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K Nutri understands how important health and wellness are to living your best life, which is why we not only provide you with the best possible supplements to support that, but the advice you need to help you avoid substances that might harm that pursuit, including sugar alcohols.
Sugar alcohols are often used as a substitute for sugar in certain foods, most frequently in processed items that are labeled “no added sugar” or “sugar-free.” Those labels lead many to believe that just because what’s inside doesn’t contain traditional sugar that they’re healthy, but the reality is much different.
What are Sugar Alcohols?
Sugar alcohols aren’t actually sugar, and they aren’t alcohol either. They’re plant-based carbohydrates that have been chemically altered to taste sweet. You’ll see them on food labels listed as xylitol, sorbitol, erythritol, isomalt, mannitol or hydrogenated starch hydrolysate. They’re typically combined with other artificial compounds that are highly processed. Food manufacturers tout them as being “good for you” because they only contain a fraction of the amount of calories that typical sweeteners like sugar do, yet they provide a wonderfully sweet flavor.
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, like so many things, this is another one that’s just too good to be true.
The Problems with Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols can cause all sorts of problems from blood sugar spikes to digestive issues and more. Erythritol, was even found in a 2014 study to be toxic to fruit flies. When the flies digested this sugar alcohol, it dramatically decreased their lifespan – in fact, it’s now even being considered as a sustainable approach for controlling insects.
This is what all types of sugar alcohols may do to humans:
Blood sugar spikes. While many people immediately assume that sugar-free means that a food won’t have any affect on blood sugar, those labels are rather misleading. While the food may not contain actual sugar, they still have carbohydrates which may increase glucose levels like table sugar, although generally not as drastically. Of course, this can be a serious problem for diabetics, whose good health depends on keeping blood sugar levels stabilized. As a lot of people tend to overeat foods labeled sugar-free or no sugar-added, their glucose levels can become significantly elevated. Even for those who aren’t diabetic, spiking blood sugar levels can cause severe health consequences such as heart disease, obesity, thyroid dysfunction and hormonal balance.
Digestive issues. Sugar alcohols are very hard for the body to digest, which is why they can cause problems like diarrhea, cramping, gas and other intestinal distress. They aren’t absorbed well and can lead to an allergic reaction in some people, including a laxative effect so pronounced that it’s part of the chemical makeup of many over-the-counter laxative medications. It damages healthy gut bacteria and can even permanent alter the metabolism.
Weight gain. The reason many people turn to artificial sweeteners like sugar alcohols is to lose weight or prevent weight gain. While it was once thought that the body doesn’t metabolize these substances, that they simply pass right through the body, a study on erythritol found that it was a biomarker for weight gain and increased fat mass. At least part of the reason these highly processed sweeteners may cause one to gain weight is that they confuse the brain’s reward center and trick the gut into thinking you’re consuming real sugar. That sweet taste causes the digestive system to prepare to process foods that contain calories, but when those calories don’t arrive, over time the body learns that it shouldn’t kick the metabolism into gear. In other words, the metabolism slows, making it difficult to burn calories. And, as mentioned consuming foods that contain artificial sweeteners often trick people into thinking they can eat more than they should, leading to a significantly increase in the overall consumption of calories.
Cravings and addiction. Consuming a lot of foods that contain sugar alcohols can also lead to more cravings for sweet tastes, and even addiction. A UK study found that too much “sweetness” can dull the taste buds to other flavors like salty and sour, leading to a greater preference for sweet foods and beverages. The researchers discovered that drinking just two sweet drinks a day for four weeks was enough to dull sensitivity to taste sensations.
Harm to pets. Sugar alcohols are life-threatening toxins to dogs. The FDA has warned that xylitol in particular is especially dangerous as it’s quickly absorbed into their bloodstream which can result in a potent release of insulin. That in turn can cause a rapid and significant decrease in blood sugar levels, within just 10 to 60 minutes of consumption, which can be life threatening. That’s just one more good reason not to have any items with sugar alcohols in the home, such as sugar-free gum, breath mints, and even some vitamins.
The good news is that at K Nutri, you don’t have to worry about finding sugar alcohols in any of our supplements, as we give you only real ingredients that enhance rather than harm your health so that you can feel your best – and your pets won’t be put in harms way either.