In this article:
- Why sugar alcohol sweeteners cause digestive problems and excessive gas.
- Which fruits contain the highest levels of sugar alcohols.
- How to limit gas causing sugar alcohols and a much healthier sweetener.
Sugar Alcohol Sweeteners
Artificially created sugar alcohol sweeteners, like sorbitol, erythritol, isomalt, lactitol, mannitol and maltitol deserve special mention as premier intestinal gas promoters. These sweeteners are combinations of sugar and alcohol molecules that are poorly broken down during digestion.
While sugar alcohols do occur naturally in some fruits, they seem to cause far more digestive problems as food additives. They are used as sugar alternatives in confectionery, sugar-free gum, many processed foods and drinks and also usually sweeten toothpaste.
Unfortunately, they are also known to have a laxative effect and cause diarrhea, bloating and flatulence at doses as low as 10 grams, likely lower for sensitive individuals.
There are also reports of gastrointestinal problems with other artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame. All in all, these substances are best avoided.
Stevia is a far healthier choice and will not feed intestinal bacteria or cause gastrointestinal distress. This page has why it is such a healthy alternative to both high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
Sugar Alcohols in Fruits
Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, can be found in some fruits. These are often the same fruits that cause digestive issues due to high fructose content, but the worst offenders are still covered ahead.
While the sugar alcohols in these fruits are much less concentrated than in the artificial sugar alcohol sweeteners above, they are still a potential cause of bloating and bad gas. This is especially true of fruits that appear both on this list and the previous high fructose list.
High Sugar Alcohol Fruits:
Low Sugar Alcohol (and Low Fructose) Fruits:
- Honeydew Melon
Limiting Sugar Alcohols
Fruits like apples, pears, cherries and watermelons rank highly for both fructose and sugar alcohols. This doesn’t mean you can never enjoy them again, just that they should be eaten with caution if you’re still experiencing bloating, abdominal pain and excessive flatulence regularly.
Skipping them for a while in favor of the low fructose and low sugar alcohol fruits on the list above is a good idea, at least until they can be tested for your own individual tolerance level to their sugar alcohol content.
Products with artificial sugar alcohols are best avoided when you are suffering from digestive problems. Stevia is far superior to artificial sugar alcohols and it’s recommended to use healthy stevia glycerite as your sweetener of choice instead of sugar, high fructose corn syrup or any artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
- Avoid sugar alcohol sweeteners like sorbitol, erythritol, isomalt, lactitol, mannitol and maltitol. Check labels which will usually state that this product may have a laxative effect. Use stevia instead.
- Limit fruits high in sugar alcohols on the list above until your digestive system is functioning well. You can replace them with any fruits from the low sugar alcohol list.
Photo credit: jacqueline