuits etc but if I have one then I’m set up for the day to want other sugary things. I try to have a protein based breakfast eg eggs rather than sugary cereal to control this. Some people are more prone to this rollercoaster of sugar consumption -craving- consumption. Try going cold turkey in sugar again and you may find you don’t crave it. I suspect that just having it in coffee brought the cravings back.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have the same experiences as Gwen and definitely need to go ‘cold turkey’ now. Like you, Frank, I have been eating more sweet food since lockdown, especially chocolate! I’ve put on over a stone in weight due to both this and reduced mobility. Being on the ‘vulnerable’ list here in the UK I’ve not seen past the end of my driveway in ten weeks! Chocolate, baking (and eating) biscuits has become my new hobby!! Cold turkey from tomorrow!! 🤞🤣 Keep safe 🌈

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s