Artificial Sweeteners and psoriasis
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (brand name: NutraSweet), are quite common nowadays, and are especially useful for people with diabetes. Despite some controversy over the safety of consuming artificial sweeteners in general, aspartame is still approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In small amounts, aspartame itself is relatively harmless. However, some of its metabolic constituents after being broken down may be dangerous to one’s health. Two of these harmful metabolites in particular are phenylalanine (an amino acid), and methanol (wood alcohol).
Excess phenylalanine can build up in the body and lead to phenylketonuria (PKU). People with PKU cannot effectively break down this excess phenylalanine, and if left untreated can lead to mental and behavioral disorders. Children born with PKU have a predisposition for eczema (inflammation of the skin). For someone with both PKU and psoriasis, excessive consumption of aspartame may worsen their symptoms.
Methanol, which is simplest form of alcohol, can normally be found in the body at low levels. It is similar to ethanol (drinking alcohol), but should not be consumed due to its harmful metabolic products. When methanol is metabolized, it is converted into formaldehyde, and then is later converted into formic acid which is toxic to the body’s central nervous system. Methanol does not directly affect the condition of psoriasis, but should still be avoided for general health.