why does sugar free candy give me gas

Monday, March 1, 2010
By I know that sounds like the teaser advertisement for an upcoming talk show but the truth is there are a few things you should know before consuming sugar alcohols (often used in sugar-free products) with reckless abandon. Oh I know all about the side effect of sugar alcohols. I can t touch them without some intestinal side effects. Several of my friends have recently experienced bad times in the bathroom and it may have been due to consuming these sugar alcohols. Sorbitol, and other sugar alcohols can be found naturally in some fruits and plants and they are used as low-calorie sweeteners in various food products because they aren t easily digested. This group of sugar replacers (which includes sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, and isomalt, in addition to maltitol) is touted as being particularly helpful to people with because only a portion of it is digested and absorbed. And the part that is absorbed through the intestinal tract is absorbed slowly, so there is little rise in blood sugar and little need for insulin. But, the fact that these sugar alternatives aren t easily digested helps explain why they have been known to produce gas, bloating, cramping and diarrhea in some people. This is thanks to the part of the sugar alcohol that isn t digested or absorbed. It goes through the intestinal tract and starts to ferment and attract water into the intestinal tract. A certain, individualized amount of discomfort, ranging from gas to diarrhea can result, depending on the amount consumed and each person s intestinal tract. Anyone with or other intestinal sensitivities is perhaps most at risk for these not so subtle side effects. That said, what do gastroenterologists have to say about sugar alcohols- are they seeing problems with their patients tolerating them?


Gastroenterologist and author, Shekhar Challa, MD agrees that these symptoms arise due to sugar alcohol not being absorbed or partially absorbed. He believes the side effects can be worse in patients with IBS, but wanted to clarify that people can have symptoms even if they do not have IBS. Most of the time Dr Challa s patients don t know that these sugar alcohols are making their IBS or intestinal symptoms worse. One theory which is getting more traction is this, around 20% of people with IBS may have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), explains Dr. Challa. These patients perhaps have more symptoms as any non absorbable sugars are actually broken down by the small bowel bacteria causing symptoms of IBS the bacteria essentially feast on these sugars. I wanted to know if dietitians have found these sugar alcohols (and sugar-free products) to be helpful for their clients with diabetes or those wanting to lose weight. Susan Dopart, MS, RD, a dietitian in private practice and author of, has found that most everyone she works with has had the same experience. She doesn t recommend them to anyone, but especially cautions diabetics who tend to have sensitive systems in general. One sugar free chocolate may be okay, she explains, but more than that leads to severe stomach cramping and crisis in the bathroom. I can speak from personal experience that cramping commences about an hour or two after consuming a dose of sugar alcohols, apparently due to gas that is forming in the intestines. So for some of us, along with the uncomfortable cramping, smelly gas is also likely to ensue. The American Dietetic Association advises that more than 50 grams of sorbitol or 20 grams of mannitol per day can cause diarrhea.


You can see the total amount of sugar alcohol in a serving of each sugar-free product by reading the nutrition information label. For example, the Dove Mint CrГЕme product has 17 grams of sugar alcohols per 5 pieces or 40 grams of. You ll find sugar alcohols in sugar-free chocolates and other sugar-free confections, including gum and mints, and some lower calorie frozen desserts. They are popping up though in all sorts of reduced calorie products, so check that label if you think you are sensitive to them! - recipes, kitchen and shopping advice in your inbox. Sugar-free candy, nutrition bars, cookies, cakes and other sweets might be sugar-free, but they do contain sugar substitutes, many of which can cause diarrhea, especially sugar alcohols. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose can also cause diarrhea in some people,b but sugar alcohols are more likely to induce diarrhea. When you eat foods containing sugar alcohols, be aware that you might experience sudden, explosive diarrhea if you eat too much. Sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol, despite the name. Sugar alcohols, also called polyols, are natural sweeteners that have a similar chemical structure to both sugar and alcohol. TheyБre used as artificial sweeteners because they have half the calories of regular sweeteners. The reduced calorie count comes from the fact that theyБre incompletely absorbed. Incomplete absorption is also the cause of their diarrheal effects. Like fiber, they pull fluid into the colon, diluting the stool and causing watery diarrhea. Several types of sugar alcohols are used as sweeteners in diet foods, including sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol and lactitol.


Others include isomalt, xylitol and erythritol. These sweeteners vary in their calorie count per gram and their sweetness compared with sugar. Regular sugar contains 4 calories per gram. Isomalt, lactitol and maltitol each has about 2 calories per gram, while xylitol has 2. 4 and sorbitol 2. 6. Mannitol has 1. 6 calories per gram, and erythritol has the least, just 0. 3 calories per gram. However, the less sweet the product, the more of it that must be used to get the required taste. Maltitol is the sweetest, 90 percent as sweet as sugar, while lactitol is the least sweet, 30 to 40 percent as sweet as sugar. Isomalt, mannitol and sorbitol fall between 45 and 70 percent of sugarБs sweetness and erythritol is 60 to 80 percent as sweet. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says consuming more than 50 grams of sorbitol or 20 grams of mannitol can cause diarrhea. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration currently requires warning labels about the laxative properties of sugar alcohols only on products containing this amount. However, many people experience symptoms at much lower doses of between 10 and 50 grams of sorbitol, the Center for Science in the Public Interest reports. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reports that doses of 30 to 60 grams of xylitol have caused diarrhea; abdominal pain, gas and bloating can also occur. In a study published in the September 1985 issue of the БAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology,Б researchers reported that 10 grams of sorbitol caused abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea in 43 percent of whites and 55 percent of nonwhites, while severe clinical intolerance occurred in 4 percent of whites and 32 percent of non-whites.

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