Erythritol is a nonnutritive sweetener (NNS) or artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute. It is naturally found in fruits as well as wine, beer, and cheese. It can also be manufactured in laboratories with the help of GMOs.
Erythritol is safe when consumed in moderation, according to the FDA. There are, however, certain adverse events that are associated with excessive use.
What are the side effects of erythritol?
Excessive intake of erythritol may cause:
- Diarrhea or increased stool frequency
- Worsened symptoms of:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Allergic reactions, which can cause:
The consumption of all NNS including erythritol is associated with bacterial dysbiosis. This means that NNS can potentially kill good bacteria in the gut and change its microbiome. The extent to which each NNS affects the microbial gut biome is different and subject to further research.
However, this can hypothetically impact the brain-gut signaling and cause the following consequences in the long term:
- Impaired insulin sensitivity
- Increased insulin resistance
- Food cravings and associated weight gain
- Abnormal lipid profile
These changes may make people susceptible to metabolic diseases, such as:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Abnormal lipid profile
You should also avoid erythritol if intending to undergo bariatric surgery. NNS may dampen your sweet taste threshold and affect your satiety post-surgery.
Is erythritol the same as stevia?
Erythritol is not the same as stevia. Both belong to the NNS category, but erythritol is an alcohol produced by the fermentation of sugars while stevia is obtained from the leaves of a shrub called Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni).Other NNS include sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, thaumatin, brazzein, and luo han guo fruit (monk fruit) extract.
Is erythritol a carcinogen?
The FDA has approved erythritol as a sweetener since 2001. There is no current evidence that erythritol causes cancer, but as it is a relatively new NNS, further research is needed.
Though it is declared safe for pregnant and lactating women, it is best to consult with your gynecologist before consuming NNS.
There are no official guidelines regarding erythritol consumption, but most people can safely ingest about 1 gram of erythritol per 2 pounds of body weight a day.
What is the safest artificial sweetener to use?
While the DDA has declared all nonnutritive sweeteners safe for consumption, no sugar substitute is better than others. Moderation is the key.
Consumption of excess sugar can cause weight gain, food cravings, blood sugar spikes, and fatty liver. Glucotoxicity can eventually increase the risk of developing diabetes mellitus and damage organs, including the liver and blood vessels.
Though honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and dates are often touted as healthier alternatives to table sugar, studies have found no significant benefits to these over table sugar.
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