By Lauren Denos: 6/22/2015 (Nutrition)

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is manufactured from yeast. I have read multiple reports on this product, and many say that the body processes it well and therefore does not cause the bloating or intestinal issues that other sugar alcohols do. Some reports claim the opposite. It has also been said that the body absorbs this sugar alcohol very slowly so your body does not experience blood sugar spikes. Unfortunately, there are not many studies available on this product. As in anything, if you decided to test out this product, do it in moderation.

Fructose also known as fruit sugar. This is not the same as high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is found in fruit, vegetables and honey. If you are getting fructose in your diet from eating fresh fruits and vegetables then you are probably not over doing it (unless you eat tons and tons of really sweet fruit all day). The problem with any sweetener is when we start adding it to other foods. When you see fructose added to things that it would not naturally be in, its effects will be just like regular sugar, or some claim even worse than regular sugar. Yes, fructose is low on the glycemic scale, but remember the glycemic content is not the only thing that can affect your blood sugar levels. Fructose in its refined form can be more insidious than glucose (table sugar) because it will not raise your insulin (the thing that allows sugar to be used for energy) levels. In other words, you have unbridled sugar running amuck in your system with nothing to keep it under control except your liver. Very little of the refined fructose can be absorbed by you intestines, which means most of it is processed by you liver. This, in turn, can be turned into fat. There are many studies talking about many issues with fructose, but let’s just say you should avoid this as much as possible.

Galactose is less sweet than normal sugar. It can all be created from glucose within the body. It is not as popular of a sweetener additive since it does not dissolve well. Galactose is considered an essential sugar, and it's called brain fuel as it is a preferred source of energy for many functions in your body especially the brain. Although, you do not need to add this sweetener to your foods to get it into your diet. This natural occurring sugar is present in many vegetables, fruits and dairy.

Glycerol (aka. vegetable glycerin) belongs to the alcohol family and is derived from oils and fats. It is kind of crazy when you look at how many things glycerol is in, and not all of it is food. Glycerol is used in coatings like automotive enamels and house paint. It is also used in lotions, serums vaccines and at one point it's single biggest use as as antifreeze for cars. As if those were shockers for something that can double as a sweetener, Glycerin reacted with nitric and sulfuric acid forms the explosive nitroglycerin. Believe it or not the same thing that was used in all these things I just talked about was also used as a softening agent for baked goods, plasticizers in shortening and stabilizers in ice cream. When you hear all that it is used in, you would think it would obviously be horrible to your health. However, so far the biggest issue that is being reported is the risk of dehydration if it is not ingested with enough water.

Some athletes will use this as a way to stay extra hydrated since it absorbs water. So people will take it with abundant amounts of water to up fluid levels. Although it is also said to dehydrate you if you use a lot of it without liquids. Because it helps retain more fluids, it also has been reported to help athletes stay cool when training in hot environments. As with anything, you must know what works with you. Some people have had diarrhea, nausea or headaches after consuming glycerol. General guidelines say 1 gm of glycerol per kilogram of body weight and to drink at least 20-25 milliliters of water with each gram.

Invert Sugar or simple syrup is a mixture of glucose (dextrose) and fructose produced from sugar (sucrose) by application of heat and sometimes an acid like lemon juice or cream of tartar. Invert sugar tends to be used in many products especially baked goods because of the smoother consistency it yields. It can be made to varying thickness so it can be adapted to cooking needs. Unfortunately, this sweetener is going to be like eating regular table sugar. So if you think it is healthier because it is clear and is called simple syrup, it’s not. It is just like table sugar, but sometimes even sweeter.

Maltitol (aka. polyol) is a sugar alcohol. It is generally recommended not to ingest more than 50 grams a day since it can have a laxative effect. It is produced from malitol, which is from wheat or corn. Maltitol is lower on the glycemic index than sugar but is still around a 35. Because it is from wheat, those with extreme sensitivities may want to be careful with this one.

Maltose, or malt sugar, is much less sweet than regular sugar, but with a glycemic index of about 105! Thus, if you have blood sugar issues, stay away!! It is created from malted barley and is mainly used in baking and brewing. It is generally not a sweetener that is used by itself, but in conjunction with others. Unless you are a brewer, there is not much of a reason to reach for this sweetener.

Saccharin was the first artificial sweetener to be discovered. It was discovered in 1870 by accident by a scientist looking to create a food preservative. Saccharin was previously taken off the market because studies showed that it created urinary bladder cancer in laboratory rats. It has since been said that the effect was only in rats and that humans have no risk of this. There have since been more than 30 human tests done with saccharin with no ill effects. Many still believe that despite these tests that the sweetener is toxic for human beings. Personally, I think there are so many better alternatives out there, that there is no reason to use this anyways.

Sorbitol (aka. glucitol) is a sugar alcohol. It is slow metabolizing and is derived from corn, seaweed and fruit. It is considered a safe alternative for people with blood sugar problems. For people with intestine sensitivities, it is better to say clear of this one since it can have a laxative effect. In fact it is used as a laxative medically. Long term use of sorbitol can interfere with vitamin B12 absorption.

My personal top picks on this list would be Stevia for people who have blood sugar problems and raw honey and coconut sugar for those with no blood sugar problems, since they have so many other nutrients in them.

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