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What Is Sugar Alcohol In Food

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How Can Sugar Alcohols Impact Your Next Ride

How sugar affects the brain – Nicole Avena

For cyclists in general, lasting energy on the bike comes down to one thing: carbohydrate intake. Its important to ensure your diet is packed with the nutrients you need to sustain your rideand that includes carbs.

So it isnt really ideal to cut back on carbs by turning to more sugar alcohols instead of the regular sweet stuff before a workout or even during a ride. Carbohydrates are the bodies quickest form of energy, so I would guide somebody away from sugar alcohols because its actually going to provide less carbohydrates than something that doesnt use a sugar alcohol. Majumdar says.

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If you overeat products with sugar alcohols, according to the University of Michigan Health, it can also cause bloatingwhich you dont want to deal with on the bike. Cyclists should be aware that sugar alcohols can have a laxative effect, Majumdar says, as the chemical is not easy to digest and can cause some gastrointestinal upset and potentially diarrhea depending on the amount you consume. For some people, Ross says, even chewing sugar-free gum will really give them that GI upset.

You dont have to toss all your sugar-free products right away though. Both Ross and Majumdar recommend trying them out before you hit the road to see how your body responds.

Possible Health Risks And Considerations

Consuming large amounts of sugar alcohols could result in gas, diarrhea, or other digestive issues. As mentioned above, sugar alcohols are not fully absorbed by the body.

For people with irritable bowel syndrome , sugar alcohols are one type of short-chain carbohydrate that may provoke symptoms.

Polyols another name for sugar alcohols are included in the FODMAPs acronym, which stands for fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. A low-FODMAP diet may help control gastrointestinal symptoms in some people with IBS.

Foods labeled sugar-free or no added sugar can be confusing to some consumers, who may believe that these foods will not impact their blood sugar. Many foods labeled sugar-free or no added sugar still provide calories, fat, and carbohydrates.

All consumers should read food labels so that they are aware of the nutritional information.

A variety of sugar alcohol types exist in nature. Sugar alcohols can also be manufactured for use in food and pharmaceutical products.

Below is a list of commonly used sugar alcohols, their sources, and their sweetness in comparison to regular sugar.


Sorbitol is found naturally in some fruits. When used to make food products, it is typically manufactured from dextrose that is derived from cornstarch.

Sorbitol tastes approximately 60 percent as sweet as regular sugar.


Mannitol is also approximately 60 percent as sweet as regular sugar.





Eat Any Sugar Alcohol Lately

If you’ve looked lately at the “Nutrition Facts” panel on a pack of sugar-free gum or candy, you might be surprised to see that it contains “sugar alcohol.” Don’t let the name fool you. These ingredients were given this consumer-friendly name because part of their structure resembles sugar and part is similar to alcohol.

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What Are The Pros And Cons Of Sugar Alcohols

There are both possible health benefits and potential downsides of consuming sugar alcohols.


  • Sugar alcohols taste sweet but provide minimal calories, which may help with weight management.

  • They will not raise your blood sugar much. This benefits people with conditions like diabetes.

  • Sugar alcohols wont promote tooth decay. Unlike sugar, many sugar alcohols can actually improve the health of teeth. This is why they are added to oral care products.

  • Some sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, serve as a prebiotic, which helps feed probiotics to support gut health.

  • Sugar alcohols are not known to contribute to conditions associated with eating too much sugar, such as diabetes and heart disease.


  • Some sugar alcohols may cause digestive upset for some people, especially those with irritable bowel syndrome . Eating them may cause symptoms like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. The exception to this is erythritol, which does not get fermented by your large intestine.

  • The sugar alcohol xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can cause serious health problems or death if accidentally ingested.

  • Like with any food, overeating foods with sugar alcohols may contribute to weight gain as they still contain some calories and carbohydrates.

Absorption From The Small Intestine

Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are usually incompletely absorbed into the blood stream from the small intestine which generally results in a smaller change in blood glucose than “regular” sugar . This property makes them popular sweeteners among diabetics and people on low-carbohydrate diets. As an exception, erythritol is actually absorbed in the small intestine and excreted unchanged through urine, so it contributes no calories even though it is rather sweet.

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Sugar Alcohols And Digestive Issues

The body cant fully digest sugar alcohols. Thats why they dont cause major spikes in blood sugars. However, this may also result in some unpleasant side effects after you eat them.

Some people notice that they experience bloating, excessive gas and diarrhea after eating sugar alcohols.3 This seems to be more common with xylitol. Research shows that the sugar alcohol erythritol is less likely to cause stomach issues.

While sugar alcohols have benefits for people with diabetes, its important to consume them in moderation. As long as you stick with a moderate intake, you can use them to help lower sugar intake as part of a healthy diet.

They May Be A Friend To Your Gut Bacteria

Recent research suggests that consuming some sugar alcohols might nudge your gut microbiota toward Bifidobacteria. These microbes may provide a range of benefits, so having a higher concentration of them in your gut could be great.

But its important to note that these possible benefits havent been replicated in people with digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome .

More research is needed to understand the different ways that sugar alcohols may affect the microbiome. But this is a promising start.

Are sugar alcohols bad for you? No they can sometimes be a good alternative to sugar. But theyre not perfect, and its still not a good idea to eat tons and tons of them. Heres why:

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Sugar Alcohols And Diabetes

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If you have diabetes, dont make the mistake of thinking you can have an unlimited amount of sugar alcohols. When it comes to measuring blood glucose levels, having too many sugar alcohols in your system can cause inaccurate results.

Theyre still carbs which means they can raise your blood sugar. Look at nutrition labels and youll see that sugar-free foods containing sugar alcohol may still have plenty of calories.

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Wtf Actually Are Sugar Alcohols

Are they some kind of sugary alcoholic beverage? Nice try, but no.

Sugar alcohols, also called polyols, are a type of carbohydrate used as low calorie sweeteners and bulking agents. But they dont actually contain sugar or alcohol.

Sugar alcohols occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, and even some grains, so they can be derived from plants. But theyre often manufactured from simple carbs like glucose or starch.

Sugar alcohols contain one-half to one-third as many calories as actual sugar. Unlike actual sugar, theyre only partially absorbed by the body and dont cause a rapid spike in blood sugar.

Theyre often used in low sugar or low cal foods and candies, so they can be a good option for people with diabetes or those watching their calories or carbs.

As for the name? It just comes from the fact that their chemical structure looks a little bit like table sugar and a little bit like alcohol. Youre not actually consuming table sugar or booze when you eat something made with a sugar alcohol.

Are these sweeteners literally a way to have your cake and eat it too? Sugar alcohols definitely have some perks that are worth knowing about.

Identifying Sugar Alcohols In Food

If you’re health-conscious, you are probably an expert at reading product labels. But what about food that contains sugar alcohol as a sweetener? Sugar has become inextricably linked to our nutrition and way of life. The decision to consume sugar on a regular basis is increasingly in your hands.

Sugar alcohols are a type of alternative carbohydrate that can cause symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome .

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Sugar Alcohols And Other Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are polyols. This term refers to chemical compounds containing three or more hydroxyl groups. Polyols can be divided into acyclic polyols , and cyclic polyols. An example of the first group is xylitol, and an example of the second is myo-inositol. In general, different functional properties have been attributed to these groups of substances, such as low caloric intake by incomplete absorption, sweeteners in diabetic diet and caries-reducing agents.

The most ubiquitous sugar alcohols are sorbitol and d-manitol, and their concentrations in some plants and plant exudates may be very high. Fruits belonging to the family Rosaceae, such as pears, apples, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, etc., contain appreciable amounts of sorbitol. Xylitol is a naturally occurring five-carbon sugar alcohol that can be found in many fruits and berries, being most abundant in yellow plums and greengages. Some research papers have documented the noncariogenic and anticariogenic effects in addition to sweetener properties, and recent studies have indicated that xylitol may have prebiotic properties and other effects on health.

Jean-Baptiste Chéron, … Sébastien Fiorucci, in, 2019

Does Sugar Alcohol Affect The Liver

Foods containing these sugar alcohols need to have their calorie and ...

It may also affect your liver. To create fat, the organ needs fructose, a form of sugar. A fatty accumulation caused by too much refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup may lead to liver damage. Even if youre not overweight, research indicate that sugar may harm your liver just as much as alcohol.

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Does Sugar Alcohol Count As Carbs

When you have diabetes, sugar alcohols may be part of a balanced food plan. Sugar alcohols, unlike artificial sweeteners, are a kind of carb that may boost blood sugar levels, but not as much as sugar. In your total food plan, youll need to keep track of carbohydrates and calories from sugar alcohols.

Which Is Better Xylitol Or Erythritol

So, which is the healthier option? According to a research published in Caries Research, erythritol may be better for tooth health than xylitol. And, unlike xylitol, erythritol is completely absorbed by our systems, resulting in less stomach discomfort. Furthermore, erythritol has no effect on blood sugar levels, but xylitol has a little effect.

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I Have No Problem With Healthy Addictions

“If addiction didn’t give me a disease, I would never be sober, I’m a real addict!” Claims the singer, adding that she sees no problem with healthy addictions, on a daily basis.

Like the addiction cultivated by her husband, former President Nicolas Sarkozy, with the bicycle.

He does 60 terminals and he comes back: no problem.

It gives him a heart of steel, at 67, it’s like he was 40, what’s the problem?

Finally, Carla Bruni insists on the satisfaction felt in a state of sobriety.

“Life without alcohol is a wonder, I don’t feel the frustration anymore, now I really got into the habit of living sober,” she concludes.

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Benefits Of Sugar Alcohols

How to Eat Less Sugar, Realistically

Sugar alcohols are important because they have fewer carbohydrates than regular sugar, and for people with diabetes, this can help with blood sugar control. Sugar alcohols also have fewer calories and can be helpful for people who are trying to lose weight. Sugar alcohols provide sweetness to foods without adding as many calories as regular sugar.

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Risks And Side Effects

Are sugar alcohols bad for you? Some people have concerns with consumption of these sugar replacements for reasons including:

  • That they are often made from GMO substances, including GMO cornstarch and corn syrup.
  • They can be hard to digest and cause digestive symptoms. They may even have laxative effects in some people. They pass through the small intestine and are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine. Some can linger in the intestines for a long time, causing discomfort.
  • They dont offer some of the same health benefits as other natural sweeteners, such as stevia .

While they are considered generally safe to consume, when ingested in large amounts sugar alcohols can can potentially cause negative reactions, especially digestive upset. Some of the most common sugar alcohol side effects include: nausea/stomach upset, diarrhea, gas and bloating.

Experts tell us that the best way to avoid side effects is to stick to a low daily limit. According to the American Diabetes Association, sugar alcohols are safe and acceptable in a moderate amount but should not be eaten in excess quantities. The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics advises against consuming more than 50 grams/day of sorbitol or more than 20 grams/day of mannitol to limit chances of experiencing diarrhea.

Are Sugar Alcohols Unhealthy

For years researchers have studied the benefits of using sugar alcohols in various products as a potentially healthy alternative to sugar and in hopes that it could manage health conditions like diabetes and obesity.

A 2015 review published in the journal European Food and Research Technology noted that sugar alcohols are lower in calories than sugar, some may not contribute to tooth decay like sugar, and they dont cause a sudden increase in blood sugars, which is a main indicator of diabetes.

In comparison to regular sugar, most sugar alcohols have about half the carbohydrates and calorie contents, says Ross. are used to reduce carbohydrates for folks that may have diabetesthose that are trying to reduce their blood sugarand theyre used to reduce calories in sweetened foods, she says. For people living with diabetes, it’s important to remember sugar-free doesn’t mean carb-free, Ross says, pay attention to the labels and check for other carbs in the product.

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In many ways, the benefits of sugar alcohols are unique to the individual. For instance, sugar alcohols can be beneficial to people seeking to lose weight because they tend to have fewer calories. But theres a catch: Its not like its a freebie and you can eat all you want of it, Ross says.

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What Do Sugar Alcohols Mean In Carb Counting

Carb counting is a type of diet usually used by people who have diabetes to help control blood glucose . The goal of carb counting is to eat a limited amount of carbohydrates at each meal because carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the blood. Carbohydrates come from grains, starches and sugar. Sometimes sugar alcohols are used as a sugar substitute to lower the amount of carbohydrates in a food.

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Cooking With Sugar Alcohols

Are Sugar Alcohols Healthy?

Sugar alcohols are generally not used in home cooking, but rather in large scale food manufacturing. However, there may be occasions when you want to use one of these products at home.

You can purchase sweeteners such as erythritol and xylitol in granulated or powdered form to use in sweet treats. However, since these products are not as sweet as sugar, they usually need to be combined with another sweetener to get the desired effect. For example, Truvia brand sweetener combines erythritol with stevia to get a level of sweetness that works well in recipes.

You may need to experiment with the sweetener and the recipe that you choose. You may notice a difference in texture in baked goods, although sugar alcohols are usually better at providing bulk in baked goods than artificial sweeteners.

If your recipe is for a beverage or a sweet sauce, you may notice that sugar alcohols don’t blend well. For example, erythritol may cause a grainy texture in liquids.

The use of sugar alcohols may change the taste of your food slightly. Follow product instructions and take some time to experiment in the kitchen to find the right mix.

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What Is The Purpose Of Sugar Alcohols

Some sugar alcohols naturally occur in fruits and vegetables, but most are produced from other sugars, such as glucose from cornstarch. Manufacturers add them to foods to sweeten them and improve flavor while still allowing them to label the foods as sugar-free. Sugar alcohols are also added to help keep products moist and to add texture to foods.

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