Years ago before I knew better, I pulled into the drive-up at a TCBY (The Country’s Best Yogurt) and ordered a fat-free, sugar-free vanilla with chocolate sauce sundae. A couple of hours later, I was furiously tooting like a horn on overdrive. Curious, I hit the books (yeah, Internet was an infant) and read that sugar alcohols are what make sweet foods sweet without the calories. So folks in weight management love them. And I read, that in most folks, they are not fully digested or absorbed, meaning they pass to the large intestine for a bacteria smorgasbord. The by-product of the all-you-can-eat buffet is copious amounts of flatulence, aka farts.
And potentially diarrhea or at least softer stools. I poked around more (in the books) to see why this sudden and increased urge for diarrhea. Seems water follows these undigested polyols to the large intestine so voila, there you have it. The more water left un-absorbed in your colon, the more liquid your stool becomes. The makers of sugar alcohols seem to think that this isn’t really that big of a deal. You just need to reduce your sugar-free products to a tolerable level, then slowly increase them as your tolerance increases to reduce these often very uncomfortable side effects.
Now, isn’t that dandy advice? Eat more of something that does nothing for you. Considering polyols offer no nutritional value, and well they don’t lead to high blood sugars as a Twinkie and apple pie and cookies do. Seems the only positive quality is preventing dental caries. You could just reduce your sweets and drink lemon-spritzed water instead. Or continue to eat more and more polyols so the colony of bacteria that can metabolize the polyol grows. It’s a choice!
So you know what to look for, here’s a list of polyols. Become an avid label reader to avoid them unless musical toots (and more) bring pleasure!
- Glycerol (glycerine)