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LS289 08-08-2004 09:01 PM

Sugar Alcohols
A lot of the "low carb" foods out there are claiming to have 0g of sugar, but instead have tons of sugar alcohols. I understand that these are broken down differently by the body (to avoid insulin spikes), but how exactly ARE they broken down? And why do they cause intestinal problems (i.e. gas, diarrhea, etc)? Is it really better to eat a 200 calorie chocolate bar with 12g of fat, 0g of sugar and 19g of sugar alcohols or a 200 calorie chocolate bar with 10g of fat and regular sugar? Are these sugar alcohols really safe?

modert 08-08-2004 11:00 PM

Re: Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols (polyols) are are artificial sweeteners derived from natural carbohydrate (plant) sources, but have been chemically modified. They are slightly different from granular artificial sweeteners (like splenda) in that they also add bulk (texture and chewiness) to foods, which is why they are used in candies, cookies, cakes, ice cream, etc.

Sugar Alcohols are not metabolized by the body the same way sugars are. In fact, sugar alcohols contain 2 - 2.5 calories per gram compared to complex and simple carbohydrates which contain 4 calories per gram. The problem is that the portion of a sugar alcohol that is not metabolized is perceived by the liver as a toxin and must be excreted from the body. Many people experience severe gastrointestinal symptoms as their body's struggle through digestion of sugar alcohols.

Food manufacturers tout sugar alcohols as a benefit to dieters and diabetics, because they add sweetness and chewiness to foods, with fewer calories and less effect on blood glucose levels. But the fact is that sugar alcohols can still effect glucose levels, and have been found to act as "trigger foods" just like sugar, leading to carb cravings or binges.

Furthermore, the FDA is still conducting studies and have not yet formed conclusions regarding the use of sugar alcohols and how nutritional labels are required to list them. The last I read, there would not be any updated guidelines until at least 2006 regarding labeling of "sugar alcohols" vs "polyols", listing specific gram/calorie values, and listing carb vs "net carb" values in foods.

My recommendation is to avoid sugar alcohols wherever possible. You will always be better off focusing on more natural, less processed food sources. But if you happen to not be effected by the common side-effects of sugar alcohols and you have an incurable sweet tooth, consuming sugar alcohols in [I]very modest [/I] quantities is probably okay.

zip2play 08-09-2004 06:13 AM

Re: Sugar Alcohols

I think that SOME of these sugar alcohols are safe, others are NOT. I am particularly down on Maltitol which gives me an INSTANT splitting headache, something going on there that's unique to maltitol.

The reason for the gastro disturbances bordering on explosive:D is the fact that we cannot digest a portion of these sugar alcohols BUT OUR INTESTINAL FLORA CAN. This fermentation releases lots of heat, carbon dioxide and alcohol and Ka-BOOM! Some of these fake sagars should be eaten only while sitting on the THRONE for safety.

modert 08-09-2004 07:07 AM

Re: Sugar Alcohols
[QUOTE=zip2play]Some of these fake sagars should be eaten only while sitting on the THRONE for safety.[/QUOTE]
What a visualization! :D :D :D

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