Sugar alcohols

Have you ever heard of sugar alcohols? You would be amazed at just how many products contain some form of sugar alcohol.  For some people these can cause all sorts of digestive issues such as bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea.



Many “sugar-free” foods have sugar alcohols which can be as bad or worse for you than sugar.  The labels on many sugar-free products include words like maltitol, xylitol, and sorbitol. These are sugar alcohols. However, these are not actually sugar or alcohol.  They are a type of carbohydrate called “polyols”.  A portion of their chemical structure resembles sugar, and a portion resembles alcohol.   Common sugar alcohols are:

  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol
  • Erythritol
  • Isomalt
  • Lactitol
  • Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates
  • Maltitol
  • Mannitol


Sugar alcohols occur naturally in plants and some are extracted directly from plants (for example, sorbitol from corn syrup and mannitol from seaweed), but they are mostly manufactured from sugars and starches.  The blood sugar impact of sugar alcohols is generally less than sugar, and they provide fewer calories per gram. Sugar alcohols do not promote tooth decay and are often used to sweeten chewing gum. One, xylitol, actually inhibits bacterial growth in the mouth.

From ‘What are Sugar Alcohols?’ by Laura Dolson on

Sugar alcohols can cause abdominal discomfort like cramps along with dehydration, and if consumed in large enough quantities, they can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels.  Fuel your body with whole foods!



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