What Sweetener Could Trigger IBS or SIBO Symptoms?
By Bethany Ugarte (aka @lilsipper)
Erythritol. You’ve probably seen it in food label ingredients and wondered what exactly it is…or you may not even known you’re consuming it daily!
What is it?
Erythritol is a four-carbon sugar alcohol or polyol that contains about 60 percent to 80 percent of the sweetness of table sugar. Other sugar alcohols include sorbitol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol and xylitol. Fruits like watermelon, pear and grapes naturally have minor amounts of erythritol, as do mushrooms and fermented foods like cheese and wine, so with that in mind, it’s passed along and approved as safe and “natural”. It’s now commonly added to many packaged food and drink items as well as sugar-free gums, mints, and even some medications.
It’s commonly added to stevia to produce bulk to make it easier to measure and “stretch” the substance (or make stevia less expensive for the company to produce).
Truvia, which markets itself as stevia, is actually about 95 percent genetically modified erythritol with a little bit of rebiana (a stevia derivative) and “natural flavors” thrown in.
Sugar alcohols like erythritol are well-known for their link to digestive issues. Some of the most common erythritol side effects are painful and undesirable GI problems due to its lack of digestibility.
Bloating is just the start of artificial sweetener consumption. Diarrhea is a well-known common side effect, especially with erythritol. When consumed in excess, unabsorbed erythritol can attract water from the intestinal wall which may cause diarrhea.
SIBO and IBS Sufferers
SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) occurs in many people suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and is defined as excessive bacteria in the small intestine. While bacteria occurs naturally in the digestive tract, the small intestine is supposed to have relatively low levels of bacteria. When people suffer from SIBO or IBS, what they put into their bodies on a daily basis can truly spell the difference between healing or increased distress – and I for one have dealt with it first hand and on a DAILY BASIS (that’s why I am so particular about what goes into my own body!)
Polyols like erythritol top the list for ingredients to avoid with a digestive problem like SIBO because they can so commonly be irritating and problematic to the digestive system.
If you’re not yet convinced to stay away from erythritol, researchers at Drexel University were pursuing a patent on erythritol as an insecticide and are continuing to study its effectiveness. Yup! The researchers show that erythritol is toxic to flies, so I guess if you have a fly infestation you should keep some erythritol on hand!
SOME GREAT ALTERNATIVES SWEETENERS:
- Raw honey
- Yacon syrup
- Blackstrap molasses
A better choice
When I teamed up with Nuzest to develop Digestive Support Protein, I was careful to use organic coconut sugar instead of artificial sweeteners.