Don't worry, this post isn't about losing weight. Artificial sweeteners have come under the spotlight as a major trigger in cold sores. Many have reported that they've felt the onset of a cold sore within as little as 10 minutes after consuming one of the variants. You either love them or hate them. Most people love to hate these products and it's easy to see why with the amount of banter floating around the internet on how bad sweeteners are for you. The natural sweetener Stevia hasn't even been spared this rap.
Anyways we are not here to talk about whether they are good or bad for you, but you may have guessed I am going to talk about whether they can cause cold sores.
I came across this when I thought I had put two and two together with my investigative "prowess". I had hopped onto the sweetener band wagon (you all know about my sweet tooth) in an attempt to lose weight. I remember drinking a diet cola when I felt that all to familiar itch. I knew it, a cold sore was forming. I felt the rage build up inside of me which I let subside with a few deep breaths whilst I collected myself. I delved into the net again to see if my new diet soda could be the culprit, and lo and behold I was greeted with countless testimonies on how people have suffered the same fate when consuming their favourite sweetened beverage.
I was so angry with myself, with pursed lips and a glare that could kill, the poor little soda can was tossed into the bin half empty. I then went onto a cleaning spree and tossed anything out of the pantry that had even a wiff of Aspartame in it.
Days and months went by that I drank unsweetened, dull and uninspiring coffee in the morning. Until one day I tried a new fruit juice. I remember thinking something didn't taste quite right even though it said 100% orange juice. I read the label again and saw that it had "Lite" in italics next to it. In disgust I thought "what is this world coming to, freshly squeezed orange juice stripped of it's natural sugariness and replaced with chemicals to save a few calories". Then it dawned on me! I could almost hear the theme tune of Jaws playing in the background, I thought a cold sore was about to strike at any moment! I waited anxiously, but nothing happened. I was surprised that the stress of waiting for one did not cause an outbreak in itself! To my relief and hours later, I knew that one was not going to form.
The next day, I thought I would try my luck and add a sweetener to my coffee, nothing. No tingling sensation and most importantly no cold sore. I did this for the remainder of the week increasing my intake as I became more brave. Just a side note I'm not an advocate for artificial sweeteners and I'm pretty sure you would be better off not using them. Anyways, I started to feel a bit silly especially after telling my friends that suffered like me to avoid Aspartame like the plague!
It's not the gospel if you've read it online and my blog is not exempt
So where did this connection to sweeteners and cold sores come from? I see it happening on the internet all the time, there are so many people online that coincidences are becoming a common place (i.e. the more people that play the lottery, the more likely someone will win). From the countless testimonies I read, there were many wanting to find out if there was an association between cold sores and sweeteners. This is what I like to call a snowball affect as patterns may seem to emerge from random causes. These people like myself thought they had made a connection, comment and spread the word blowing it completely out of proportion. The fact is, the stress of thinking you may get an outbreak after consuming a sweetener is more likely to cause a cold sore than the soda you drank.
Moral of the story, don't jump to conclusions too quickly. It's not the gospel if you've read it online and my blog is not exempt. Make sure you do your own research. Trying to control our outbreaks is hard enough whilst trying to jump through hoops put in place by false rumours.
P.S. Valentines is just around the corner, I'd just like to wish everyone and their significant others a very special day :) I'll be posting about whether chocolate can cause outbreaks, and what you can do about it. Tell then!