Sugar Free Foods and Stomach Bloating Connection
There are many reasons why people choose a sugar free diet. One of the most popular reasons is to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the management of diabetes. Others may choose a sugar free diet in an effort to lose weight or keep from gaining weight. A big part of a sugar free diet is the incorporation of special foods that still allow for the intake of some sweets without wrecking an entire diet or causing blood sugar levels to spike erratically. These foods are commonly referred to as sugar free foods, although the claim is a little misleading. Many of these foods use sugar alcohols, most of which are found in plants, for their sweet flavor.
Sugar alcohols are popular in gums and candies and may appear on nutrition labels under the names maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, isomalt or mannitol, however they are all the same thing. Although they are called alcohols, they are not the same as the alcohol that is found in wine and beer. However, there is some relation to the adult libations that we commonly associate with the term, and that is fermentation. Sugar alcohols, like those found in sugar free foods, cause fermentation in the intestinal tract, a process which attracts water. Why do these sugar substitutes create intestinal fermentation? Well, it is because the body simply cannot digest them. This process can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like stomach bloating, gas and even diarrhea.
Everybody is different, but it is not uncommon for those with more sensitive digestive tracts to be particularly susceptible to the side effects arising from the consumption of sugar free foods containing sugar alcohols. For instance, those with irritable bowel syndrome may be especially susceptible to the sensations of bloating and excessive stomach gas that sugar alcohols can produce. Additionally, those with other existing health conditions may also encounter an increased sensitivity to the sweeteners.
Persons with fructose malabsorption syndrome may also have a tough time avoiding the symptoms that can come with eating foods made with sugar alcohols. When fructose intolerance is present, many sufferers turn to sugar free foods in an effort to avoid those containing fructose, which can cause their symptoms. However, opting for fructose free foods that still contain sugar alcohols may not be suitable in some of these people because symptoms similar to those encountered when fructose is consumed may present, such as bloating and gas.
Interestingly enough there is yet another reason that sugar alcohols can be bad for intestinal business. In some individuals that have bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, a new theory suggests that it is possible that the undigested sugar alcohol may serve as food for the bacteria. This can lead to new or worsening symptoms in individuals with already compromised digestive systems.
Additionally, those that are trying to avoid the consumption of gassy foods should steer clear of sugar free options. Even in healthy individuals that do not have malabsorption conditions or digestive troubles such as IBS, sugar free foods may still cause symptoms. For instance, gum is not often considered a very high ranker on the list of gassy foods, but the combination of sugar substitutes found in chewing gum combined with the air swallowing activity of enjoying it can contribute to massive amounts of intestinal and stomach gas formation.
Whether blessed with a healthy digestive system or dealing with the druthers of a compromised one, sugar alcohols are one of the most common bloating causes. Their indigestible nature ensures that even the sturdiest of intestines will face some difficulty in just figuring out what to do with them. While sugar free foods are a huge help to people who want to enjoy sweets but either can not or choose not to, they are also some of the biggest culprits for foods that cause bloating and gas, and should be eliminated if they are causing gastrointestinal distress.