Ask Dr. Hull
I’m trying to avoid both aspartame and Splenda, so I am buying more products with sorbitol and the sugar alcohols.
What is your view on sorbitol? Is it safe or just as bad as aspartame?
Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
From Dr. Hull
I am actually asked this A LOT. So, to answer your question, I wouldn’t use it as my choice. I don’t use any added sweetness, but if you do, I’d use stevia, unprocessed sugar, or saccharin.
Yes, I said saccharin. You can read about the history of saccharin in my books to understand why it is a better choice, especially if you are diabetic.
I am not a fan of sugar alcohols because they have been extracted from their natural sources in the lab, and they can cause stomach issues.
Sugar alcohols are made from sugar and they aren’t as dangerous as the chemical sweeteners, but they are not 100% natural because have been changed in the lab.
Neither Sugar Nor Alcohol
Part of their chemical structure resembles sugar and part is similar to alcohol – hence, sugar alcohol. But to complicate matters more, these sweeteners are neither sugars nor alcohols.
Sugar alcohols fall into a “grey area” in the sweetener arena because they are actually carbohydrates (starches) more than they are sugars. They are typically used cup-for-cup in the same amount as refined sugar, but they each vary in sweetness, ranging from half as sweet to as sweet as sugar.
So, this makes them if-y in my book, and whether they are right for you depends upon your individual circumstances.
Sorbitol is readily converted in the body to fructose and glucose.
The problem with this sweetener is that it is slowly absorbed in the intestines and can produce a laxative or gaseous effect, and it can affect blood sugar levels more than the other sugar alcohols. So it may not be the best choice for diabetics.
Sorbitol is a simple carb that is 60 percent as sweet as sucrose. Excessive consumption of more than 50 to 80 grams a day may have a laxative effect.
It is called a nutritive sweetener because it actually has four calories in every gram, just like table sugar. Sorbitol is found naturally in fruits and is an ingredient in many sugar-free gums, sugar-free breath mints and dietetic candies.
Did you know that sorbitol is also produced by your body?
Too much sorbitol in your cells can cause damage, though. Diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy may be related to too much sorbitol in the cells of the eyes and nerves, but not enough research has been done to date.
Word Of Caution
And here is a word of caution if you have IBS or similar health issues: some foods contain sugars that are absorbed slowly, such as fructose in fruit juice or sorbitol in low-calorie sweets. Through a process called osmosis, unabsorbed sugars hold onto water in the intestines, which sometimes leads to diarrhea.
By reading labels, people with chronic non-infectious diarrhea can easily avoid fruit juice, fructose and sorbitol to see if this eliminates the problem.
So you decide if you want to use sorbitol, but make sure not to use too much.
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