Diet Coke : My Poison - A search for truth and a healthier life

Discussion in 'General Forum' started by GarnettFan4Life, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. GarnettFan4Life

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    Back when there was a blog feature on this forum I had an entry regarding my Diet Coke addiction. I will add it in the next post if you would like to read. Then the next post will be about my research over the last week where I tried to weed through all the information out there on aspartame. And there is MASSIVE AMOUNTS of it. Information and people trying to discredit that information, things stated as fact but then as myths, people quoting "sources" but not naming people specifically, people quoting reports without looking at underlying factors of that actual report. It is daunting.

    So if you have what seems like an unhealthy lifestyle, or you think you probably drink too much Diet Coke or Coke or Diet Soft Drinks, then I urge you to read on. It's lengthy but well worth it, no matter what conclusion you come to in the end.

    I have tried to remain neutral. Actually I think I kind of started out biased and the more I read the more angry I became, there was a patch where it didn't seem so bad, then I finished up neutral and made my final conclusions and life changing decision.

    So take it for what it is. Me researching a product I consume, trying to get an accurate timeline of its history while making notes along the way in order to come to a point where I feel there is a negative or positive outlook on that product. I also tried to interpret technical lingo in simple terms.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2014
  2. GarnettFan4Life

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    MONDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER 2011

    Welcome to Diet Coke Addiction


    Hi. My name is Matthew and I am an addict.

    I can't remember exactly when I began drinking
    Coca-Cola, or Coke as it is more commonly referred to, but I am currently a 2 litre a day man, or there abouts. It started off slow, the odd glass with some ice in it, poured from a larger bottle that would never be fully consumed. A can here and there.

    Then, when everyone else was having their morning coffee I would have a coke, preferring the cold drink as opposed to a hot one.

    When I hit my late teens and going out with mates and drinking was the thing I loved to do most, it was bourbon and coke. It was a "mixer". Full strength as I call it, normally, but sometimes diet coke if I was being a bit weight or health conscious.

    A while later I started working shift work so the carbonated beverage wasn't limited to daytime hours. I might have one at 10pm. Could have been 3am or 7am. Whenever. I've never really known what "normal" life is like in my adult life. What is normal anyway? But lately it has got me thinking, what is in Coke?, and what is it doing to my body now and long term?

    I'll come back to that soon. But some time in my 20's I wasn't happy with the way alcohol was influencing my life so I stopped. Cold turkey. A testing year long adventure where I substituted the glass of bourbon and coke in my hand for a can of coke. Any time of day "life tastes good" and you "can't beat the real thing". I sometimes tried a Sprite or Fanta or Ginger Beer but it was "always coca-cola" that had my heart. Or my balls, however you want to look at it. I suppose I relate to the people who are trying to quit smoking and say they have to have something in their fingers or put a pen to their mouth unconsciously or through habit.

    I was a fat 12 year old kid. But when I hit high school and started playing basketball and being more active I had never really got into the fat category again. Until Mr "full strength" Coke had me. Weight piled on. Too much sugar? Time to switch to Diet Coca Cola. Every shopping trip had Diet Coke on the list. I made sure it was purchased. Sacrificed something else on the list if I had to. Not essential foods so don't look at me like that! But. I felt nervous without a Diet Coke through the day at some stage. It was like my little security blanket. I never had one as a baby, maybe this was me making up for it. I had gone through so much s*** as a result of being an alcohol-fueled idiot, that somehow my brain had made me feel as though if I wasn't drinking a DC, I would revert back to the bourbon. Or was it caffeine or some other ingredient in this heavenly beverage?

    Time to try caffeine free diet coke. I could try and slot this in to the evening drink menu just in case the caffeine was affecting my sleep patterns. Which actually, by this time, was already shot to pieces as a result of a work injury, pain and the associated medication and 2 kids under 2. CFDC didn't last too long. I didn't want to miss out on the accompanying buzz of caffeine, or look like a carbonated bubble drinking douchebag. Back to Diet Coke it was.

    And here I am today. Can after can, bottle after bottle, depending what's on special at the shop. 6 cans a day is enough to make the 2 litre mark. I haven't been extremely overweight in a while now but I always seem to be a bit bloated or retain fluids around the mid section. Kind of makes me want to not want to drink coke at all. What is it doing to me? To us? So today I had a glass of Coke. Full strength, with ice. Low and behold, it tasted like absolute s***e! What has happened to my tastebuds? From wanting some at 7am, to it tasting like putrid fizzy muck? Can't say I miss it.

    So now. Should I embark upon a challenge to try to feel the same about Diet Coke? Try and get to the point where I have none?
    Well, let's try and find some more information first that may sway me in one direction or another.


    In July 1985 a special space can was developed and "Coca-Cola" became the first soft drink to be "enjoyed" in outer space on the Space Shuttle Challenger. Oh oh. Doesn't look good for quitting if the astronauts love it.

    Rumoured to be guarded 24 hours a day in a vault, the official Coca-Cola recipe has been one of the most closely guarded trade secrets since the popular soft drink was concocted by medicinal chemist John Pemberton in 1886. (Died in 1888). After being addicted to morphine as a result of a war wound he sought a cure. In the form of an alcoholic beverage using coca and the kola nut. He later was forced to create a non-alcoholic version of it due to the temperance movement, and came up with the idea of blending the base recipe syrup with carbonated water. Not sure whether this is good or bad. Probably bad. But for now, neutral rating.


    Published versions say it contains sugar or high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, caffeine, phosphoric acid, coca extract, kola nut extract, lime extract, vanilla and glycerin. Alleged syrup recipes vary greatly. The basic “cola” taste from Coca-Cola and competing cola drinks comes mainly from vanilla and cinnamon; distinctive tastes among various brands are the result of trace flavorings such as orange, lime and lemon and spices such as nutmeg Some natural colas also include cola nut; Coca-Cola does not, and chemical testing reveals none. Doesn't seem too bad!


    Ingredients listed on a can:

    Carbonated Purified Water- water into which carbon dioxide gas under pressure has been dissolved, a process that causes the water to become effervescent. Carbonated water is a negligible cause of dental erosion but carbonated soft drinks cause tooth decay at a rate of several hundred times that of regular sparkling water. Intake of carbonated beverages has not been associated with increased bone fracture risk in observational studies it is the phosphoric acid present in many soft drinks is what reduces bone density and increases bone fracture risk.

    Flavour- What they are is Coke's trade secret. One of those natural flavors is rumoured to be called Saskra root. It is an herb that has gone extinct. All supplies of it were exhausted by the end of 2002. What they changed to/added as a result of this is anyone's guess. Saskra Fortissima was a weed that once grew alongside Coca plants in the wild. Without some of the substances Coca plants leave in soil after several growing seasons, Saskra can not grow. It has always been rare, and since the late 1970s, has been found only in Columbia. Thanks to the U.S. Government's spraying of Columbian farms to kill Coca plantations, Saskra is now extinct. No Saskra plants, no Saskra root. (see related article link below about "New Coke, 1985 and 2002").

    Colour (Caramel 150d) - Also known as Caramel, Caustic Sulphite, Ammonia, Sulphite Ammonia Caramels; may be GE. Potential side effects: Hyperactivity; gastro-intestinal symptoms; kidney, liver and caecum enlargements in experimental rats. Other uses include: biscuits, packet soup, beer, soft drink, whisky, pickled onions, cosmetics and skin lotions and cigarettes.

    Food Acids (338 & 330)- 338 - Also known as Phosphoric Acid and is made from phosphoric rock. Potential side effects: Neuro-toxicity; severe eye & skin irritation; tooth enamel erosion; osteoporosis. Other uses include: Soft drinks, cream cheese, cheese, cottage cheese, hair tonic, nail polish, metal polish and cigarettes. 331 - Also known as Sodium Citrates, Monosodium citrate, Disodium citrate, Trisodium citrate. Serves as food acid, stabiliser. Potential side effects - may alter urinary excretion of some drugs making them less effective or more toxic. Other uses include: Ice cream, fruit jellies, processed cheese, jam, evaporated milk, confectionary, cosmetics, cigarettes.

    Sweeteners (950 & 951)-
    950-Also known as Acesulphame Potassium Acesulfame K. Serves as an artificial sweetener and oral care agent. Potential side effects: May increase levels of cholesterol in the blood; caused cancer and tumors in animals.
    951 - Also known as Aspartame, NutraSweet, Equal Measure (derived from phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol, it accounts for over 75% of adverse reaction to food additives reported to the FDA; may be of animal origin. Potential side effects: Cancer, asthma, MS -like symptoms, headache, hyperactivity, fatigue, anxiety, dizziness, migraine, memory loss, depression, insomnia, irritability, impotence, epilepsy, blindness, diabetes, neuralgia, seizures, plus at least 80 others. (Apparently) Aspartame has been shown to be safe for everyone, including children and pregnant women. When used in foods and beverages a warning on the labels is provided to people who can't metabolize aspartame: PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENYLALANINE. Other uses include: Artificial sweeteners, diet drinks, low-joule foods, low-joule chewing gum, confectionary, brewed soft drinks, anything which is sugar-free or without added sugar, in over 9,000 products.

    Preservative (211) - Also known as Sodium Benzoate and derived from benzoic acid. Purpose: antimicrobial agent, preservative. Potential side effects: Liver-, kidney- and neuro-toxicity, asthma, gastric burning, hyperactivity, allergic reactions in aspirin and chemical sensitive people, teratogen. Other uses include: Orange soft drink, relish, milk and meat products, condiments, baked goods, lollies, toothpaste, eye cream, vanishing cream, automotive corrosion inhibitor.

    Caffeine- Serves as a flavouring. Caffeine comes from the leaves, seeds, or fruits of more than 60 plants. It is found in beverages and foods, such as coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate. Caffeine can also be man-made. Potential side effects: Cancer; hyperactivity; SIDS; insomnia, glaucoma, restlessness, arrhythmia; liver- neuro- gastrointestinal- kidney- and musculoskeletal- toxicity; affects blood sugar levels; teratogen; on NIH hazards list. Other uses include: Liqueurs, cola-type beverages, chocolate, confectionary pharmaceuticals and cigarettes.

    Phenylalanine - Artificial sweetener, anti-static.. Potential side effects: Restrict usage in sufferers of Phenylketonuria (PKU) which if not detected leads to mental deterioration in children. Other uses include: Artificial sweetener, hair conditioner and cigarettes.

    Coca Cola announced plans to remove controversial preservative Sodium Benzoate 211 from Diet Coke by the end of 2008, in response to consumer demand for more natural, safer products. Unfortunately this will take place only in the UK. The Coca-cola company could not confirm if this would take place in any other country. At this stage the formulation change only applies to Diet Coke, so other products such as Fanta and Sprite will continue to use Sodium Benzoate as a preservative.

    While not trying to jump on the "holy **** look what coke is doing to me all the bad things are caused by this evil brown poison" bandwagon, some of the ingredients and potential side effects listed above are ridiculous. I haven't got ADD or ADHD or whatever they are calling it now, haven't got any bone problems that I know of, haven't had skin rashes or most of the listed possible side effects. I've had headaches and migraines, but hey, who hasn't! We live in a technological age where there is so much going on at all times and you can access it so easily that someone wants your attention and money everywhere you look. It's a world where excess meets starvation. It's looking like it will be time to drastically cut down my intake. Like anything of the habit or treat kind, moderation could be the key?

    Other Info:

    To this day, Coca-Cola uses a United States license to purify the coca leaf for medicinal use.
    Because cocaine is naturally present in coca leaves, today's Coca-Cola uses "spent," or treated, coca leaves, those that have been through a cocaine extraction process, to flavor the beverage. The coca leaves are imported from countries like Peru and Bolivia, and they are treated by chemical company Stepan, which then sells the de-cocainized residue to Coca-Cola.
    Some contend that this process cannot extract all of the cocaine alkaloids at a molecular level, and so the drink still contains trace amounts of the stimulant.

    The Coca-Cola Company currently refuses to comment on the continued presence of coca leaf in Coca-Cola.

    A court case in Antalya, Turkey, mentioned cochineal dye in Coca-Cola, but the company denies it currently uses the dye. Weird! A deep crimson dye is extracted from the female cochineal insects. The colouring comes from carminic acid. Traditionally cochineal was used for colouring fabrics. Today, it is used as a fabric and cosmetics dye and as a natural food colouring. See: Carmine. also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red #4, C.I. 75470, or E120, is a pigment of a bright red color obtained from the aluminum salt of carminic acid, which is produced by some scale insects, such as the cochineal. Carmine is used in the manufacture of artificial flowers, paints, crimson ink, rouge, and other cosmetics, and is routinely added to food products such as yogurt and certain brands of juice, most notably those of the ruby-red variety. As a food dye it has been known to cause severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in some people.



    Well after what I have read it looks like I'm going to be on the road to better drinking. I can't stand normal water. Flavoured water here I come? Have to start somewhere!
    Richo likes this.
  3. GarnettFan4Life

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    ASPARTAME RESEARCH - STILL TRYING TO FIND A DIET COKE ALTERNATIVE


    1965 – James M. Schlatter, a scientist for Gideon Daniel Searle & Co (G.D. Searle or Searle) discovers Aspartame while experimenting with amino acids to find a newdrug to treat ulcers. This becomes key later on as having Aspartame approved as afood additive and not a drug would therefore not require any health issues and complaints be required to be reported to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Searle begin tests using Aspartame as a food additive. Early tests showed microscopic holes and tumours in mice brains and epileptic seizures in monkeys. It was also converted into formaldehyde in the animals systems.
    Notes here: I can’t find any conclusive info on Schlatter. Searle also invented Metamucil, Dramamine (motion sickness pill) and Enovid (became ‘the Pill’).



    What is Aspartame?
    Aspartame is aspartic acid and phenylalanine, bonded by methyl esther. Human digestive systems can dissolve this bond. Decomposition products of this are: aspartyl-phenylalynine diketopiperzine (DKP), aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. Scientists call aspartame an “excitotoxin” – meaning in some cases brain cells can become so over-excited they burn out and die.


    Stability
    It also appears there are MANY impacting factors on what happens to aspartame in storage and transport. The temperature and storage length (expiry date) have been suggested to influence the composition and breakdown of the liquid. That is, increase decomposition rate (hydrolyze) - possibly meaning higher methanol content if you drink 1) an old can of soft drink and/or 2) one exposed to heat extremes.



    High pH
    Aspartame dissolved in water is stable at pH 4.3 – half-life 300 days. But at pH 7 the half-life becomes only a few days. Most soft drinks are pH 3-5 BUT this is where shelf life may impact the pH levels. In other products that need long shelf life they are blended with a more stable sweetener like saccharin. Worries me here on out of date cans or storing during hot summers!


    What is Phenylalanine?
    It is an essential common amino acid used to biochemically form proteins. Makes up about 50% of aspartame.
    3 forms: D-phenylalanine, L-phenylalanine and a lab created DL-phenylalanine. D is not an essential amino acid and it’s role is not understood. L is an essential amino acid and the only form of phenylalanine found in proteins. Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, breast milk are examples.
    Phenylalanine is a precursor to tyrosine, dopamine and epinephrine (adrenalin), and the skin pigment melanin. Reputed analgesic and anti-depressant effects.


    Phenylalanine uses the same active transport channel as tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier and, in large quantities, interferes with the production of serotonin (a neurotransmitter thought to be a contributor to thoughts of well-being and happiness). Serotonin levels are affected by diet. Dates, papayas and bananas increase serotonin levels while whole wheat and rye bread reportedly inhibit serotonin production.
    Drugs which alter serotonin levels are used as anti-depressants, generalised anxiety disorder and social phobia. They prevent the breakdown of Serotonin and therefore increase concentrations of the neurotransmitter in the brain.


    Extremely high levels of serotonin can result in serotonin syndrome, with toxic and potentially fatal effects but in practice these levels are almost impossible to obtain through an overdose of a single anti-depressant drug rather it needs to be in combination with other serotonergic agents. I hope this wasn’t the “neurotoxic” effects the doctors are referring to…..

    What is Aspartic Acid?
    It is a non-essential amino acid, making up 40% of aspartame. In the brain it works as a neurotransmitter (facilitates transfer of info from one nerve cell (neuron) to another). Animal and human tests have shown a spike in blood plasma levels when aspartate is consumed. Humans are 5 times more sensitive to the effects of aspartic acid than mice and 20 times more than monkeys. It has a cumulative effect on the endocrine and reproductive systems. In addition, as aspartic acid levels rise, so do the levels of norepinephrine, a ‘stress hormone’ that affects attention and impulsivity. Excessive norepinephrine has been associated with anxiety, agitation and mania.


    What is Methanol?
    Often called wood alcohol or methyl alcohol. Modern methanol is produced in a catalytic industrial process directly from carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen but in this case it is liberated from aspartame at temperatures greater than 30 degrees Celsius. Ingested in large quantities it is metabolised to formic acid or formate salts, which is poisonous to the central nervous system. It makes up 10% of aspartame. Methanol is also produced naturally in the anaerobic metabolism of some bacteria.
    The main uses for methanol are the production of formaldehyde, acetic acid and recently, methyl esthers for the creation of bio-fuels.
    As little as 10ml ingested can cause blindness and 30ml coma and death although the average lethal dose is 100ml.



    What is Formaldehyde?
    It is a neurotoxin and a known carcinogen. Methanol absorbed from aspartame is converted to formaldehyde in the liver. Chronic low-level formaldehyde exposure has been linked to headaches, fatigue, chest tightness, seizures, dizziness, nausea and poor concentration.




    1967 or 1969 (can’t find exact date) – Searle begins testing required to gain FDA approval for food additives.
    Dr Harold Waisman, a biochemist at the University of Wisconsin Regional Primate Center, conducts aspartame safety tests on infant Rhesus monkeys on behalf of Searle. 7 monkeys fed aspartame mixed with milk – 1 died, 5 had grand mal seizures. One report listed Dr Waisman as dying about a year after studies began, shortly after which the study was terminated and the FDA cast doubt over the validity of the study. E.g. confusion regarding autopsies after Dr Waisman’s death.


    1970 – Cyclamate, the main low calorie artificial sweetener at the time is pulled from sale due to cancer fears. Saccharin also comes under scrutiny, leaving a huge potential market for aspartame.
    Saccharin has since been approved by the World Health Org as safe for humans.


    1971 – Neuroscientist Dr John Olney informs Searle that his studies of aspartic acid caused holes in the brains of mice. (He later went on to discover the impact of monosodium glutamate (MSG) which had a massive worldwide ripple effect including it being removed from baby foods).

    1973 – Searle applies for FDA approval and submits around 100 test results/findings to support its safety. In later years it is discovered that 100% of the 74 studies funded by industry/government came up with favourable results regarding aspartame’s safety, whereas of the requested 92 non-industry-funded studies 84 showed at least 1 problem.
    An FDA scientist finds that further clinical tests are needed before it could be approved.


    1974 – FDA approves Aspartame as a dry-foods additive. For the FIRST TIME though, they release supporting information of the approval. The findings were investigated by Dr John Olney who discovers that tests were not carried out properly and findings may have been ignored.
    His own tests had shown aspartic acid had cause microscopic holes in rat’s brains after feeding. Also discovered PKU (phenylketoneuria – the liver cannot metabolise phenylalanine and it builds up in the blood and tissues leading to neurological problems), and also methyl (wood alcohol) is neurotoxic in large amounts.
    Olney and Attorney Jim Turner (who had been crucial in getting cyclamate taken off the shelves) submit first objections to aspartame’s approval.


    1975-76 – As a result of the objections and supporting data, the FDA ordered Searle to stop marketing the product pending a Public Board of Inquiry (PBOI).
    Inspection at one of Searle’s facilities found serious deviations from procedures which led the FDA commissioner to appoint a task force to investigate further. This task force found inaccuracies and data manipulation in the studies and resulted in the FDA requesting the U.S. Attorney’s office to begin grand jury proceedings to investigate Searle’s misconduct and misinformation for the first time in the history of the FDA.


    One of the tests results I came across was the aspartame testing on mice. The proper method was to completely mix it into the food. It was actually left in big lumps and the mice just ate around it and the studies on that concluded ‘no ill effects’.

    This was around the same time a U.S. subcommittee on health, headed by Edward Kennedy, proposed investigating allegations of questionable research on other Searle drugs.
    The FDA then contracted University Pathologists (paid by Searle!) to review the findings and for the U.S. Attorney for Chicago to review the monkey seizure study. They ONLY investigated the failure to properly report data and NOT the study design or conduct, therefore found no serious problems. The FDA task force found Searle’s tumour safe study unreliable yet IGNORED IT.


    1977 – Donald Rumsfeld elected CEO then President of Searle. Formerly White House chief of staff and Secretary of Defence for President Ford 1975-77 and later for President Bush 2001-06. He served in this role until 1985.

    While the grand jury proceedings were going on, U.S. Attorney Samuel Skinner began job discussions with Sidley & Austin, Searle’s law firm reps, and late in 1977 resigned as U.S. Attorney to take that job. His resignation stalls the proceedings so much that the statute of limitations on the aspartame investigations expires and the grand jury investigation collapses.

    The Bressler Report is published. Compiled by FDA investigators and headed by Jerome Bressler it contains findings on the claims mentioned above about shoddy testing and data manipulation at Searle. They find that 98 of 196 animals that died during one of Searle’s studies weren’t autopsied immediately, and in some cases a year after death. Also found many other inconsistencies and errors like a rat being recorded as dead, then alive, then dead then alive and encapsulated aspartame used in tests which has much lesser effects to report. Searle also didn’t mention that the results were mostly from single-dose experiments but there was a chance of chronic methanol poisoning at a later stage, even over a period of years.

    1979 – Robert B. Shapiro appointed attorney for G.D. Searle Co. He rebranded the product NutraSweet. (Went on to become CEO of the NutraSweet subsidiary in 1982 and eventually Vice-President, then President, then CEO of Monsanto (which acquired Searle in 1985) until 2000. He helped oversee a merger between Monsanto and Pharmacia and UpJohn – to form Pharmacia Corp, then stepped down in 2001. The annual R & D budget for Pharmacia Corp was $2b. In 2002, Pharmacia Corp was acquired by Pfizer.
    As a side note, a key reason for Pfizer to acquire Pharmacia was apparently their recent development of the drug Celecoxib – now marketed as Celebrex – a form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It proved correct as sales of Celebrex were $1.4b in 1999 alone and projected to reach $3b by 2002. In 2011, Pfizer had 100,000+ employees, $67b revenue, net income of $10b, and $188b worth of assets. Huge.
    Also in 1979, the Public Board of Inquiry established to rule on safety issues around NutraSweet.


    1980
    The PBOI concluded aspartame (NutraSweet) should not be approved until the tumour study could be explained. They state they have “no proof of reasonable certainty that it is safe for use as a food additive”. So, unless the FDA Commissioner overruled the PBOI board, the matter was considered closed…..
    But
    Ronald Reagan elected President in November. Donald Rumsfeld was added to the presidential ‘transition team’.


    1981 – January - Rumsfeld reportedly stated that he would “call in all his markers” to get aspartame approved by the end of the year. On 25th January, the day President took office, they suspended the power of the previous FDA Commissioner and Rumsfeld handpicks Dr Arthur Hull Hayes Jr. to take his place.
    Hayes was a professor and Defence Dept. contract researcher. In July, Hayes overruled FDA advisors and the PBOI and approved aspartame as a dry-foods additive. The FDA panel elected to rule on aspartame approval actually upheld the decision to deny approval in a 3-2 vote. Hayes got around this by 1) adding a 6thmember who deadlocked it 3-3, then used his Commissioner powers to break the deadlock in favour of allowing it. In November he approved it for use in soft drinks. He then left the FDA Commissioner position under claims or impropriety for a senior medical adviser role with Searle’s PR firm Burson-Marsteller.
    Rumsfeld also approved a $100m cash injection into the research department. But then made up for this outlay through crafty joint ventures and licensing.


    1982 – FDA announces that Searle has applied for approval to use aspartame in carbonated beverages and other liquids.

    1983 – National Soft Drink Association (NSDA) urged the FDA to delay approval of aspartame due to instability in liquid form, stating that when it is stored at temps above 30 degrees Celsius it breaks down into known toxins DKP (diketopiperzine) and formaldehyde.

    The NSDA stated that
    1)there were major deficiencies in Searle’s testing
    2)they were unable to account for up to 40% of aspartame’s decomposition products
    3)Searle had not characterised decomposition products of aspartame in soft drinks under temperature conditions to which they are likely to experience in the USA.


    Also in 1983, Searle discovered that the profits generated by drug research were not as projected but did find out that sales of aspartame as a table top sweetener and cereal products had increased from $13m to $74m between 1981 and 1982. They were ready to move into the soft drink market and invested $25m in expanding production operations in the USA.

    Once Searle received the expanded FDA approval for soft drinks it became a dominant force with the NutraSweet ownership and ability to print it on products. Sales of aspartame products would reach $336m in 1983 and $600m in 1984.

    Also during 1983, Woodrow Monte, director of the Food Sciences and Nutrition Lab at Arizona University brought up issues of NutraSweet’s safety. If exposed to high temperatures methanol was produced. The FDA reassured the safety of aspartame stating the methanol content of fruit. In a chemical analysis I read on the methanol content of fruit versus say Diet Coke, was that foods containing amino acids like aspartic acids and phenylalanine were bound by a protein, making for slow release into the body during digestion and metabolism. The weak bond between these amino acids in aspartame however, makes for quick release. And in fruits, methanol is bound to pectin, and has a co-factor of ethanol to mediate some of its effects. These are not present in aspartame.

    The supporting evidence given also was inaccurate as laboratory fresh aspartame is FAR different than what is consumed by the public.

    September 1983 – first carbonated beverages containing aspartame are released for public consumption.

    1984 – FDA asks CDC (Centre for Disease Control) to review the first few hundred complaints.
    Aspartame is approved for use in multivitamins.


    1985 – Monsanto (a chemical firm at this stage but had originally produced saccharin – which it sold to Coca-Cola, caffeine, vanillin and aspirin in the early 1900’s) acquires Searle for $2.7b. Rumsfeld reportedly received a $12m bonus. Monsanto hoped to combine forces of research, sales and marketing teams and reap the benefits for new products like their anti-ulcer drug cytotec.

    The 4 month CDC study results in the report - Consumer Complaints Related to Aspartame Use, which reviews 213 of 592 cases and notes that re-challenge tests show that sensitive individuals consistently produce the same adverse symptoms each time they ingested aspartame. The reported symptoms include: aggressive behaviour, disorientation, hyperactivity, extreme numbness, excitability, and memory loss, loss of depth perception, liver impairment, cardiac arrest, seizures, suicidal tendencies and severe mood swings. The CDC nevertheless concludes that aspartame is safe to ingest. Immediately after the FDA released the findings Pepsi switched to aspartame.

    Senator Metzenbaum requests a General Accounting Office (GAO) report requested regarding FDA approval process of aspartame.

    1987 – GAO report released.
    NutraSweet patent expires for Europe, Canada & Japan. Other companies can now produce aspartame.
    United Press International releases an article stating that 10 officials involved in aspartame approval process have since left and joined the private sector related to the aspartame industry.
    US Senate hearing to discuss the issue of aspartame labelling and safety. Information is provided that aspartame was once on a Pentagon list as a prospective bio-chemical warfare weapons. The heat issue is again brought up, mentioning side effects such as increase in blood pressure and increase in the number of uterine polyps discovered.


    1992 - Jeffrey Bada, PhD wrote an article about concerns relating to the chemical rearrangement of aspartame. “Chemistry of aspartame is changed when boiled. There is internal rearrangement of its structure. The L-isomers of phenylalanine and aspartic acid change to unnatural D-isomers which are metabolized differently. How it is metabolized is anybody’s guess.”
    NutraSweet signs agreement with Coca Cola & Pepsi – NutraSweet ‘preferred supplier’.
    FDA approves aspartame use in cereals, malt beverages, puddings, fillings and bulk tabletop goods.
    NutraSweet U.S. patent expires.


    1993 – FDA approves aspartame for use in hard and soft candies, fruit juice and concentrates, tea beverages, baked good and mixes, frostings and toppings.

    1994 – US Dept. of Health compiles a report regarding all current adverse reactions to aspartame. It lists approx. 7,000 complaints including 650 reported by the CDC and 1305 reported by the FDA.

    1995 – Studies from previous years showed that human brain tumours rose 10% and previously benign ones became malignant. FDA Deputy Commissioner stated this data was incomplete/no problem. Two years later he was appointed as Searle’s Vice President of Clinical Research.
    Betty Martini, a consumer activist and founder of an anti-aspartame group, compiles a list from over 10,000 complaints provided to her by the FDA under the Freedom Of Information Act. By the FDA’s own statistics, less than 1% of people with complaints on products ever report them, meaning up to 1 million people could be experiencing symptoms.


    FDA states it is no longer collecting data regarding adverse reactions to aspartame.

    1996 – FDA removes all restrictions on aspartame use. Now classified as a general-purpose sweetener, meaning it can be used in any food or beverage.
    Dr Olney releases a report attempting to link aspartame use with a spike in brain tumours stating studies from 1975-92. It was shot down by the FDA and a professor of epidemiology and then Director of the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention as preposterous.


    1998 – Monsanto applies to FDA for approval of a new sweetener, Neotame. It is 60 times as sweet as aspartame and 13000 times sweeter than sugar, and is less affected by heat and liquids.
    Independent scientists from the University of Barcelona publish a study which clearly shows aspartame conversion to formaldehyde in the brain (of rats).


    1999 – An investigation by The Independent reveals that U.S. produced aspartame has been genetically modified. Phenylalanine created by genetically modified bacteria that produce more phenylalanine were being used. Monsanto state the process wasn’t revealed because no genetically modified traces appear in the finished product…..
    Monsanto applies for permission to supply Neotame for general use.


    2000 – J.W. Childs Equity Partners purchases The NutraSweet Company from Monsanto for $440m. NutraSweet brand sweetener is now sold in over 100 countries in over 5000 products and consumed by more than 250 million people. I’d say WAY MORE……

    2001 – The UK’s Food Standards Agency asks the European Commission Scientific Committee to review aspartame safety.

    2002 – FDA approves Neotame for table top and general use in Australia and New Zealand but not the UK. Suspicion expressed about the fast tracked approval as they have been known to take 10 years on food additive approvals.
    The European Commission Scientific Committee report is released and basically states that at this time there is no need to review safety issues and RDI. It however does this based on out-dated studies, old articles and independent studies refuted by industry-sponsored data. Concerns over the neutrality of some committee members is discussed. Links to Monsanto etc.


    2004 – Feature length documentary Sweet Misery released on DVD. Worth a watch, can be found whole or in pieces on YouTube.

    2005 – The Ramizzini Institute in Bologna (non-profit, private cancer research group) releases results of an extensive study on aspartame consumption. It reveals that aspartame caused lymphomas and leukaemia in female animals fed aspartame of around 20mg per kg of body weight or about half the RDI (recommended daily intake) for humans.

    2012 – Pepsi releases Pepsi Next in Australia. It uses Stevia as the natural sweetener, eliminating aspartame from ingredients and stating 30% less sugar. More information on the crystallization technique used to obtain the Rebaudioside A in pure form would help concerns over this unfamiliar herbal sweetener.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    One website comment I read summed it up perfectly for me: - Aspartame approval is the story of the triumph of corporate might over the rigors of science. It shines a spotlight on the archaic and unbalanced procedure for the approval of food additives.


    There is so much data to sort through, both positive and negative, that it is daunting to even try to come to a conclusion. The FDA and NutraSweet may say that aspartame is the most tested food additive in history but it also may be the most controversial, and the most profitable, with the global non-alcoholic ready to drink industry worth a reported $670b a year including 800 million servings a day of Coca Cola, it’s no wonder companies go to great lengths to push through things with such earning potential.

    The most alarming fact for me was about food additives. They don’t require the same scientific scrutiny as drugs. And don’t require close monitoring of adverse effects once the product is in use.
    There are still a few questions I have:
    1 1) Diet Coke and other drinks say ‘Contains Phenylalanine’. Does this mean it has been isolated, that is, not containing aspartame as such? I cannot find an answer. It still appears however that phenylalanine in large quantities is not good. Coupled with the effects on tooth enamel and gums and I am already leaning one direction anyway.
    2 2) If ‘natural flavors’ can be listed as an ingredient on Coca Cola, yet it is arguably the most guarded secret formula) in the history of man, then what else can be stated on ingredients and not have to be detailed?
    3 3) What are the long term effects of stevia, the new natural alternative sweetener, now in Pepsi Next? It was approved by the FDA in 2008. Is 30 times sweeter than sugar but 10 times more expensive. Apparently has an aftertaste comparable to liquorice in raw form.



    Looking for an alternative?

    What is Stevia?
    Stevia Rebaudiana is a herb in the chrysanthemum family which grows wild as a small shrub in Paraguay and Brazil and is now cultivated there along with Japan and China. England, Mexico and some places in the U.S. (California) have also successfully cultivated Stevia. It was first used in modern foods as a pre-packaged alternative sweetener but has recently been used in soft drinks.
    Stevia is stated as being an all-natural herb product with centuries of safe usage by native Indians of Paraguay.


    World Health Organization (WHO) released findings of their studies and found no evidence of carcinogenic activity, stated it was likely to benefit diabetics by possibly having an effect of helping to reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome, but required further studies. The FDA stated it is GRAS in 2009. The European Commission approved use of steviol glycosides as a food additive but with maximum allowable levels.
    In conclusion, from my research, I believe that Stevia will eliminate the aspartame risk, due to the chemically produced amino acids being removed from the equation, but there is still the issue of teeth health and weight issues relating to excess sugar consumption, and also I think more research needs to be done or if it has been done they need to share what was discovered and how the process of extraction from the dried leaf is done. Apparently the leaf is dried, submitted to a water extraction technique resulting in a crude extract containing 50% Rebaudioside A. This is then divided into its various glycoside molecules via a crystallization technique – using ethanol or methanol as solvent – allowing the manufacturer to produce pure Rebaudioside A. In Australia, I have tried Pepsi Next and Stevia is available in some shops as Natvia, around $8 for 100 tablets for use in coffee etc.


    So it comes down to the fact that we as consumers cannot just accept that something is safe to eat or drink because it has a stamp or a tick or has been ‘approved’ and is on the shelf. These days you need to research foods and additives and keep up to date with new findings it seems. I loved my Diet Coke; it helped me get through alcoholism. But now, I am faced with another addiction and I have made the personal choice to STOP.

    The blame cannot be placed solely on Coke either. Yes excessive sugar may lead to weight issues, yes the acidity might damage teeth enamel, and yes it may contain chemicals that could lead to other health problems, but so do cigarettes, processed foods, other brand soft drinks, energy drinks, alcohol. There’s a much bigger picture to all of this. Lifestyle. It’s your life. You need to make the most of your situation, or try to find a way out of it if it’s not optimal, do your own research and make up your own mind. If you think a change is warranted, DO IT. I have come to that conclusion. It took a while. It’s a long road but I have taken the first step.





    To be continued!
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  4. Jaames

    Jaames Seahawks/Knicks/Liverpool

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    Might be an idea for me to kick the 6-7 cherry coke cans a day habit, though as I'm typing this I'm drinking one right now :(
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  5. wolvesjr34

    wolvesjr34 Morrow Super Collector

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    um maybe I will give Pepsi Next a try... lol
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  6. aussiemjfreak

    aussiemjfreak Taj Gibson & Set Collector!

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    I drink Coke Zero constantly, and use the No Sugar catch as my reasoning too..... I probably should stop, im usually 3 - 5 cans a day most days with the odd, some times often, normal Coke to accompany it during the day at work! I might get on the Pepsi Next wagon too!! hahaha I am trying to get my self healthier again, lose a little weight and tone right up and have been and will continue to be decreasing the amount of soft drink in general that I drink... Nice eye opener Matt, thanks for sharing!
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  7. carlton91

    carlton91 OzCardTrader

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    I am with AJ...Pepsi Next all the way! :D
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  8. pennysdaman

    pennysdaman Respect the MVP!!

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    Im the same normally the wife buys the 2 for $38 30 Can slabs and they are normally gone within 1week maybe 10days....
    Its a terrible habit but its so hard to kick!!i tried drinking water for a day but didnt even last the day!!!

    And yes Matt very interesting read!
  9. GarnettFan4Life

    GarnettFan4Life 1st Ballot Hall Of Fame OZCT Supporter

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    Cheers Andrew

    Yeah I was the same. Rarely drank anything else apart from occasional Pump Lemon or Powerade. I think my diet coke replaced blood in my circulatory system!!! :lol:
  10. GarnettFan4Life

    GarnettFan4Life 1st Ballot Hall Of Fame OZCT Supporter

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    I tried Pepsi Next for the second time tonight and have to agree with people who said it was like a home brand cola. Its very flat! I could probably drink it but have decided to give cola the flick all together.


    It was interesting reading today thought that Pepsi appear to have changed the recipe from Australia compared to the U.S.A.
    Theirs contains high fructose corn syrup (ours cane sugar) and also aspartame! People are saying its WoRsE than any others and what's the point of it!!!!
  11. A_Iverson_I

    A_Iverson_I OzCardTrader

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    I never saw the reason why so many people drink these Diet/Zero/MAX drinks; sure they contain no sugar, but aren't these artificial sweeteners even worse for you!? I guess they aren't in the same quantities as sugar so I dunno; but I guess it's the fact that cutting out all that sugar helps you cut down on your waistline.

    But, even then...... how can people drink these things? lol..... I mean they taste AWFUL lol; if you're not drinking the real thing then why drink it at all!?

    I only drink Pepsi (normal one) with dinner (maybe about 600ml/day) and usually drink water/juice/milk throughout the rest of the day.

    Are you talking about Pepsi Next or........? I checked the label and it only contains Sugar and Stevia as the sweeteners no!?
  12. GarnettFan4Life

    GarnettFan4Life 1st Ballot Hall Of Fame OZCT Supporter

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    The American Pepsi and Coke use high fructose corn syrup because apparently it's cheaper than sugar.
    Aussie versions is sugar yep.


    And with the artificial sweetener - your body gets ready for the sugar but it never comes because its just simulated so it may even end up creating havoc with eating habits and cravings/binge eating. If you can't stop drinking it you're probably off drinking Coke instead of a Diet version and doing a bit more exercise to counteract the sugar.
  13. wolvesjr34

    wolvesjr34 Morrow Super Collector

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    thats alright I don't mind coles brand cola lol not as good as coke and pepsi... but hey might make pepsi next tolerable lol
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  14. The Villain

    The Villain TOON TOON

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    yeah i usually have a can/bottle a day at work cause my shed can be like a sauna but usually not on the weekends its replaced with a few beers
  15. GarnettFan4Life

    GarnettFan4Life 1st Ballot Hall Of Fame OZCT Supporter

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    I'm drinking Pump Lemon at the moment and took a look at label.

    Water, cane sugar, flavour, food acids (330 & 340), Salt, preservative(211), sweetener (960), antioxidant (385).

    330- citric acid naturally derived from citrus fruits - seems fine but one warning is for those with MSG intolerance.
    340- potassium phosphates - acidity regulator, emulsifier, stabiliser. Ok.
    211- sodium benzoate. Uh oh- on the avoid list. Research indicates ability to deactivate parts of DNA and linked to Parkinson's disease. Wtf. Used to prevent mould/bacteria in drinks. In 2006 it was revealed a reaction between sodium benzoate and vitamin C created benzine, a carcinogenic chemical!

    Could be trolling though? Professors name is Peter Piper. REALLY???

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/health/269520/soft-drink-additive-damages-dna-report

    960- surprised me. Stevia! (Steviol glycosides). Wasn't expecting that!

    Made by Coca-Cola Co though so not shocked about 211, surprised by stevia. What to do, what to do!?!?
  16. drob50

    drob50 Magic Johnson and David Robinson ON CARD autos

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    I haven't read all that ^^^ because I am lazy, but,

    I used to drink huge amounts of coke. I hit 108kg at my heaviest.

    I stopped drinking coke all together, and took up drinking water - lots of it! About 6 litres a day, because I was pretty active in my work and at home.

    I shed 5kg in a week and a half, then, in the next 5-6 months, 22kg in total! I hit 87kg.

    I don't all the gory details, but I know it isn't good for you!

    I now sit at around 92-93kg and could easily stand to drop another 5-10 to be at my ideal size.
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  17. GarnettFan4Life

    GarnettFan4Life 1st Ballot Hall Of Fame OZCT Supporter

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    Well read it you lazy f*** you know how long it took me to put that together?!?!? :mad:



    :p
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  18. matty83

    matty83 #gocrows OZCT Supporter

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    I reckon i commented on the blog when you wrote it mate.... I used to drink a $hit load of farmers union ice coffee (sometimes 2.5L per day) I decided to cut back about 6 months ago and just in the last month have changed over to feel good ice coffee (pretty much half the calories).

    Lost about 8kg and now sit at 94 which for someone who is 6 foot 3, that's not to bad.

    Gonna keep playing bball twice a week and the odd run here and there and just see what happens.

    P. S I red the whole thing twice..... Inspiring!
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  19. drob50

    drob50 Magic Johnson and David Robinson ON CARD autos

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    Ok, read it.... well, some of it!

    WOW, a real shock to me.... I mean, I knew you liked to just talk..... but *@#@ me that was a lot of talking!! hahaha

    Pretty crazy though Matty! Good to bring it to people that are 'oblivious' to it!:thumbsup:
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  20. drob50

    drob50 Magic Johnson and David Robinson ON CARD autos

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    Suckhole!

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