About Sugar Alcohols
Sweeteners known as sugar alcohols have around half the calories of ordinary sugar, and various of them are artificial and added to processed foods, but others are found naturally in various fruits and vegetables.
Sugar alcohols are included in a lot of products that are labeled “sugar-free” or “no sugar added”. These names may appear in the ingredient list:
- Hydrolysates of hydrogenated starch (HSH)
Food manufacturers frequently blend artificial sweeteners with sugar alcohols to enhance the sweetness of their products. Replace sugar and other higher-calorie sweeteners with sugar alcohols if you’re attempting to lose weight.
In addition to having fewer calories, sugar alcohols prevent cavities, which is why they are found in mouthwash and gum without added sugar. When utilized in high quantities, sugar alcohols also produce a cooling effect that complements mint flavors effectively.
Sugar alcohols can be found in a lot of low-calorie and sugar-free goods, such as pudding, ice cream, cakes, cookies, icing, energy bars, and sweets and jams. Furthermore, sugar alcohols aren’t alcoholic despite their name.
These are the common types:
Eight varieties of sugar alcohols are permitted for ingestion by humans, as was previously stated.
Xylitol, erythritol, and maltitol are the three sweeteners that most closely resemble conventional sugar in flavor, therefore you’ll encounter them more often than other sugar alcohols.
The flavor, calorie count, and physiological effects of sugar alcohols vary.
Because xylitol tastes so much like sugar, it is one of the most widely utilized sugar alcohols.
It is frequently found in sugar-free mints, chewing gum, toothpaste, and other oral hygiene products.
The sweetest of all sugar alcohols, xylitol contains roughly 40% fewer calories than ordinary sugar. Although most people can take xylitol well, consuming it in large amounts could cause some stomach issues.
Another sugar alcohol that is thought to have a great flavor is erythritol.
It has only 5% of the calories of sugar but 70% of its sweetness. Since erythritol does not significantly enter your big intestine, it does not have the same adverse effects on digestion as the majority of other sugar alcohols.
Rather, the majority of it is taken in by your small intestine, distributed throughout your body, and finally eliminated unaltered in your urine.
Sorbitol tastes chilly and has a smooth texture.
With roughly 60% fewer calories, it has 60% of the sweetness of sugar. It’s a typical component of sugar-free meals and beverages, such as soft candies and jelly spreads. When you take less than 10 grams, it has very little influence on your blood sugar and produces very little in the way of stomach problems. If you eat more than 20 grams, nevertheless, it could result in digestive problems like diarrhea and stomach ache.
Regular sugar and maltitol have a fairly similar texture and taste. It has about half the calories of sugar while being 75–90% as sweet.
Maltitol does not have the same effect on blood sugar or insulin levels as sugar because, like other sugar alcohols, it is poorly absorbed by the small intestine and does not enter your bloodstream as quickly.
Additional sugar-based alcohols
Other sugar alcohols that are frequently included in certain food items are as follows:
- hydrogenated starch hydrolysates
How They Operate
Sugar alcohols are poorly absorbed by your small intestine, which limits the amount of calories that enter your body. However, because sugar alcohols aren’t fully digested, eating too much of them might cause diarrhea, bloating, and gas. Foods containing sorbitol or mannitol are labeled with a warning that consuming large amounts of these foods may cause them to function as laxatives.
Verify the Label
Look for sugar alcohols on the Nutrition Facts Label on the product’s packaging to determine whether it includes them. Under Total Carbohydrate, it displays the grams (g) of total carbohydrates and sugars as well as the percentage daily value (%DV) of total carbohydrates per serving.
Although it’s not required, food makers may list the number of grams of sugar alcohol per serving on the label. The word “sugar alcohol” may be used generally, or a specific name, such as xylitol, may be given. However, manufacturers must specify the amount per serving if a statement regarding the health consequences of sugar alcohols is included on the label.
Some more possible advantages of sugar alcohol are worth mentioning.
Could enhance oral health
One well-researched consequence of eating too much sugar is tooth decay.
Sugar is fermented in your mouth by specific bacteria when you eat or drink sugary things. The tooth enamel’s protective layer is subsequently eroded by the bacteria as they grow and release acids.
On the other hand, sugar alcohols such as erythritol and xylitol have the potential to prevent tooth decay.
That’s one of the primary explanations for their widespread use in chewing gum and toothpaste.
Xylitol has been extensively researched and is widely recognized for its positive impact on dental health.
By lowering the production of plaque, blocking tooth demineralization, and halting the growth of dangerous germs, xylitol improves dental health. According to studies, erythritol may lower the risk of cavities and have comparable benefits on dental health.
Could benefit diabetics
Most sugar alcohols are a sensible sugar substitute for people with prediabetes and diabetes since they have little to no effect on blood sugar levels.
To understand how long-term sugar alcohol consumption impacts the general health of individuals with diabetes, more research is necessary.
Could improve digestive health
Certain sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, may encourage the growth of Bifidobacteria and other good bacteria in the stomach. Nonetheless, further human study is required to evaluate the impact of sugar and alcohol use on gut flora.
Here are a few Cons:
Before using sugar alcohols in your diet, you should be informed of their minor drawbacks.
The primary issue with sugar alcohols is that, particularly when ingested in high quantities, certain of them can have adverse effects on the gastrointestinal tract in both those with and without digestive disorders including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Most of them go to the big intestine where they are broken down by gut bacteria because your body is unable to digest them.
This is why consuming a large number of sugar alcohols in a short amount of time may cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
For instance, most individuals who take in less than 10 grams of sorbitol won’t have any serious digestive problems—gas and bloating are the most common side effects. However consuming more than 20 grams can result in serious digestive problems, such as discomfort and diarrhea.
It’s better to stay away from drinking excessive amounts of other sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, as these can also cause symptoms.
Furthermore, some sugar alcohols—also referred to as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, polyols, or FODMAPs—such as sorbitol and mannitol.
These are the kinds of carbohydrates that your stomach finds difficult to absorb, which can cause gastrointestinal distress in certain individuals.
All sugar alcohols, save erythritol, should be avoided by those who are sensitive to FODMAPs. Erythritol is generally well tolerated and not regarded as a high FODMAP component.
Dogs are poisonous to xylitol
Dogs are extremely poisonous to xylitol, even though people may tolerate it well.
Dogs’ bodies confuse xylitol for sugar when they consume it, causing them to produce excessive quantities of insulin.
Insulin causes canine cells to begin removing sugar from the blood. Low blood sugar and other adverse effects, including potentially catastrophic liver failure, may result from this.
Keep xylitol out of the reach of your dog(s) or simply avoid buying it.
It seems that xylitol is the only substance that may cause this reaction, and it exclusively happens in dogs.
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