Are Sugar Alcohols Safe For Children?

4 Dose-response studies have shown that consuming a lot of commercial sugar alcohols might cause gastrointestinal problems such flatulence, cramps, and diarrhea. Sugar alcohols added to processed meals are usually not items that should be served to youngsters.

What is sugar alcohol Kids?

Sugar alcohols can be found in a variety of processed foods, ranging from protein bars to children’s snacks. They’re recommended by dentists as a healthier alternative to sugary gums and candies, and they’re promoted as such “It’s natural.” As a parent, you might be wondering if sugaralcohols are safe for children.

Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates, but they are neither sugar nor alcohol in the strictest sense. Because they have a structure comparable to sugar, our taste senses recognize them as sweet. The distinction is at least one alcohol group in the chemical makeup, which is why they are known to chemists as sugaralcohols or polyols.

Sugar alcohols are found in small levels in nature. Despite the fact that they have been there for a long time, they are only now becoming increasingly prevalent in our diet due to a variety of circumstances.

To begin with, sugar is currently in the spotlight, taking the place of fats as the bad guy. Fats were found to be hazardous for our health in the late 1970s, and the American diet underwent a drastic adjustment to reduce fat. Food was laden with sugar instead of fat, and average sugar consumption climbed significantly between 1980 and 2000.

Instead of being healthier, people became sicker and more diseased. Experts blame the obesity pandemic and the growth in other chronic diseases on an increase in sugar consumption. Sugar has become the new villain, and as a result of this shift in mentality, sugar intake has decreased marginally in recent years.

While the reduction in sugar consumption is a positive step, we are increasingly employing sugar substitutes such as sugar alcohols to sweeten foods while using less sugar. This has also resulted in FDA-mandated revisions to dietary food labeling.

The second reason sugar alcohols are becoming more popular is because of new laws. See my video for a more extensive explanation of how the new labeling will affect the addition of sugar alcohols “What Are Sugar Alcohols?” you might wonder.

Sugar alcohols come in a variety of forms, the most prevalent of which are xylitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and erythritol (note that most sugar alcohols end in -ol). This is a quick and easy approach to locate them in the ingredient list.) The FDA approves any sugar alcohol used in food depending on the data provided. This means that firms who make or want to use these compounds have supplied confirmation that sugar alcohols pose no known health risk to the best of their knowledge.

However, there are known negative effects. The body is not suited to absorb most of these sugaralcohols since the carbohydrate is chemically different from conventional sugars. As a result, a large portion of the molecule ends up in the gut, causing digestive difficulties such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea. This is especially true for sensitive people, but it can happen to anyone who drinks too much sugar alcohol.

Many research are being conducted to see how sugar alternatives, such as sugar alcohols, affect the gut microbiota, and preliminary evidence suggests that sugar alcohols may change gut microorganisms. There are no long-term research available to confirm whether long-term sugar alcohol consumption is safe, especially for children. While the FDA has approved sugar alcohols for use in food, the safety of adding such a big quantity to our food supply is unknown.

When determining whether sugaralcohol is safe for children, there is one fact that parents should be aware of.

Natural foods do not include sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are generated in a lab by passing a sugar molecule through a chemical procedure to add the alcohol groups. As a result, “The term “natural” refers to a sugar replacement that is not derived from natural sources. While I am a big admirer of “Better living through chemistry,” I feel that nutritious food is not created in a laboratory.

Because our children develop so quickly, they require a high-quality, whole-food diet in order to mature into healthy adults. They will be healthier if they consume fewer processed meals. Sugar alcohols aren’t found in a menu of healthy, natural foods, so why would we offer kids a processed food product consisting of chemicals they clearly don’t need?

See our post Eating Healthy this New Year? for tips on how to get your kids to eat and enjoy healthier meals. How to Persuade Your Children to Join You.

Is erythritol harmful to children?

Erythritol, xylitol, stevia leaf extracts, and neotame are the best and safest sugar substitutes—with a few caveats:

  • Large amounts of this sugar alcohol (greater than roughly 40 or 50 grams or 10 or 12 teaspoons) can produce nausea, but lesser amounts are OK. (Sensitivities differ from person to person.) Erythritol, which is found in small amounts in various fruits, is around 60 to 70% sweeter than table sugar and contains only one-twentieth the calories. Erythritol, unlike the high-potency sweeteners, has the heft and “mouthfeel” of sugar.
  • Xylitol: This sugar alcohol found in birch and other plants is nearly as sweet as table sugar but has only about a third of the calories. Too much xylitol (about 30–40 grams or 7–10 teaspoons, depending on sensitivity) might cause constipation and/or gastrointestinal irritation.
  • Stevia leaf extracts: Stevia leaves have been taken in Japan for a long time, and we consider the extracts generated from those leaves to be safe, however more safety testing (particularly long-term cancer tests) is needed. That’s because, despite the fact that several stevia-related compounds induced DNA mutations and other abnormalities in short-term tests, stevia has only been examined for cancer in one species (rat) rather than the two normally suggested.
  • Neotame: This is also one of the safest sugar alternatives, although its use is limited due to taste issues.

If you discover that different sugar alternatives taste better in different foods, have a few on hand. However, while any sweetener can be used in a chilled beverage, you’ll need a sweetener that can withstand the heat for baking (not aspartame). To make up for the volume of missing sugar, you may need to use xylitol or a sugar-substitute product that includes maltodextrin (made from cornstarch) or another bulking ingredient in baking. (Maltodextrin is completely harmless.)

Sucralose comes with a warning label. The same group that discovered that aspartame causes cancer also discovered that sucralose causes leukemia in animals exposed to it from birth, but has yet to publish its findings.

Aspartame is at the top of our list of sugar alternatives to avoid since it has been linked to cancer in three separate studies with lab rats and mice. A substance that has been demonstrated to cause cancer in animals should be expected to represent a cancer risk to humans, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer and government agencies around the world.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should ban aspartame based on these studies. We also advise against using saccharin due to conflicting evidence from human and animal research that it may raise the risk of cancer. Acesulfame-potassium (acesulfame-K) is also on our “avoid” list because two industry-sponsored studies in rats conducted in the 1970s revealed it could cause cancer, and it lacks high-quality, modern-day safety research.

Because their bodies are still developing and they have a longer time to exhibit a condition like cancer with a long latency period, it is especially vital for youngsters to avoid eating any drugs that may pose a risk of cancer or other chronic effects. As a result, we advise parents to keep their kids away from aspartame, acesulfame-K, cyclamate (available in Canada), saccharin, and sucralose.

Erythritol is one of the safest sugar replacements for kids, yet too much might cause nausea. The other sugar alcohols are safe for children in little amounts, but too much can induce diarrhea. Neotame, despite its infrequent use, appears to be safe.

We advise pregnant women to make a concerted effort to avoid artificial sweeteners, as two Scandinavian studies have linked artificially sweetened beverages to pre-term birth. Although aspartame and acesulfame-K are the most extensively used artificial sweeteners in those nations, the research were unable to distinguish between them.

Sugar replacements have no carbohydrates and, according to most research, do not raise blood sugar levels (saccharin may be an exception for some people). Even if they claim to be “sugar-free,” “reduced sugar,” or “no sugar added,” foods containing them are not necessarily carbohydrate-free or low in carbohydrates.

On food containers, always read the Nutrition Facts panel and the ingredient list. Bulking agents like dextrose and maltodextrin may be present in sugar replacements sold as table-top sweeteners, for example. These components provide a modest quantity of carbohydrate to the dish (and calories).

Sugar alcohols do supply calories, although not as much as sugar, and have a lower blood sugar effect than other carbs. Drinks, sweets, and other items containing sugar alternatives may still include a lot of calories, so read the label carefully. If you consume a lot of these goods, the calories might quickly pile up.

People with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic condition, have a hard time metabolizing phenylalanine, which is found in both aspartame and advantame, and should avoid it. PKU is checked on all newborn newborns. To help patients with PKU avoid aspartame, the FDA requires that all packaged foods containing it be labeled “PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENYLALANINE.” Because advantame is so much sweeter than aspartame, a lot less amount is used, and hence the FDA does not need that disclaimer on goods containing advantame.

Consumers can report non-emergency adverse reactions to FDA-regulated items, such as food and food additives like sugar replacements, through a program called MedWatch. The FDA suggests that people contact their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator. The phone number can be found on the FDA’s website.

If you think you’re having an allergic response to a sugar replacement or another food ingredient, keep track of what you consume, when you eat it, and what symptoms you have and when you have them. This, along with reading food labels carefully, may help you figure out what’s causing the reaction and avoid the problematic item.

Digestive issues

The main issue with sugar alcohols is that they can cause gastrointestinal adverse effects in people with and without digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), especially when ingested in excessive doses.

Because your body can’t digest most of them, they end up in your large intestine, where microorganisms in your stomach break them down.

As a result, consuming a large amount of sugar alcohols in a short period of time may cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Most people who ingest less than 10 grams of sorbitol, for example, will experience only minor digestive difficulties such as gas and bloating. However, consuming more than 20 grams can result in serious digestive problems, such as pain and diarrhea (2).

Other sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, can also cause symptoms, therefore it’s better to avoid them in excessive quantities (12, 20).

Furthermore, several sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol and mannitol, are classified as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols).

These are carbs that your gut struggles to absorb, which might cause gastrointestinal problems in certain people.

Sugar alcohols, with the exception of erythritol, should be avoided by people who are sensitive to FODMAPs. Erythritol is not a high FODMAP component and is generally well tolerated (21, 22).

Xylitol is toxic to dogs

When dogs eat xylitol, their bodies misinterpret it as sugar and produce a lot of insulin.

When insulin levels rise, the cells in dogs’ bodies begin to extract sugar from their bloodstream. Low blood sugar and other side effects are possible, including liver failure, which can be deadly (23).

This reaction appears to be exclusive to dogs, and xylitol appears to be the sole cause.

Dogs are poisoned by xylitol. If you have a dog, ensure sure xylitol is kept out of reach. This is not the case with other sugar alcohols.

Can toddlers have sugar free drinks?

Sugar-free drinks, in general, provide minimal benefits to children and adults, and study is ongoing to see if they have any health risks. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children of all sizes focus on water as their primary beverage. If a youngster prefers diet soda or sugar-free juice, these drinks can be used as a reward but should be treated the same as their sugar-containing equivalents. Furthermore, regardless of a child’s size, this is the suggestion.

What do sugar alcohols do to the body?

Sugar alcohols also give texture to dishes, help them maintain moisture, and keep them from browning when heated. Sugar alcohols, unfortunately, have certain drawbacks. When sugar alcohols are used in large quantities, the most typical negative effects include bloating and diarrhea.

Are sugar alcohols healthy?

When it comes to diabetes management, sugar alcohols can be a component of a healthy food plan. Sugar alcohols, unlike artificial sweeteners, are a type of carb that can boost blood sugar levels, though not as much as sugar.

In your total food plan, you’ll need to keep track of carbs and calories from sugar alcohols. Meals labeled “sugar free” or “no sugar added” may appear to be “free” foods that you can eat as much as you like, but consuming too much of these can cause dangerously high blood sugar levels.

Subtract half of the sugar alcohol grams from total carb grams if you’re counting carbs and the food includes more than 5 grams of sugar alcohols. Do the following calculations if the label says “Total Carbohydrate 25 g” and “Sugar Alcohol 10 g”:

With one exception: if erythritol is the sole sugar alcohol listed, Total Carbohydrate should be reduced by the amount of sugar alcohol listed.

If you need assistance making a food plan or controlling carbs, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist.

Is stevia safe for kids?

Stevia, a zero-calorie sweetener derived from plants, can be used by the entire family to experience the flavor of sweetness without adding calories. These approvals include the fact that high purity stevia extract is safe for children, pregnant women, and diabetics to use.

What are the dangers of erythritol?

Despite the fact that this artificial sweetener is not broken down by the body, it can have a number of negative side effects. Digestion issues and diarrhea are common erythritol side effects. Bloating, cramps, and gas are other possible side effects. Furthermore, erythritol and other sugar alcohols cause diarrhea by creating an increase in water in the intestines. Nausea and headaches are also possible side effects. The latter symptom is frequently caused by dehydration as a result of severe diarrhea.

All sugar alcohols have the laxative effect that the drug is known for. To experience these benefits, you must ingest a considerable dose of erythritol. According to one study, ingesting half a gram of the sweetener per pound of body weight is safe and does not cause negative effects. In general, you’ll have troubles if you consume more than 18 grams. However, because no two human bodies are comparable, consuming 18 grams or more of the chemical may have an effect on you but not on your friend or neighbor.

Overeating is yet another potential side effect of this sweetener. It may deceive your brain into thinking you are still hungry because it is not metabolized by the body. Given that the chemical is often used in sugar-free and other “diet” meals, this is an amusing side effect.

What is the healthiest sugar substitute?

That’s why we asked dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDCES, to rank the best and worst sweeteners so you can figure out which is best for you and how to (finally) break your sweet tooth.

Fresh or frozen fruit

Using fresh or frozen fruit is the number one technique to sweeten your food and beverages.

Fruit contains no unnecessary calories, making it a great sweetener, according to Taylor.

Try adding banana or applesauce to oatmeal, berries to plain Greek yogurt, or frozen fruit to smoothies to sweeten them. Natural flavorings like vanilla or almond extract, cocoa powder, and spices like cinnamon and clove are another option.

“I grew raised on a high-sugar diet. “I started enjoying the natural sweetness of fresh berries and melon when I cut back on additional sweets and sweeteners,” Taylor explains. “My sugar cravings began to fade at that point.”

Sugar substitutes

Not only does stevia-based sweetener have no calories, but it is also natural rather than artificial. Stevia combined with erythritol (Truvia), a sugar alcohol, works well in low-carb baked goods as well. Taylor recommends combining 1 teaspoon of the sweetener with plain Greek yogurt and peanut butter for a quick and easy sweet treat.

Artificial sweeteners and stevia are better than real sugar if you have prediabetes or diabetes.

“Artificial sweeteners do not spike your blood sugar as quickly as real sugar,” Taylor explains.