Sugar alcohols are a popular sugar substitute, especially in things like chewing gum and prepackaged foods. There are many names and types of sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, xylitol and many others. Honestly, they’ve become so commonplace that sugar alcohols can even be found in some dog treats. I wholeheartedly recommend you not feed your dog treats that contain sorbitol; our furry friends are more apt to develop the oh-so-familiar gas and diarrhea that accompanies sugar alcohol consumption.
While sugar alcohols are regarded as safe by the FDA, and provide sweetness with far fewer calories than table sugar, they are not without consequence. Especially when consumed in large amounts, it is very common to develop horrible gas, stomach cramps and other digestive woes such as diarrhea and loose stools. You’re honestly better off eating a smaller portion of regular chocolate than the whole box of sugar-free.
Food manufacturers tend to prefer sugar alcohols to artificial sweeteners like sucralose or aspartame for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that most people prefer the taste of sugar alcohols. Another is that sugar alcohols can be used to add bulk and texture to prepackaged foods, as well as prevent browning. You would be surprised by how many foods slip sugar alcohols into their ingredients!
So are sugar alcohols good or bad?
Well, for a number of people, even a small amount of sugar alcohols can induce a variety of digestive problems. And when sugar alcohols are consumed in quantity, the vast majority of people will experience gas, bloating or diarrhea. The FDA actually requires products that contain more than 2 ounces of sorbitol to have a warning label.
That may tell you all you need to know about sugar alcohols. They aren’t inherently bad for you – some sugar alcohols are actually naturally occurring in plants – but too much isn’t good for you either.