Being neither entirely sugar nor alcohol in nature, sugar alcohols are more of a hybrid between sugar molecules and alcohol molecules. Xylitol, erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, and maltitol are all different types of sugar alcohols. They are also called polyols. You can find any of these sugar alcohols in a lot of processed food items, such as chewing gums, candies, ice creams, baked goods, fruit spreads, frostings, yogurts, and tabletop sweeteners. If that wasn't bad enough, you can even find them in a rising number of "diet" drinks and "vitamin-infused" beverages. This low-calorie sweetener can come off as seemingly harmless with the supposed health improvements it can provide, such as fighting tooth decay. However, its growing presence in a wide variety of food items means that it can sneak into your diet without you even knowing about it and that can have devastating effects on your health. (Related: Xylitol - Is It Safe or Effective?)
Sugar alcohols are highly refined, processed chemical substances. These substances do not contain any useful nutrients that your body can absorb. In fact, due to their partial resistance to digestion, these substances cannot be absorbed by your body at all. This can lead to immediate side effects, such as upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. Since your body cannot digest these sugar alcohols, they will pass through your stomach fully intact. When they travel to your small intestine, they will undergo a process of “passive diffusion.” Whatever unmetabolized remnants of the sugar alcohols that remain after the process can potentially be stuck in your gut indefinitely. Eventually, these remnant particles will begin to rot, creating a toxic environment that is conducive to the growth of bad bacteria and other harmful pathogens. This can also affect your enterocyte cells that line your intestinal walls.
Your intestinal lining contains your immune cells. Having this toxic environment right where your gut lining is can interfere with its normal functions. Over time, more of these undigested sugar alcohols can accumulate in your gut lining, weakening it and leading to a condition known as leaky gut. Having a leaky gut can then increase your risk of developing a number of related health conditions, such as autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, metabolic issues, neurological issues and breast cancer.
Furthermore, some studies suggest a link between the consumption of certain sugar alcohols and the growth of tumors.
While sugar alcohols are not artificial sweeteners like aspartame, they are not exactly entirely natural either. Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol made from corn sugar. Most of these corn sugars tend to come from genetically modified corn. Most of the other types of sugar alcohols are also commonly derived from genetically modified substances, such as sorbitol, which is mostly derived from GMO cornstarch. Xylitol is a carbohydrate that can be naturally found in birch trees and other plant fibers, but it must first be processed. This process involves the combination of birch waste and GMO corn.
Learn more about the potential dangers of sugar alcohols and other sweeteners by going to Sweeteners.news.