Are xylitol, sorbitol, and other sugar alcohols a safe replacement for sugar?
Xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol are polyols, or sugar alcohols, which are commonly found in fruits. They’re also found in tree bark and vegetables. They tend to be some digestible, although some are partly digestible, and some are indigestible.
Some sugar alcohols are fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, so keep that in mind.
Studies have indeed shown no serious side effects from these products, even if people are consuming three to four ounces of xylitol a day for two years. Apart from a bit of gastric distress, a bit of diarrhea or bloating or gas, they didn’t have any problems with it.
Why I don’t recommend regular use of sugar alcohols is because they can get people hooked on a sweet taste.
The only sweetening agents I would use in my house would be honey from my own beehives, or pure maple syrup, and even then in moderation.
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It’s not a great idea to get hooked on sweet foods. It’s going to disrupt the gut. It’s only going to cause problems down the track. There’s definitely some research demonstrating that sugar alcohols may potentially push people into craving more sugar.
I recommend integrating bitter and sour foods into your diet. You’ll still enjoy sweet foods but no so much.
Do I think that sugar alcohols are a safe replacement for sugar?
Well, I think they are. These sorts of sugars are certainly safer than the artificial sweeteners that are widely researched and shown to be linked with many different problems, including brain dysfunction.
I certainly endorse xylitol and stevia as natural sugars. There’s very robust evidence that xylitol has a great effect on stopping streptococcus mutans, or the plaque formation on teeth.
Even though sugar alcohols are okay, I still suggest you don’t overdo it.
Try not to get used to anything really sweet in life. You’re going to enjoy your food a lot more if you don’t have this constant need to have something sweet in your diet.
If you do want something sweet, have berries. Berries are quite sweet to eat and they also contain phytochemicals that provide health benefits.
Try and take the focus off of having sweets. Make your diet about enjoying food for other reasons.