Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
February 15, 2011

Sugar Alcohols: Everything You Need to Know

By Mark Sisson
217 Comments

I’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!

TAGS:  is it primal?

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

217 Comments on "Sugar Alcohols: Everything You Need to Know"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Alison Golden
5 years 7 months ago

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

kem
kem
5 years 7 months ago

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.

CMR
CMR
2 years 4 months ago
I use Xylitol as a nose-spray. I buy it in loose, bulk form, under the branding, Xylo-Sweet. I add it to a little water in a nose-spray type bottle and it is all that I need to keep my allergies and upper-respiratory infections at bay. Xylitol is often an ingredient (primary) that is used in naturopathic nose sprays, for allergies. My home-made concoction is about 75% less expensive than buying a Xylitol-based nose-spray product. I am also experimenting with Xylitol for collagen repair and growth. So far, I have only been able to determine that my skin “likes it” for… Read more »
CMR
CMR
2 years 4 months ago

Just a comment on my reference to stevia — I know that on this thread we are comparing Xylitol to other products which specifically contain sugar-alcohols, which, stevia, I believe does not. Stevia products are produced directly from stevia-plants with no industrial processing.

I make a tea from the loose, bulk stevia-plant herb and use that as a liquid sweetener.

Sol
Sol
1 year 22 days ago
Xylitol aka Zerose (Cargill) & XIVIA (DuPont): Is a poison to canine. Created in the late 1800’s, approved by the FDA in 1963. Lots of what appears to be reputable documentation, information citing it’s benefits and safety. Please remember Aspartame, NutriSweet and Saccharin(< was produced first in 1879!) Like all predecessors this FrankenSugar is being brilliantly re-touted with all the right stuff n bloggin-forces to boot w/studies, endorsements, 1/2truths, etc. They're chemically manufactured products that involve fermentation, high heat (for sterilization & creates unnatural harmful residuals), chemicals used in part of a process (hydrogenation). FYI in late June 2015, the… Read more »
Yakov
Yakov
5 years 7 months ago

I can say that sugar alcohols (all of the mentioned) DO raise blood sugar at least in patients with type 1 diabetes.

George
George
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Dr April
Dr April
3 years 8 months ago

“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.

Eric Reinhardt
Eric Reinhardt
3 years 1 month ago

Good insights.

scott b
scott b
3 years 4 days ago
“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… Read more »
Type 1 Diabetic
Type 1 Diabetic
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Bobbi
Bobbi
3 years 11 months ago

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?

Dr April
Dr April
3 years 8 months ago

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.

Clem
Clem
2 years 4 months ago

Not true. One of the most commonly misregulated proteins in cancer cells is Glut-1, a glucose transporter protein. This protein regulates uptake of glucose into the cells (and its upregulation is partly how tumor cells survive). Thus, many tumor cells are tuned to be more sensitive to glucose. High glucose has a more profound effect on tumor cell survival than healthy cell survival.

LCC
LCC
2 years 7 months ago
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.
Jenny
Jenny
9 months 24 days ago

I would stay away from anything sweet until the tumor is gone. I have read so much about cancer and glucose. I don’t know if the tumor is cancerous ( I hope not). But I have also heard of tumors especially in the brain going away on their own w/ extremely low sugar and carb diet. Sugar feeds cancer. Take away their food source and they die. Please do your own research.

Dr April
3 years 8 months ago

Please provide a reference for this statement – I don’t believe it.

John C. A. Manley
3 years 3 months ago

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.

Alison
2 years 9 months ago

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.

Cristiano
Cristiano
1 year 7 months ago

I’m no diabetic, but hypoglycemic. And yes, maltitol made my blood sugar go rooler coaster.

Tim
Tim
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Desiree reiff
1 year 12 days ago

Wowww!!! That sounds awesome! I wish I could find it here in sc! My Dr has me on restriction from just about everything 🙁 no sweets no starches! I’m Italian and miss my spaghetti and Italian bread! I could most definetly go for some cheese cake 🙂

Roderick Meadows
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Gayle
Gayle
5 years 7 months ago

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.

moonablaze
moonablaze
5 years 7 months ago

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).

Jane
5 years 7 months ago

Try googling “Zellies gum” – full Xylitol gum, firmer than Spry, great taste. I’m lovin the chocolate mint flavor!

Mat
5 years 7 months ago

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.

trackback

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alex Shalman, Alltop Lifehacks and The Lifehack Ninja, tedtoal. tedtoal said: Sugar Alcohols: Everything You Need to Know http://bit.ly/fDhoMS […]

Simply Misguided
Simply Misguided
5 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Allan
Allan
5 years 7 months ago

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.

SuperMike
SuperMike
5 years 7 months ago
Dana
Dana
5 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Mallory
5 years 7 months ago

and infertility

Lilian
5 years 7 months ago

Check out gutsense.com and “Fiber menace” (book). Very enlightening, and funny as heck, too :^)!

Ellen Ussery
4 years 7 months ago
Sarah
Sarah
5 years 7 months ago

Erythritol is great. Erythritol + stevia is my favorite general use sweetener and I haven’t had any problems with that combination.

Vicky
Vicky
3 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
John
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Cleri
Cleri
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Debbie
Debbie
5 years 7 months ago

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!

Aris
5 years 7 months ago

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!

Graham
5 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Danielle
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Heather
Heather
5 years 7 months ago

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.

kmonsterg
kmonsterg
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Richard
Richard
4 years 3 months ago

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.

Kelly
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Ashley North
Ashley North
5 years 7 months ago

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!!

js290
js290
5 years 7 months ago

What about glycol? 😛

Adam
Adam
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Carol
Carol
4 years 10 months ago
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… Read more »
LCC
LCC
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Kelly
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Melissa Fritcher
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Mary
Mary
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Dana
Dana
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Ben
Ben
5 years 7 months ago

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”…

Gayle
Gayle
5 years 7 months ago

Wow thanks for mentioning this I am going to try it. I did no know about Clemmy’s

Gayle
Gayle
5 years 7 months ago

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

Lanita
Lanita
4 years 10 months ago

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!!

Olivia
Olivia
5 years 7 months ago

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

Primal K@
5 years 7 months ago

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).

DaiaRavi
5 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Dana
Dana
5 years 7 months ago

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.

lincsnut
5 years 7 months ago

Dana, I’d take a look at:
http://www.greenmedinfo.com/page/wicked-not-so-fresh-toms-maine-mouthwash

before continuing with your toothpaste. Eugh.

Carol
Carol
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Dianne
Dianne
2 years 4 months ago

I had an Egyptian friend who made his own toothbrushes from twigs. He lived in Illinois at the time and I think he may have used Birch for this but not sure. He would cut the end of the twig on the diagonal and then make tiny crosscuts on that end surface, forming a sort of brush. He would just rub the end on his teeth and they were perfectly white and healthy. I found a wiki article that discusses the “Teeth Cleaning Twig” as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teeth_cleaning_twig

kim
kim
5 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Sonagi
Sonagi
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Sandra
Sandra
4 years 8 months ago

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!

Primal K@
5 years 7 months ago

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! 🙂

Jackie
Jackie
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Bryan Tanger
Bryan Tanger
5 years 7 months ago

I’ve heard children that chew gum or eat candy sweetened with Xylitol have fewer ear infections.

Mel
Mel
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Dana
Dana
5 years 7 months ago

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.

DaiaRavi
5 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Nigel Kinbrum
5 years 7 months ago

There’s a good article about Net Carbs on Mendosa.com. See http://www.mendosa.com/netcarbs.htm

DaiaRavi
5 years 7 months ago
… 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… Read more »
Dana
Dana
5 years 7 months ago

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.

DaiaRavi
5 years 7 months ago

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…

Ellen Ussery
4 years 7 months ago

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
4 years 7 months ago

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

Dana
Dana
5 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Anne
Anne
5 years 7 months ago

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.

trackback

[…] post by Mark Sisson […]

tracker
5 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
JKMichelson
JKMichelson
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Laurie
Laurie
5 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Meredith G.
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Faith Ellens
5 years 7 months ago

I would have to entirely prefer brushing my teeth than these gums. Thanks for the post anyways.

trackback
5 years 7 months ago

[…] Sugar Alcohols […]

eltigabii
eltigabii
5 years 7 months ago

hahaha cute toothy on the pack of gum

Rachel
Rachel
5 years 7 months ago

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.

jen duncan
5 years 7 months ago
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,… Read more »
Allan Jackson
Allan Jackson
5 years 7 months ago

Watch out for agave nectar. It’s almost all fructose (worse than HFCS). https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Agave_nectar#Composition

barbara
5 years 7 months ago

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

Gary Deagle
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Paula Springer
Paula Springer
5 years 7 months ago

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
Paula Springer
5 years 7 months ago

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.

Anne H.
Anne H.
5 years 7 months ago

I guess I’m really lucky: never had a problem with Xylitol or Maltitol. Love both of them!

The Primalist
5 years 7 months ago
I don’t consider myself a “purist” by any means.. and although I don’t always succeed in staying away from sugar, I never knowingly ingest any of these alternative sweeteners.. there’s more to health than just blood sugar, insulin, etc.. as mentioned in the post, xylitol for example, is manufactured mostly from either hardwood or corn (from wikipedia: Xylitol is produced by hydrogenation of xylose, which converts the sugar (an aldehyde) into a primary alcohol.).. doesn’t sound very natural to me.. if I choose to make a treat, I use a little bit of honey or maple syrup.. I’m in no… Read more »
Steve
Steve
5 years 7 months ago

I wonder if adding xylitol in a smoothie containing fruit could mitigate the effects fructose may have on your dental health. I read that it helps regulate pH in the mouth, which could be beneficial since fructose is acidic? Or is it alkaline, cause I thought that only occurred in the body.

That’s if fructose does have any effect on teeth within the mouth, or just all damage is resulted in the blood sugar spike it creates.

cathyx
cathyx
5 years 7 months ago

I can only tolerate sugar alcohols in small amounts, as in a couple of pieces of gum. More than that creates intestinal issues.

But has anyone had a problem with mouth sores from sugarless gum? If I chew sugarless gum daily, which I would when I exercise because it keeps my mouth from getting dry, then I will develop canker sores in my mouth. Regular gum doesn’t do that, so I switched to that.

trackback
5 years 7 months ago

[…] Sugar Alcohols – Everything You Need To Know […]

Lee
Lee
5 years 7 months ago

I only chew Xylitol sweetened gum. As far as cooking.. depending on sweetness required I use a combinattion of stevia and Xylitol or just Xylitol with very good results. If the item I am making only needs to be mildly sweet I can use more stevia since when I use it in high doses it has an aftertaste. With Xylitol you can’t tell the difference from table sugar.

Mary
Mary
5 years 7 months ago

I was always suspect of the “sugar free” sweetened things, they made me feel like crap (literally) every time I ate them. Chewing gum makes me feel bloated and gassy…. I know some of that is the air I am swallowing, but I suspect it is also the sweeteners.

I am really physically sensitive to artificial flavorings (savory or sugary) so I usually avoid them and go natural (honey, sugar, spice, salt) in small amounts.

Nathan
5 years 7 months ago

I used to Protein bars with sugar alcohols but had to stop because they gave “intestinal issues” and did not help me lose weight at all.

wpDiscuz