Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
15 Feb

Sugar Alcohols: Everything You Need to Know

XylitolI’ve been on a bit of an alternative sweetener kick these past few weeks, for good reason: people want and need to know about this stuff. While a purist shudders at the prospect of any non- or hypo-caloric sugar substitute gracing his or her tongue, I’m a realist. People are going to partake and it’s important to understand what’s entering your body and what, if any, effects it will have. Whether it’s diet soda, artificial sweeteners, stevia, or the mysterious sugar alcohols, people want the sweet without worrying about a big physiological effect – an insulin surge, a blood glucose dip, even a migraine. So I’ve been covering the various types and have tried to be comprehensive about it. As a whole, it all seems fairly safe. Alternative sweeteners might mess with some folks’ adherence to a low-sugar diet, and they might induce or fortify cravings, but the research doesn’t suggest that they’re going to give you cancer or diabetes. The potentially negative effects are all fairly subjective, so it’s safe to play around with them and determine their role in your life based on how they affect your appetite, state-of-mind, and any other subjective health markers.

One remains, however. I have yet to cover sugar alcohols. I was surprised, actually, having gone through my archives and finding nothing. Sugar alcohols are pretty prominent in the low-carb world – all those sugar-free desserts and chocolates and protein bars geared toward Atkins types tend to use sugar alcohols – so I had better get to it, huh?

What Are Sugar Alcohols?

A sugar alcohol, also known as a polyol, is an interesting type of carbohydrate. Its structure is kind of a hybrid between a sugar molecule and an alcohol molecule (hence the name “sugar alcohol”) and, for the most part, our bodies do a poor job of digesting and breaking down sugar alcohol in the small bowel. It’s also sweet to the tongue and resistant to fermentation by oral bacteria, meaning sugar-free gum manufacturers employ it judiciously to sweeten their products without causing cavities. Our colonic bacteria, however, can and do ferment the stuff. For that reason, it’s a kind of prebiotic that, as Kurt Harris points out, can stimulate diarrhea and exacerbate existing irritable bowel syndrome-related symptoms. Common side effects of sugar alcohol consumption (or over-consumption) include bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. Sugar alcohols are not quite non-caloric, but all contribute fewer calories than sucrose, and their effects on insulin and blood sugar (if any) are pretty minimal.

Sugar alcohols pop up in nature, in fruits like apples and pears, but any commercial product that contains them must list the specific alcohols in the ingredients. If they aren’t counted toward the official carb count, they must be listed separately in the nutritional information. Let’s look at some of the popular ones you’ll be encountering:

Xylitol – Glycemic Index of 13

Xylitol is one of the more popular sugar alcohols. It tastes remarkably like sucrose, has about half the calories, and is 1.6 times as sweet, with little effect on blood glucose and none on insulin levels. You can find xylitol in certain berries, corn husks, mushroom fibers, and oats; most commercial xylitol comes from hardwood and corn. Xylitol has a cooling effect on the mouth and is actively protective against dental caries (as opposed to merely being neutral or non-contributive, like the other sugar alcohols), making it the favorite choice of sugar-free chewing gum makers.

There appear to be some interesting health benefits to xylitol, too, beyond the well-established preventive actions against dental plaque and cavities. Xylitol shows promise as a bone remineralization agent, positively affecting both tooth enamel and bone mineral density (albeit, thus far, in rats). I count at least ten studies showing xylitol’s promise in the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis.

Just don’t feed it to your dog. Also, it may exacerbate intestinal distress or cause diarrhea, so exercise caution (and linger near a toilet if you’re unsure of its effect on you).

Sorbitol – Glycemic Index of 9

Sorbitol is found primarily in stone fruits, and manufacturers use it in diet sodas, sugar-free ice creams and desserts, as well as mints, cough syrups, and gum. It’s about half as sweet as sucrose, with 2.6 calories per gram (compared to sucrose’s 4 calories per gram, of course). Being a polyol, it has the potential to cause great gastrointestinal distress, especially in patients with IBS. This is compounded by its relative lack of sweetness when compared to other polyols, like xylitol; people are more likely to consume greater amounts of sorbitol to attain the desired level of sweetness and companies are more likely to use more of it.

There don’t appear to be any proactive beneficial effects with sorbitol. It doesn’t affect insulin or blood glucose, which could be good for diabetics, but there’s nothing like xylitol’s promise.

Erythritol – Glycemic Index of 0

Erythritol is almost non-caloric (0.2 calories per gram) and about 60-70% as sweet as sugar. It’s the only sugar alcohol that doesn’t appear to cause gastrointestinal distress (because the body absorbs it rather than let it pass to the colon for fermentation), it doesn’t affect blood sugar or insulin, and it cannot be fermented by dental bacteria (and it exhibits some of xylitol’s inhibitory effect on carie-causing oral bacteria, though not all of it).

For the most part, erythritol seems pretty safe, and it’s rumored to taste very similar to sugar. Overconsumption – taking in more than your body can absorb – can result in bloating and gastrointestinal distress, but it takes a lot.

Maltitol – Glycemic Index of 36

Maltitol is very similar to actual sugar in terms of mouth feel, taste, and even cooking performance (except for browning, which it cannot do). It’s 90% as sweet with half the calories, so manufacturers love using copious amounts of maltitol in sugar-free desserts and other products. That’s all well and good while you’re eating the stuff, but what about half an hour later once all that sugar alcohol has finally reached your colon and the bacteria has started feasting and fermenting? Bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain.

It’s right there in the name, isn’t it? Mal.

There are others, but those are the big ones. Overall, the literature shows that sugar alcohols are fairly neutral as far as blood glucose and insulin effects go. Some people may see spikes, as I’ve seen reports on blogs and in comment boards to that effect, but most people won’t. They can hit your gut pretty hard and cause problems there, especially if you’ve got a preexisting condition, but healthy people with healthy digestion (which isn’t as widespread as most people think, of course) should be okay with some here and there. Xylitol in particular seems promising, and I’ll keep my eye out for more information on that as it emerges.

If you’re doing fine without sweeteners (non-caloric, hypo-caloric, artificial, natural, whatever), keep it up. Don’t go looking for an excuse to introduce sugar substitutes. But if your desire for something, anything sweet is derailing your attempts at a healthy diet, sugar alcohols may be worth experimenting with. Give it a shot if you’re gonna and let me know how it goes.

What have your experiences been with sugar alcohols? They get a bad rap from being used in so many processed “low-carb” treats, but have they helped or hindered your path to health? Let me know in the comment section!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. If I have to, xylitol gum is a decent choice for my kids.

    Alison Golden wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • recommended by my oncological dentist. gets the most out of what’s left of my saliva glands and it’s good for my teeth as well… she tells me.

      kem wrote on February 15th, 2011
  2. I can say that sugar alcohols (all of the mentioned) DO raise blood sugar at least in patients with type 1 diabetes.

    Yakov wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • I would caution people about the use of sorbitol. Many of the complications of diabetes occurs because of an accumulation of sorbitol intracellularly and in the interstitial fluids. glucose is your best bet for a sweetener. it is not inflammatory, and every tissue in the body can use it as an energy substrate. evolutionarily speaking it is the original source for energy in animal life, just be careful with the insulin spikes of course – a healthy dose of fat with your sugar should slow down gastric emptying which should help mitigate the insulin response.

      George wrote on February 15th, 2011
      • “Many of the complications of diabetes occurs because of an accumulation of sorbitol intracellularly and in the interstitial fluids. ”
        Please provide a reference for this.

        Dr April wrote on January 8th, 2013
      • Good insights.

        Eric Reinhardt wrote on August 20th, 2013
      • “Glucose is your best bet as a sweetener”: This seems to be poor advice, if only because — although glucose is a simple sugar — it is 25% less sweet than sucrose, but provides as many calories per gram. “Glucose is not inflammatory”: This is best considered untrue. Glucose is hardly a neutral substance and is well-established to participate in nonenzymatic oxidative reactions in the body. The hemoglobin A1C test that diabetics get is a measure of the amount of oxidative modification that occurs in blood cells from glucose. SImilar reactions are believed to underlie many of the complications of diabetes. Many medical investigators regard glucose as pro-inflammatory.

        scott b wrote on September 24th, 2013
    • Absolutely! I have to track ANY carbs, regardless of source, for proper diabetes mgmt. The “sugar free” sugary snacks are just as bad and potentially worse than the natural use of cane sugar in a food.

      Type 1 Diabetic wrote on February 18th, 2011
    • I have a question about sugar alcohols. My husbad has a brain tumor and was told that tumors love sugar. So we cut out sugar and cut down the carbs as I understand the liver will still make sugar. Some people tell me that sugar alcohol is just sugar. Should we stay away from it? Or does it make good replacement?

      Bobbi wrote on October 4th, 2012
      • All dietary carbohydrates eventually turn into glucose in your body. Tumor cells don’t like glucose any more than the rest of the cells in your body do.

        Dr April wrote on January 8th, 2013
      • I hope your husband is doing well. You’re very smart to cut down on sugar and carbohydrate. Ketosis has shown to be very beneficial to individuals with brain tumors. Yes, the liver makes glucose, even without dietary carbohydrate intake. Glucose is required by your body – just not at toxic levels of the usual American diet.

        It is a good replacement for use once in awhile. It can make some have cravings and does effect blood sugar in a small portion of individuals. You can do some individual and inexpensive blood glucose testing with the various artificial sweeteners.

        LCC wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • Please provide a reference for this statement – I don’t believe it.

      Dr April wrote on January 8th, 2013
    • I agree, sugar alcohols may raise blood sugar slower, but they can actually raise blood sugar higher in a type-1 diabetic. They also seem to feed unhealthy gut bacteria.

      John C. A. Manley wrote on June 23rd, 2013
    • I am not diabetic at all and have very stable low blood sugar and tend to burn a lot of ketones on a moderate-carb paleo diet. I experimented with eating a malitol sweetened chocolate lately and tested my blood sugar afterwards and found it quite elevated indeed. It also gave me really bad bloating and gas….

      No need to repeat that experiment.

      Alison wrote on December 23rd, 2013
  3. My personal experience with the above sweeteners are pretty on target as to what you described.

    Erythritol is great and I’ve been using it for years.

    There’s actually an amazing, full-fat cheescake that I’ve found at Whole Foods that’s made by a bakery out of California – Crave, I think.

    The crust is almond meal, cinnamon, erythritol, and butter and the filling is full fat cream cheese, full fat sour cream, and some Sorbitol. AMAZING not-so-cheating cheat.

    Tim wrote on February 15th, 2011
  4. I use Spry gum and toothpaste which are both sweetened with Xylitol and I personally think they are both great products. These products are made by Xlear, Inc. which also makes a good Xylitol sweetner to replace sugar called XyloSweet.

    Roderick Meadows wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • Yes I use the Spry gum , mouthwash xylosweet. They are great IMO. I also use xylitol from Emeral inc and it is made from birch trees.
      I don’t experience diarrhea from xylitol anymore.

      Gayle wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • I like the spry gum, I just wish it were a little firmer in texture and more like orbit (which has xylitol but I don’t know how much).

      moonablaze wrote on February 15th, 2011
      • Try googling “Zellies gum” – full Xylitol gum, firmer than Spry, great taste. I’m lovin the chocolate mint flavor!

        Jane wrote on February 15th, 2011
  5. Any time I eat more than a tiny bit of sugar free jelly beans or candy I am in the bathroom in pain. I drink a lot of diet soda (sadly) and that never bugs me and neither does splenda (other than triggering cravings I suppose). Something about the sugar free candy destroys me. The sugar alchohol in protein bars dont hurt me too much.

    Mat wrote on February 15th, 2011
  6. Okay, I don’t have something relevant to the article to say (mainly because I haven’t read it yet), however I am a Primal-ite…but on a local news channel here in the San Fran bay area (KRON 4 News) they just had an anchor come on with a news blurb that some research team (didn’t catch who because wasn’t paying attention until the rest of the story) has discovered that people who eat lots of fiber from whole grains are healthier and less likely to have cardiovascular problems such as heart disease. The went on to say that fiber from whole grains are superior to those from fruits and vegetables. Then concluded that those that eats lots of fiber from whole grains are overall healthier than those that don’t. I just was dumb-founded when i heard this and decided I should share this “gem” with the primal community, because even while great strides are being made to “cure” CW, it (CW) finds new ways to subvert change.

    Simply Misguided wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • I read about this briefly, and it was just a correlation study. People who eat a lot of fiber are less likely to eat as much highly processed foods as people who eat little fiber (assuming standard american diet). Therefore, it appears like fiber protects against those diseases.

      If they compared people who eat a lot of fiber to people who don’t eat a lot of fiber because they follow a primal/paleo eating plan, I’m guessing it would be a different story entirely.

      Allan wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • SuperMike wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • My experience: My initial response to grain fiber is, of all things, getting constipated. I am not going by frequency of bathroom visits here but by how my insides feel. (I might have IBS, I haven’t bothered asking my doc though as it can be difficult to diagnose.) Vegetable fiber’s better, but stuff doesn’t stay in my intestines long, which sort of makes it useless to eat it as far as I’m concerned.

      I read a study abstract a while back indicating findings that if you have a high fiber-to-fat ratio in your diet, you absorb less calcium. What sort of diet are the experts recommending for women now? High-fiber, low-fat. Is it any coincidence that we’re seeing more osteoporosis now? Doubt it. And that’s just calcium.

      Dana wrote on February 15th, 2011
  7. Erythritol is great. Erythritol + stevia is my favorite general use sweetener and I haven’t had any problems with that combination.

    Sarah wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • I love Erythritol. My wellness doctor in Houston had me start using it a year and a half ago. My blood glucose has come way down, as have my triglyerides. I find that if I mix it with Xylitol (about half & half) that it cuts the coolness a lot. I use it with almond flour and make pound cake and cookies with this mixture just fine and no gastric problems.

      I have to have my sweet fix often and this is great. I drink tea and coffee black, but have one “Latte” a day using full fat coconut milk and stevia. Good stuff!

      Vicky wrote on April 11th, 2013
  8. I keep reading about the questions about the safety of sugar substitutes and realize that I’m probably better off without them but I just can’t quite make that leap. I can do black coffee but I can’t do unsweetened. Just going to have to live with this one.

    John wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • I switched over to Stevia for my morning coffees. The taste is different from sugar, but you get used to it fast. I love it.

      Cleri wrote on February 16th, 2011
      • Eating Primal has really curbed my appetite for sugar and although I use some of the sugar alcohols occasionally (and stevia), I try to avoid “sugar” in general. This coming from a former M&M binger. When I stop constantly bombarding my system with “sweet,” everything else tastes better!

        Debbie wrote on February 16th, 2011
      • I switched too and it took me about a week and a half to get used to the taste…not I can’t tell the difference!

        Aris wrote on February 22nd, 2011
  9. Mark – thanks a ton for doing these posts. I wish I had the time to research these things, hence my love for MDA.

    When it comes to desserts, I do like my stevia, but we all went over that last week. I have NO NEED for sugar alcohols when I make desserts or drinks as I find that stevia is fantastic.

    The one place I do get them from is sugar-free chewing gum. I don’t chew it every day, but I do chew it. Trident Fresh Mint…its so tasty! I haven’t noticed any problems with re-introducing them into my diet after my recovery from IBS. During my IBS days, they were no good. Now, its not so bad, and I actually notice nothing from the 1-2 g I might get from chewing gum. Not for everybody, but at least I know I’m not slowly giving myself cancer (with that particular indulgence…).

    G

    Graham wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • Gum doesn’t affect my IBS issues either, but fruit does, oddly.

      Wish I could enjoy Stevia, but it makes my coffee taste dirty… and not in a good way.

      Danielle wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • I use to chew A LOT of Trident gum, then one day I was looking at the package and in bold it says it contains Phenyl something or other. I’m not sure what it is but its in coke zero as well. If I can’t pronounce it (and its in bold), I assume I shouldn’t eat it.

      Heather wrote on February 17th, 2011
      • That’s phenylalanine, which is an essential (human bodies can’t produce it) amino acid. It’s listed in bold because a small percentage of people have phenylketonuria (PKU) and can’t process phenylalanine, which causes it to build up in the body with toxic effects. You’d know if you had PKU and if that’s the only reason you’re avoiding Coke Zero and Trident, than use them without fear of phenylalanine. Nearly all sources of protein naturally contain some phenylalanine.

        kmonsterg wrote on November 29th, 2011
        • As long as you have Tyrosine – another amino acid – in your diet , which is needed to produce adrenaline and dopamine , your body converts some of this , under normal conditions , to Phenylalanine. I dont know what it does if you have PKU but if you are worried about it speak to your Doctor – there might be a blood test that confirms your doubts.

          Richard wrote on June 6th, 2012
  10. Several months ago (before going Primal) I was experiencing severe bloating and gastrointestinal distress. At first I thought it was “too many veggies” but upon further research I realized it was in fact – the pack or more of sugar-free gum I was chewing daily.

    Kelly wrote on February 15th, 2011
  11. Sugar-free gum helped my smile but definitely didn’t do me ANY favors ‘down there’. It was worth it to stop chewing the stuff all together. My recommendations?? Stick to brushing!!

    Ashley North wrote on February 15th, 2011
  12. What about glycol? :-P

    js290 wrote on February 15th, 2011
  13. I wonder if this explains why I’ve have problems with my gastrointestinal tract lately…. Well among other things, but I think I’ve been drinking more diet soda, and chewing gum.

    Adam wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • Oh my, I cannot believe anyone concerned with health would still drink any kind of soda. Xylitol is good for you but I understand some have issues with it due to other health concerns. If you read at all you know that any diet soda, just one a day, increases you risk of heart attack by 61%. Too risky for me. I am so thankful for sites like this one to help answer questions about important issues in our diet. I am new to this site, and way of thinking, but feel that it is so very important in the big scheme of thngs… just keep reading. It is amazing what you can learn on the “net”. Be sure to look at the articles about Coke and the dangerous chemicals in it that are missing when it is sold overseas! Interesting that our Govt would allow these when other countries will not… very nasty stuff.

      Carol wrote on November 23rd, 2011
      • One diet soda increases risk of heart attack by 61% sounds like complete BS to me. How does diet soda cause inflammation? Please tell me the “links”.

        Was everyone on the study eating the same, have the same exercise levels and stress levels? LOL.

        LCC wrote on February 28th, 2014
  14. I use Xylitol and stevia as my sweetners of choice. Xylitol replaces the white sugar in recipes nearly 1 to 1 perfectly. Liquid stevia is my new favorite, and I find it quite sweet. A few drops will do ya.

    Kelly wrote on February 15th, 2011
  15. I try very hard to limit us to stevia, though Hubby still uses Splenda in his coffee. The drive to remove other artificial sweeteners has been ongoing the last few years. We are so much better off.

    Melissa Fritcher wrote on February 15th, 2011
  16. While I usually use stevia when I need a little sweetness, I have also found xylitol and erythritol to be very tolerable. They taste good and don’t give me the insulin rush that real sugar does. Moderation is the key with them. Recently, I discovered an ice cream company called Clemmy’s which is making full fat ice cream with xylitol. As a splurge, I eat 1/4 to 1/2 cup of it topped with nuts and unsweetened coconut.

    Mary wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • oh. my. god. You can order Clemmy’s online, too. I just looked. O_O *weeps* I am so sick of most of the low-sugar ice creams being lowfat as well. Breyer’s is all right, but they still have some weird ingredients in their low-carb version.

      Dana wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • Anyone who calls 1/4-1/2c of ice cream a “splurge” is my hero…. I haven’t had ice cream in months, but when I do, 1-2c. is “normal”…

      Ben wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • Wow thanks for mentioning this I am going to try it. I did no know about Clemmy’s

      Gayle wrote on February 16th, 2011
    • I have tried Clemmy’s Ice cream now an it is DELICIOUS! Thanks for posting about it. It is a my neighborhoode Sprouts and I had never heard of it.

      Of course this will be an rare to occassional cheat since I try to minimize dairy.

      Thanks again

      Gayle wrote on February 19th, 2011
      • I can not see why anyone knowing anything about carbs would knowingly eat this. I found it online, and checked it out. It is as high in carbs as regular ice cream. It also uses maltitol which has been shown to raise blood sugar levels in diabetics! And xylitol is usually the 4th to 8th ingredient on the list of ingredients. Beware..it is not low carb!! Do a study on the sweetener used, and I feel you will not want to buy it…I know I won’t….just sayin!!

        Lanita wrote on November 18th, 2011
  17. Something that is just ever so tangential to this would be my concern w/ stuff in toothpaste such as sodium lauryl sulfate and triclosan that we are putting in our MOUTH. I mean the artifical sweetener is one thing but what about these nasty chemicals? I understand that triclosan (EWWW!) is only in Colgate Total but SLS is fairly ubiquitous and in pretty much everything that suds.. Grok didn’t have toothpaste.. what did he use?! Am I just becoming uber barbarian or what?! haha

    Olivia wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • I brush my teeth with water. It does wonders and I don’t get any complaints from my husband (he hadn’t even noticed I stopped).

      Primal K@ wrote on February 15th, 2011
      • it’s not just the artificial sweeteners and other fun chemicals in conventional toothpastes that are a problem – its also the *glycerin* the problem is that the glycerin coats the teeth and it takes up to 25-30 rinses to get it off! coated teeth cannot be re-mineralized even if your saliva/mouth ph is correct from a good diet – dump commercial toothpastes of all kind and get some xylitol, hym. salt, baking soda and a little bentonite clay – mix (2 parts, 1 part, 1/2, 1/2 in that order) and add cloves, cinnamon, ginger – whatever – and you have a great cleaning and healthy tooth powder – and much cheaper to boot!

        grok probably picked his teeth and maybe around the ocean – swished his mouth with seawater – yes?

        DaiaRavi wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • I use Tom’s of Maine out of pure habit. I could probably get by with just baking soda, but my daughter would go into full-on rebellion.

      Weston Price reported excellent dental health in populations that had, as he put it, “green slime” on their teeth. Teeth are living things–feed ‘em right and they tend to stay healthy. The hygiene thing makes your social life easier, but that’s about it; otherwise it tends to mask underlying health problems til they’re severe.

      Dana wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • The Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is from coconut, it is found in my Xylibrite toothpaste made by natures sunshine so I am sure it is okay, but the triclosan is not in it. It is an antifungal agent polychloro phenoxy phenol. The safety of this is currently under review by the FDA so you know it is not good.

      Carol wrote on November 23rd, 2011
  18. Mark,
    Have you had any complaints about Truvia sweetner? I was using that for a couple of months and started having pain in my breasts. I have a history with some vascular problem in my one breast found thru having a thermography. Being on a yeast and sugar free diet and supplementation it cleared up in 3 years. Maybe I am susceptible for problems in that area but I sure was getting scared at the time and I know God whispered, “It’s the Truvia”. It would have never dawned on me that it was the problem. I am thinking it all cleared up within a week or 2 of stopping the use of it. Just curious if someone else out there had any issues with it.

    kim wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • Truvia is not made from stevia itself but a chemical derivative. In online low-carb forums, people have reported a number of adverse side effects that went away after they stopped consuming Truvia.

      Sonagi wrote on February 15th, 2011
      • I am so thankful for MDA and the comments you wonderful folks put on it. Just when I think I’m doing something that ‘seems’ healthy, you let me know I’m straying into dangerous territory. I’m so trasing the Truvia today!

        Sandra wrote on January 1st, 2012
  19. I used to use Xylitol fairly regularly for tea and coffee before I learned to appreciate their unsweetend states. I never had any ill effects, but a family member who tried it had intestinal distress.

    I hadn’t heard of erythritol until a few weeks ago when I came across it in a low carb recipe. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, so I appreciate your review. It sounds great for using in occasional baking and treats! :)

    Primal K@ wrote on February 15th, 2011
  20. Damn! This post should have come in time for Valentine’s Day! Well-meaning boyfriend brought me home a dark chocolate bar that was labeled with “low-carb,” “gluten free,” etc. The first ingredient was maltitol. I nibbled on a square and didn’t have that nasty sickly-sweet feeling in my mouth after a few minutes that I usually get from table sugar, and didn’t get any GI issues. But a couple of big mystery zits have appeared in key places, usually a sign that I’ve ingested dairy, grains, or excess sugar.

    Jackie wrote on February 15th, 2011
  21. I’ve heard children that chew gum or eat candy sweetened with Xylitol have fewer ear infections.

    Bryan Tanger wrote on February 15th, 2011
  22. Has anybody ever heard of Lakanto? It’s an awesome sweetner! It tastes like brown sugar.Does anybody know the real way to calculate the carb count when you eat something that has a sugar alcohol? I’ve been told a few different ways and I’m a little confused.

    Mel wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • I’d say test your blood sugar after you eat the stuff. If it elevates there’s a carb count; if not, don’t worry about it.

      Dana wrote on February 15th, 2011
  23. Thanks Mark! Our little community switched over to mostly xylitol for what sweets we produce for ourselves – your coconut treat recipe with xylitol is particularly good and we have ‘em around alot –

    it bakes very well and although it won’t make you caramel as it does not caramelize so well – it’s flavor is very clean –

    make sure you get at least GMO free corn xylitol( NOW products) or go for the real birch stuff (emerald forest) – it’s very good –

    as for the bloating, bowel issues – we notices a very little of it in the first few days but had seen advice that this goes away – it does (for all of us it did) and the result is a very nice sweetener – good taste – functions well – yea!
    Ravi

    DaiaRavi wrote on February 15th, 2011
  24. There’s a good article about Net Carbs on Mendosa.com. See http://www.mendosa.com/netcarbs.htm

    Nigel Kinbrum wrote on February 15th, 2011
  25. … and – another area, as mark mentioned, is that not only does xylitol not contribute to cavities, but several euorpean studies have shown it to actually arrest and prevent them as well – it seem the mechanism is that xylitol depresses the growth of staphylococcus mutens, the main cavity bacteria – and thereby actually actively fights dental caries.

    Over on DaiaSolgaia have an (anecdotal) account of how – when we discovered small cavities in our then-2 year old’s front teeth (from allowing her too much in-between meal fruit we think…) we have stopped totally the caries with diet adjustment (more primal!)supplementing cod liver oil and butter (as per Weston Price) and we only allow her xylitol-sweetened goodies – on top of that – a small dab of xylitol after she brushes her teeth discourages the caries bacteria. The result is – at 3 years old – the caries are no bigger and have even visibly re-mineralized – as dentin will do if given the right conditions. Enamel will not – so she is stuck with the small spots from the original damage but there is no progression-

    xylitol is cool…

    DaiaRavi wrote on February 15th, 2011
    • I bet it’s the diet more than the xylitol that did it, too. Bacteria tend to get a better foothold when you give them something easy to attack, whether that’s hard tissues or soft ones.

      Dana wrote on February 15th, 2011
      • i would agree – but we were not about to go halfway and risk NOT stopping the caries if we, in fact, could be successful –

        not quite ready to use my kid’s teeth as a study experiment – if ya know what i mean…

        DaiaRavi wrote on February 15th, 2011
        • I find I am just much better off not eating sweets….even ersatz ones with stevia or any of these. They just start me on a slippery slope of wanting more.

          I have found that having a small amount of starch with some fat included in my meal seems to satisfy me and keep my blood sugar from getting wonky …recently I have been having half a sweet potato with a small dollop of Coconut Oil as my dessert. Satisfies my sweet tooth

          Ellen Ussery wrote on February 23rd, 2012
      • Yes, but the bacteria often exists in a biofilm and:

        “Now xylitol is a sugar alcohol, but it has activity against biofilm, and this is one of the reasons why xylitol chewing gum…(from:

        http://chriskresser.com/the-highly-effective-but-little-known-treatment-for-chronic-sinusitis

        Ellen Ussery wrote on February 23rd, 2012
  26. Maltitol sucks. I only use it when I want some candy from one of the big name brands that offers a sugar-free version. I actually don’t eat candy all that often, maybe about four to six times a year at this point, and I suspect I’m overestimating. Usually at this point it’s when I really miss Jelly Bellies. And I always regret eating them afterward. OMG.

    Sorbitol’s OK I guess, but they use it in Dreamfields and if I have more than one serving I regret that later too. Not as badly as maltitol, I admit.

    I’m not that impressed by erythritol by itself. I almost can’t taste it. But it’s really good paired with stevia.

    The liquid multivitamin I use (yes, I use one) is sweetened with xylitol. It’s not vile, at least. And I have no dogs here.

    Dana wrote on February 15th, 2011
  27. The only sugar alcohol I use is xylitol and that is in the Spry chewing gum. Love the peppermint flavor.

    Is it possible that it could help with a sore throat? Twice I have had the beginning of a sore throat, chewed a couple of pieces of Spry and by the next morning the sore throat was gone. Of course it might have been the extra D and the olive leaf extract I took too.

    Anne wrote on February 15th, 2011
  28. I avoid Maltitol like the plague. But it’s really my own fault. About ten years ago now, we were all doing Atkins, and we found some fudgesicles that were low carb when we were out shopping a couple hours away from home. We were so excited, and so the three of us thought it would be a good idea to eat the *entire* box, instead of letting any melt… I think that was two, or maybe three a piece, I’m not sure. Like so many things, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    I have never been in so much pain in my life, and just thinking about it makes me queasy LOL The two hour car ride home was, I can say honestly, the worst car ride in my life. I haven’t eaten a fudgesicle or anything with Maltitol in it since.

    Erythritol is good for baking almond flour based stuff. It gives it a good texture.

    tracker wrote on February 15th, 2011
  29. I chew Glee gum with xylitol and it does give me gas and maybe a touch of constipation but I don’t chew it all the time.

    JKMichelson wrote on February 15th, 2011
  30. After being diagnosed with a corn intolerance recently, I found that almost all the sugar alcohols I had been eating for years (especially erythritol) were made from corn. And many from GMO corn. Now I react to them with a bad headache, including products like Z-Sweet and Swerve, which appear to be healthy and say that they’re non-allergenic. The only sugar alcohol I can tolerate now is birch bark xylitol from Swanson Vitamins and SmartSweet. Also, many stevia products are combined with dextrose, erythritol or corn-based xylitol so I only buy “stevia extract,” which is just 100% stevia.

    By the way, from what I’ve read Truvia is owned by Coca-Cola and developed by Cargill and is made by combining chemically modified stevia with erythritol that’s made from GMO corn. Some say that there are residues of methanol and ethanol in it. I assume that PureVia, which is owned by PepsiCo, is about the same. I will never touch either of these products, or anything like them, again.

    Laurie wrote on February 15th, 2011
  31. sugar alcohols make me feel sick! whew. 5 minutes into chewing a piece of orbitz or stride gum I can feel my stomach cramping. and back in the days when I used to eat “gummy” candy (great for hiding said alcohols) I knew two pieces in whether or not the bag was full of sugar alcohols.

    yikes. the stuff is dangerous.

    Meredith G. wrote on February 15th, 2011
  32. I would have to entirely prefer brushing my teeth than these gums. Thanks for the post anyways.

    Faith Ellens wrote on February 15th, 2011
  33. hahaha cute toothy on the pack of gum

    eltigabii wrote on February 16th, 2011
  34. Ugh…I learned my lesson with malitol…I accidently picked up sugar free dark chocolate as a quick treat before school instead of my normal 85%….and mid-way through glass my tummy started grumbling…..

    …uh oh…

    AWFUL! I felt like I was going to give birth to the chocolate devil baby, the cramps were the worst!! Luckily I made it home before anything too exciting happened but I learned my lesson. NEVER AGAIN.

    Rachel wrote on February 16th, 2011
  35. Another vote for Xylitol. I buy it by the 3lb bag online…way cheaper than local. I baked a lot of things with it (and agave nectar) at Christmas to show visiting family just how easy it is to switch to a more paleo way of eating. There was like 3/4 cup of xylitol in the lemon ice cream and I was secretly afraid it might send someone running to the bathroom but NO ONE had a problem with it.
    Gum wise-I wasn’t pleased with Spry. Spit it out out of boredom within 5 minutes of chewing. Now I buy Trident, which is partially sweetened with xylitol.

    jen duncan wrote on February 16th, 2011
  36. I have been a Sugar Free addict for years and STILL trying to quit. Still looking for the “Gum Patch”.

    A couple things always always happen when I eat ANY Sugar Free substitute except Stevia:

    1- MAJOR intestinal distress.

    2-A bloated stomach from here to eternity.

    I remove all things SF for a week and TADA! Things go back to normal.

    If it’s man made then it’s probably going to do some damage. My .02.

    Babs

    barbara wrote on February 16th, 2011
  37. Luckily for me I can not really stand the taste of things with sugar alcohol anyways. Every now and then I have a stick of sugar free gum if someone offers, but that’s about it.

    Gary Deagle wrote on February 16th, 2011
  38. Sugar Free since 1996 here and dealing with IBS, candida, maybe SIBO…anyway here’s my experience
    1. dig stevia completely

    2. reserve birch tree xylitol for special occastions when I make flourless choclate cake. Will not freeze a lemon sorbet however!

    3. Have had bowel issues with both erythritol and maltitol and avoid them and sorbitol at every turn since I don’t trust it for good reason.

    Paula Springer wrote on February 16th, 2011
  39. Oh yea.. Lets get LOHAN into this discussion. Its a sweet Chinese herb that’s got my attention for the dark brown sugar taste but since its an HERB there’s no nutrition data on it.

    Mark how can I find out the effect of LOHAN?? I bought a bottle of finely powdered stuff and it tastes great in combo with Xylitol and Stevia because it broadens the flavor notes. However hus far I’ve only toe- dipped since I only find broad claims that it is safe but I want more info.

    Paula Springer wrote on February 16th, 2011
  40. I guess I’m really lucky: never had a problem with Xylitol or Maltitol. Love both of them!

    Anne H. wrote on February 16th, 2011

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