(NaturalNews) Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, was once widely accepted as a sugar alternative for diabetics. It is also produced in the body when glucose is metabolized. The dangers of sorbitol; however, have been in medical literature for over two decades. Today, there is increasing controversy over the merits of this popular sweetener.
Diabetics and calorie counters at risk
Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that is often used to sweeten processed foods. Some tissues contain sorbitol dehydorgenase, an enzyme that converts sorbitol into fructose. Tissues lacking this enzyme run the risk of sorbitol accumulating within the tissue. Moreover, an enzyme known as aldose reductase converts glucose into sorbitol. This process occurs in everyone to a degree, but in those with diabetes, the conversion of glucose to sorbitol is greatly accelerated. When it does, it depletes the body of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Sorbitol is osmotically active, drawing water into cells, and causes these cells to swell which can eventually result in serious diabetic complications such as vision problems (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney problems (nephropathy) and blood vessel damage. This osmotic characteristic makes it especially useful as a laxative, which would explain the common compliant of gas, bloating, and other digestive issues after eating foods sweetened with the alcohol-sugar. Because of its chemical constitution, sorbitol is not used by the body, so it takes a long time for the body to rid itself of the sugar molecule. As more food items are made with sorbitol and consumed by diabetics, combined with the accelerated conversion of glucose, sorbitol can build up over time.
Diabetics and those counting calories should give serious consideration to the dangers of not only sorbitol, but all artificial sweeteners. Like many medical interventions, sorbitol and artificial sweeteners were initially recommended by diabetes organizations and MDs globally only to be retracted as "dangerous" due to the inherent risks. Sadly, millions of people have been affected by this misguided advice with irrevocable negative effects. Organizations like American Diabetes Services are now stating that "in general, you should try to avoid eating or drinking too many products with artificial sweeteners. Opt for those with natural sugar substitutes instead." The irony of it all is quite disheartening because all the damage ensued by artificial sweetener consumption was directly caused by organizations like this who once heralded these toxins as "safe." The question begging to be asked is, "What's next?" What new chemical invention today is being widely accepted and recommended only to be shunned later on at the risk of millions of naive and unquestioning people?
There are; however, very safe and natural options diabetics and those counting calories can utilize. For example, increasingly gaining popularity and becoming more common in processed foods and non-milk substitutes, stevia is a zero calorie herbal sweetener that will not increase blood glucose levels and has a delightfully pleasant flavor. Now, ubiquitously available in health and generic grocery stores in processed, powered forms, the plants themselves are very easy to grow in most climates and are do not require much maintenance.
About the author: Journalist, medical researcher, speaker, and life coach, Eric L. Zielinski has been writing prolifically since 1998. Formerly trained as primary care provider and peer-review researcher, he has published an eclectic selection of health content for several print and online publications. Zielinski earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Wayne State University in 2002 and is currently wrapping up his Doctorate of Chiropractic at Life University along with a Masters of Public Health at Emory University. Visit his blog. Track his work on facebook. Read Eric's other naturalnews.com articles.
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