Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
What do studies of epidemiology show about the health effects of diet soda?
A: Most diet drinks include aspartame, commonly known as nutrasweet. This chemical stimulates the brain to think the food is sweet. It brakes down into acpartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol (wood alcohol, also used in lacquer thinner) at 86 degrees—remember, your stomach is probably at 98 degrees). Another breakdown bi-product, diketopiperazine (DKP) has been shown to cause brain cancers in laboratory rats.
An article put out by the University of Texas study found that aspartame has recently been linked to obesity as well. The process of stimulating the brain causes more cravings for sweets and leads to carbohydrate loading.
My recommendation is to drink juices; even these should be watered down in a 1 to 4 ratio (one part juice to four part clean room temperature water). The best drink is, of course, water.
Try this: Crush some fresh basil and mint leaves, put them in a large carafe, add room temperature water, and let this mixture sit for half of an hour. Then add one tablespoon of honey and mix. This is an aromatic and refreshing drink to accompany any meal.