Are sugar alcohols bad for you? This question must be playing up in the minds of all those consuming foods with sugar alcohols regularly and occasionally. Though sugar alcohol is not as sweet as sugar and has fewer calories per gram than regular sugar, it can be useful for blood sugar control, weight management, and oral health.
Sugar alcohols are found in various products, and it would be interesting to know some of them. They are:
- Chewing gums
- Baked goods
- Chewable vitamins
- Cough syrups
- Ice cream
- Soy sauce
Unlike artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols are not calorie-free, and technically they have been labeled as sugar-free. The fact is that they do have calories, and that is one of the reasons why they cannot be consumed in large quantities, but like some nonnutritive sweeteners, certain sugar alcohols have advantages.
What Are Sugar Alcohols?
Sugar alcohols are sugar with alcohol added along with it, and they end with ‘ol’. Some common sugar alcohols are Ribitol, Glycerol, Erythritol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol, etc. Since sugar consumption is on the rise and does not contribute well to your overall health, food manufacturers are looking to duplicate their products with sugar that reduces the calories and lessens total carbs. If you look at the nutrition facts label while buying food items, you will know how much sugar and alcohol are in those products and how much-added sugars are there in those items.
Are sugar alcohols bad for you? Sugar alcohols may be used as low-calorie sweeteners, and though they are sugary, they are not as detrimental as sugar. They are not alcoholic and less sweet than table sugar and are known as polyols or polyhydric alcohols.
They still can cause bloating, digestive problems, excessive flatulence, stomach rumbling, abdominal cramps, and sometimes diarrhea. Erythritol is the only sugar alcohol you can confidently say does not cause digestive problems unless consumed in large quantities.
If you look at some wellness tips, sugar alcohol, if consumed regularly, can damage your gut lining and make you more prone to intestinal disorders. They have little effect on your insulin and blood sugar levels since they contain less sugar or no sugar.
Some of the worst sugar alcohols that can cause adverse health effects are:
This polyol with the creation of 50% Glucose, 25% Sorbitol, and 25% Mannitol after hydrolysis. Isomalt gets absorbed in the small intestine, and when it comes into the large intestine it will cause excessive farts, intestinal discomforts, belly bloating, and stomach pain. That makes us wonder, are sugar alcohols bad for you?
Candies, throat lozenges, cakes, wafer biscuits, lollipops, and other low-calorie or diet-free sweets all have Isomalt. Isomalt is listed as E953 on packaged foods, and you can keep an eye for it on the packaged foods’ nutrition labels in case you have digestive problems.
Are sugar alcohols bad for you? Maltitol is one of the polyols made by hydrogenated starch and is often found in packaged and processed foods. Since it has half the calories of sugar, Maltitol is often sold as powdered sugar substitutes and marketed to those who want to lose weight. Like the rest of the sugar alcohols, Maltitol may cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems to many, and it also has a laxative effect. From a nutrition label perspective, you can barely look at Maltitol as a sugar substitute.
Frostings, cookies, chewing gums, ice cream, cakes, diet muesli bars, and foods labeled sugar-free contain Maltitol or E695. Look for E695 in the ingredients of the foods you buy in case you have excessive bloating, digestive problems, or diarrhea.
Lactitol has 40% sweetness of table sugar, and food manufacturers tend to use Lactitol a lot in their packaged food products. Many drug stores sell Lactitol as a laxative because even when consumed in doses as low as 20 gms, it can cause watery stools. Like many sugar alcohols, Lactitol cannot be digested in the small intestine. When it comes into the large intestine, it can cause bloating, abdominal cramps, intestinal cramps, and a lot of gas.
Are sugar alcohols bad for you? Unlike sugar, sugar alcohols are not said to be that bad, yet they can cause gut problems if completely absorbed by the large intestine. They are commonly found in foods labeled sugar-free and diet-free foods, processed meals, baked foods, and chewing gum.
Mannitol is usually made from corn syrup and the hydrogenation of sugars. It is found in fruits and vegetables like watermelons, peaches, butternut squashes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, celery, and button mushrooms. It is one of the worst sugar alcohols and, if consumed in large quantities can have a laxative effect on the body. Mannitol can cause abdominal cramps, bloating, and other digestive problems. If you have irritable bowel syndrome and a bad gut, it is better to avoid Mannitol.
Are sugar alcohols bad for you? Most sugar alcohols are. Sorbitol is another sugar alcohol that is used extensively as a sugar substitute in processed foods. It is projected to be healthy for its low glycemic index and calories per gram than sugar. Sorbitol is not as bad as Mannitol in terms of digestive problems, and certain stores sell it as a laxative. If you want a healthy gut, it is better to remove Sorbitol from your list of foods, especially packaged foods where it is used the maximum.
Bottled smoothies, certain breakfast cereals, and sauces contain Sorbitol. It is also commonly found in chewing gums, sugar-free jams and marmalade, sugar-free gum, low sugar wafers, cookies, and ice cream. Packaged apple, peach, plum, and pear juices can contain large amounts of Sorbitol, and if you have gastrointestinal problems, then you know what to avoid for a healthy gut.
Xylitol is the most popular sugar alcohol and is marketed as healthy sugar alcohol. This polyol is obtained from agricultural waste or fermentation of wood. This sugar alcohol has been used many times to replace sugar and helps with weight management and preventing tooth decay. Though Xylitol does not have bad side effects like other sugar alcohols, it does cause gastrointestinal distress if consumed in large doses.
Xylitol has always been packaged and sold as a sugar substitute though it can cause intestinal discomfort in many adults and children. This sugar alcohol is usually found in foods marketed as low carbs, candies, gum sweets, breath mints, jams, and jellies. Xylitol is highly toxic for dogs, so you have to ensure the foods given to dogs do not contain Xylitol.
Are Sugar Alcohols Bad for You?
Are sugar alcohols bad for you? This topic is interesting, and if you are not aware of what sugar alcohol is, this will give you information on what sugar alcohols are and whether sugar alcohols are bad for you. It is important to know the difference between sugar and sugar alcohol so that you know how they can affect you and how unlike regular sugar can be a safer option for patients with diabetes as long as they are taken in normal quantities.
You can have an upset stomach if you have large quantities of foods with sugar and alcohol. 10-15 gms of sugar alcohol intake daily is not harmful to the body. Still, according to the Cleveland Clinic, gastrointestinal problems occur since the body cannot digest sugar and alcohol fully.
Look at the sugar alcohol listed in the nutrition labels while buying a food item to be aware of the type of sugar alcohol it contains. Some sugar alcohols can also raise blood sugar levels; hence, if you want to know whether sugar alcohols are bad for you, it could depend on your health conditions. They also have a laxative effect, and many doctors even prescribe them as laxatives because they usually linger in the small intestine and ferment.
Now that you have enough information about sugar alcohol let us look at the difference between sugar and sugar alcohol. Are sugar alcohols bad for you?
- Sugar is a sweet-tasting carb, and sugar alcohol is a sweet-tasting carb whose structure resembles sugar and alcohol. If you look at the calories, sugar contains more calories, unlike sugar alcohols.
- Sugar is converted into energy once it is in the body, and sugar alcohol has a different chemical structure, and they are not absorbed by the body efficiently.
- Sugar is found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products, and sugar alcohol is found naturally in fruits like strawberries, plums, and avocados. Sugar alcohols are added to many foods like cake mixes, cereals, etc., to make them as sweet as sugar without giving the negative effects of sugar.
- Are sugar alcohols bad for you? You will know the answer by now. Sugar can cause tooth decay, while sugar alcohol does not contribute to tooth decay as the bacteria in your mouth cannot ferment it.
- Are sugar alcohols bad for you? Yes, it can affect your gut health, and for those with autoimmune disease, sugar, alcohol, and any processed foods containing them should be avoided.
- Sugar is from beet sugar and sugar cane, while sugar alcohols are found in fruits and vegetables.
Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates are used in food items like sugar alcohols and are as bad as consuming sugar alcohols. Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates are a combination of different sugar alcohols, also known as Polyglycitol syrup.
In The End
Is sugar alcohol bad for you? Sugar in any form is not good for the body, and though sugar alcohols are supposed to have almost no calories, they can be detrimental if consumed in large quantities. You can consult a good nutritionist or a dietician and calculate the net carbs you are consuming in case you are keen on changing your food patterns and staying healthy. A lower glycemic index and low-carb diet are always best to keep you healthy and fit.
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