Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I've been drinking too much alcohol in the evenings and drinking too much Diet Coke during the day. Diet Coke is starting to taste weird and I'm having trouble moderating my alcohol consumption. I'm going to go off aspartame and alcohol for 1 week and try to turn alcohol on again in moderation after a week. I think this will make me feel happier and give me more energy. If this were a controlled experiment, I wouldn't do both at the same time, but I'm pretty sure that drinking myself asleep and jolting myself awake is not very good for me.

This is probably more information than anyone really wants about my life, but I figured that if I blog it, I'm more likely to keep this promise to myself. Oh, and anyone who seems me drinking Diet Coke or alcohol during the next week can slap me around with a trout.


/me slaps you joi around with a trout

Oh, my bad. You mean only if you drank. OK, gotcha =)

Right on Joi!

But... what _will_ you drink now? Oolong cha?

Your diet coke link doesnt suprise me.....

My great uncle was teetotal and always drank Diet Coke instead of alcohol.

However, the inordinately large amount of coke (and by the sounds of it, aspartame) he drank over many years still gave him liver disease.

Coke and aspertame causes liver disease? Uh, I don't think so. There are ways to determine if something causes liver disease, but they involve studying data from large scale populations, not looking to your uncle's health history.

Joi, you should give up the alcohol and Diet Coke permanently. The alcohol, since you appear to be becoming an alcoholic, and the Coke to get rid of the caffeine and the brown dye that stains the teeth.

You tried to give up beer before, and now you're back to your old ways. You're going down the slippery slope. Try switching to Perrier--they've solved that problem with the carcinagenic solvent contamination ... I think!

Sometimes what is required is a close encounter with your own mortality to change your ways permanently.

Been there. Done that. Changed my life.

It's easier than you think, but only with enough incentive.

Search for aspartame on the web, you will find a wide range of very serious health effects (a lot of them to do particular with brain damage and memory lapses, I notice myself I find it very difficult to concentrate/remember things after drinking a bottle of the stuff). Diet Coke is extremely high in aspartame and of course in caffeine (another drug with understated side effects).

Alchohol may help you fall asleep quicker but you'll get much reduced quality of sleep what with tossing and turning all night + you'll wake up feeling dehydrated which makes you tired and lethargic. The caffeine in the diet coke further dehydrates you.

Joi, is diet coke your only source of caffeine? If so, then you'll probably be especially tired and grouchy after a week without, due to the presence of excess adenosine in your neurochemical system. And if you are anywhere near addicted, you're going to really be craving the coke, drinks or both. So you'll want to stock up on steely resolve ;-)

At least that's how it goes with me, YMMV.

Another sweetener to try is Stevia, an all natural extract from a plant that I believe is indigenous to Japan or Splenda, a sweetener made from sugar but has replaced one of the atoms in the molecule with Cl.

I have to manage my diabetes and they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

you sound just like Judy Garland.. uppers in the morning, downers at night.

Thanks for the support everyone. Was cranky at dinner and was tossing and turning all night. (I think it was the 2 venti ice coffees I had though.) I do feel more "fresh" though without alcohol in my blood. I wonder if I should try staying off of caffeine this week as well.

Allison, actually, I had promised to stay off of alcohol last time until I reached my weight limit and I did, so I didn't "break my promise" last time.

Anyway, I've done this before and the first evening is the worst. Hopefully today will be easier.

I'll be watching you, Joi.

Good luck with cutting back.

I could never stand the diet stuff and for a while I could get away with the extra calories. Now the carbonic acid and caffeine is catching up with me. I had to cut way back (my peak was 128oz/day or about 3.78 l). I try to keep it to one or two cans now, and take at least one day off all together. Bonus, is that it only adds up to about 300 cal.

To satisfy my need to have a straw in my mouth sucking up a fluid, I stick with water.


Now what to do with all those "big gulp" (64oz) cups?

Allison, you could not be more wrong. I have experienced aspartame poisoning; do a google search for aspartame poisoning, here is a quote from just one of many sites devoted to it (please note, liver disease is exactly what it DOES cause):

Aspartame consists of 50% Phenylalanine, 40% Aspartic acid and 10% Methyl ester. The methyl ester converts in the body to formaldehyde and formic acid. Formaldehyde as you may know is used by undertakers to embalm bodies and every molecule of methyl ester contributes to your pre embalmment.

Approximately 50% of the formaldehyde lodges in the liver, 30% in the kidneys and the balance in the fatty tissues and is difficult to remove.

My father has a drinking problem. You are 1000 percent ahead of him since you are concerned about the problem and trying to get help to stop.

Even though you're not an alchoholic, there are probably some alchoholics anonymous chapters near you, and they might help.

please.. don't start the AA proselytizing.

joi -- you are on the right track. the best solution for you may be moderation. track your behaivor and sleep patterns once you start drinking alcohol and caffeine again. that'll help you find the happy medium.

The Wall St. Journal (subscription req'd) has a article covering this today. Here's an excerpt:

Aspartame: The FDA never required warnings on products containing aspartame, other than a warning for phenylketonurics, people with a genetic disorder who can't metabolize part of aspartame, a popular ingredient in diet drinks.

While one study of overall trends in cancer, as well as anecdotes, connected aspartame to brain cancer, most experts dismiss such claims as invalid. "They are claims and not studies, and the findings have not been replicated," says Paul Lachance, professor of food science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. He adds most toxicology research involves doses at least 100 times that of normal serving sizes consumed by humans, and sometimes test doses are as much as 1,000-fold higher.

The FDA approved sucralose in 1998 based on more than 100 human and animal studies that tested possible carcinogenic, reproductive and neurological effects. Studies giving rats and mice the equivalent of at least 1,500 soft drinks containing sucralose a day found no cancer-causing effects, and clinical studies found sucralose caused no physical or biochemical changes in humans.

Sugar Alcohols: Sugar-free products containing sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol and lactitol can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal side effects. The FDA requires products containing 50 grams or more of sorbitol or 20 grams or more of mannitol to carry the statement, "Excess consumption may have a laxative effect." Few, if any, commercial products contain such large amounts.

And, incidentally, Saccharin's now considered safe too.

I'm not going to take a position on something I don't know much about, but anything in excess is probably not good so that's why I decided to go off of Diet Coke. I was drinking 10 cans or so a day.

Today, was MUCH easier than yesterday. Went to bed early, slept well, and am up at 4:30am ready to work. I went for a walk in the park yesterday, which was nice. (Except that my iPod broke.) I'll probably go again today.

David, if I can't quit or moderate on my own, I'll see help at AA, but I think I'm OK so far. I actually feel good right now.

"Moderation in excesses but, please, no excess in moderation." - Jean-Louis Gassee

you wrote [[ please.. don't start the AA proselytizing ]]

Nothing whatsoever wrong with AA in my book. IMHO, AA is a Very Good Thing for all kinds of folks. Whether or not the one approaches it as a lifestyle or an all-consuming personal identity -- as it is, perhaps, for some -- the basics have done a whole hell of a lot of good for a whole hell of a lot of people. AA is OK.

On another tip, joi, have you tried Splenda? It's sort of an aspartame alternative, derived from sugar. Not natural, but totally awesome and virtually indistinguishable in terms of taste from real sugar. No calories, no carbs, yada yada yada. I have become a total Splenda whore since first trying it. Tea is my caffeine vehicle of choice, and I am so splenda-dependent i carry the stuff in my purse when I travel, to avoid the nastiness of the pink stuff or the blue stuff, or sugar itself.


Oh ... an internet search will turn up claims that aspertame causes health problems?! D'oh! An internet search will turn up claims about everything from the Kennedy assassination to Area 51. The FDA (and I) are a little bit more selective in what we believe.

A couple good books to read are "Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture," by Elaine Showalter, which covers the proven-to-exist-on-the-internet "disease" of chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as other topics, and "Science On Trial: Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case," by Marcia Angell, M.D., which goes into what constitutes medical/scientific evidence/proof (hint: a few studies do not; the preponderance of all the studies comes closer).

Having said that, I don't think Joi should be chugalugging 10 cans of the stuff a day.

Allison, just because something is on the internet doesn't mean it ISN"T true, either. There are plenty of peer-reviewed studies in respected journals that validate the anecdotal evidence. In fact the only "studies" that show aspartame to be safe were funded by the companies that make it or use it in their products. Aspartame was originally developed decades ago as a CHEMICAL WEAPON. Why don't you do some research before you just dismiss this. The conversion to formaldehyde and subsequent damage to the liver and kidneys has been documented since the 1980's.

I used to work for a large soft drinks company and i can confirm that aspartame converts into methanol->formic acid->formaldahyde.
Also converts into DKP which causes brain cancer, aspartame is also addictive, destroys parts of the brain and affects vision (formaldehyde rots the optic nerve).
The soft drinks companies know this but seeing as there are no laws to stop them they sell it anyway, they know that it is addictive and this is partly why they use it.
It does not help with weightloss because it (permanently) affects parts of the brain responsible for carbohydrate balancing and so causes you to crave them.
Gun sweetened with aspartame is even more dangerous as it passes to the brain quicker and is in your mouth for longer, it is about 10 times more dangerous.
Aspartame when heated above 86f turns into free methanol, when used in tea or coffee or even if left in the sun it becomes akin to drinking meths.
Another very worrying thing is that diabetics are told to use it instead of sugar, methanol is very dangerous to everyone especially diabetics.

psychologically it clouds thinking and causes depression and physically it can cause cancer and major illnesses.
hope this helped.

It is funny because I just stumbled across this. Coincidently, I too am quitting diet coke, particularly aspartame. I was drinking about 3-4 cans per day. What is interesting to me is that I think my alcohol consumption exacerbated the side effect of aspartame. It was like a synergistic effect. The effects would be emotional mood swings, memory loss, clouded thinking, and anxiety. I have not had aspartame in about four days, nor alcohol. I will never take aspartame again, however, I will continue my use of alcohol. After another week or so of not ingesting aspartame, it will be interesting to see if I notice a healthy psychological change. I''ll post back.

hey x7, theres methanol in alcohol aswell so i guess you would still be ingesting aspertame if you continue to drink alcohol

i could be wrong tho :)