Many sugar alcohols such as organic erythritol are marketed as healthy sugar replacements. Frequently companies that manufacture products containing these sugar alcohols are able to claim health benefits, as the products do not contain the empty calories of traditional refined sugars. However, many of these sugar substitutes are unhealthy and pose risks to a person ingesting them. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, DO, high levels of consumed erythritol can cause adverse side effects to gastrointestinal health.
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What Is Organic Erythritol?
According to Erythritol.net, erythritol is a pleasant-tasting sweetener, promotes healthy teeth, occurs naturally in the human body and is easily digested. These claims, while partly true, are only a part of the eryhtritol facts. Erythritol, while called a sugar alcohol, is neither a sugar nor an alcohol, says Dr. Mercola. Eryhtritol is usually derived from plant sugars that are fermented, but the end product is neither sugar or alcohol but rather a substance called a polyol.
Abdominal Gas, Cramping, Pain
Dr. Mercola reports that sugar substitutes such as erythritol cause many abdominal issues such as gas, cramping and pain or upset stomach. This happens because sugar alcohols are not entirely absorbed by the body but pass through the system almost unchanged. This can lead to a build-up of foreign substances in the bowels, which typically causes the systems listed.
Occasional Severe Diarrhea
In extreme cases when a person has ingested a large amount of erythritol, Dr. Mercola warns that severe diarrhoea may occur. Some sugar alcohols are so potent that companies must add warning labels to products manufactured with sugar alcohols to inform consumers of this risk. Currently, erythritol, though linked to several claims blaming the substance for adverse gastrointestinal effects, is not on the list of substances that require a warning label as erythritol is one of the less potent sugar alcohols in use.
Contrary to popular opinion, erythritol does contain a small amount of caloric content--0.2 calories per gram--absorbed by the human body. While most of the chemical remains unprocessed and passes from the body in waste, a small amount of calorie content is absorbed from erythritol.
Erythritol Is Not as "Healthy" as Claimed
Many companies market sugar-alcohol sugar substitutes as a "healthy" alternative to real sugar. While Dr. Mercola agrees that refined sugars are unhealthy empty calories, he states that sugar alcohols are nearly as damaging to an individual's health as traditional refined sugars. Dr. Mercola recommends, "eating unprocessed, organic and locally grown foods" to promote health. This means organic honey, organic cane sugar and other naturally occurring sweeteners are far healthier and more easily metabolised and utilised by the human body than sugar alcohol sweeteners such as organic erythritol.
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