What is erythritol?
Erythritol is known as a "sugar alcohol" as it has characteristics of sugar and alcohol (though it contains neither).
To produce erythritol, corn or wheat starch is used. Erythritol is the byproduct of fermentation of these grains with the help of mutant strains bacteria. These mutant strains are known as Aureobasidium sp. and Pseudozyma tsukubaensis.
When this fermentation occurs, what's left over is a powdery white crystal, ultra-sweet substance known as erythritol.
The Problems with Erythritol
High doses of erythritol have been linked to stomach upset, headaches, and allergic reactions. In particular, erythritol may cause diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort, and bloating.
Additionally, research has suggested that erythritol may have a negative effect on oral health, as it has been shown to reduce the levels of beneficial bacteria in the mouth.
- Erythritol may come from corn or wheat and often these are GMO (genetically modified) and sprayed with glyphosate (a toxic herbicide linked to many health conditions and detrimental effect on the gut microbiome). Most erythritol is sourced from China and often contains glyphosate residues.
- Sugar alcohols can cause digestive issues so if you want healthy gut and digestive function, it is best to steer clear of all sugar alcohols - including erythritol. Other sugar alcohols include xylitol, manitol, maltitol, sorbitol and lactitol.
- If you have problems with FODMAPS, you will have trouble with alcohol sugars. Alcohol sugars are also known as 'polyols'. Polyols are found in artificial sweeteners but also in some plant foods (fruits and veggies).
To learn more about FODMAPS, please see our blog here.
What is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is a herbicide used to kill weeds and has been linked to a variety of health concerns. To learn more about how glyphosate can affect health, be sure to read out blog here.
It is important to read the labels of the products you purchase to ensure that the product does not contain any glyphosate residue. Additionally, purchasing certified organic erythritol ensures that the product is free from glyphosate residues.
The problem is that most erythritol products on the market are not organic.
Some studies have also suggested that erythritol intake may be linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. For example, a study in mice found that erythritol intake was linked to an increased risk of esophageal cancer.
However, more research is needed to determine the link between erythritol and cancer in humans.
Below is a study that have looked at the potential risks of erythritol:
- A study in mice found that erythritol intake was linked to an increased risk of esophageal cancer (https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/32/1/48/2405100) -
The negative effects of xylitol Xylitol is a sugar substitute that has been shown to have health benefits, but there are also some potential negative side effects. The most common side effects of xylitol are headaches/migraines and digestive problems, such as gas, bloating, and diarrhoea.
A Harvard Health study revealed that Xylitol consumption has also been shown to cause weight gain! This is due to the fact that it is unnaturally sweet and trains the body to carve and this may see a person eating more than usual or craving high carbohydrate foods.
Some people may also experience an allergic reaction, such as hives or skin rash. Additionally, xylitol can be toxic to animals, especially dogs, so it should be kept away from them.
Finally, xylitol should be used in moderation as it can affect blood sugar levels.
The negative effects of stevia Despite stevia's reputation as a "natural" sweetener, there are potential risks associated with its use.
First, the safety of stevia has not been definitively established. While it has been approved as a food additive in many countries, the long-term effects of its use are unknown.
Some studies have suggested that it may interfere with hormone production, although these results have not been replicated.
Additionally, some studies suggest that it may cause reproductive issues, although further research is needed.
Finally, stevia may interact with certain medications, so it is important to consult a doctor before using.
So what can I use instead?
Pure monk fruit sweetener in powder form. It’s sweet so you don’t need much. A bag will last you a long time as a little goes a long way!
Benefits of monk fruit:
1. Low in Calories
2. Zero Glycemic Index:
3. Rich in Antioxidants
4. May Have Anti-Inflammatory Effects
5. Contains Nutrients
6. Natural Sweetener
To learn more about the benefits of monk fruit, please read our Monk fruit blog here.
Disclaimer: This article is strictly informational and not intended as health advice. Statements made have not been evaluated by the TGA and are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent. One should always consult with their trusted health professional before adding a new supplement to their diet.