Sugar Substitutes and Stomach Problems
As food manufacturers try to compete with each other in the marketplace, one of the biggest areas of competition is health. Of course, flavor is important. However, with today’s health conscious consumers, lower calories and reduced sugar content sells products, and food makers are getting the message loud and clear. One way in which they are getting around the flavor to sugar compromise is by using sugar substitutes. These products are not made from the sugar cane that most people are familiar, with and they have a wide variety of confusing and intriguing names and name brands.
People that are on a sugar free diet are also subject to edible containing false sugars. Most of the time, a diet that does not allow for sugar intake or requires a dramatically reduced sugar intake is due to a health condition, such as diabetes. Those that are on a sugar free diet often find that sugar substitutes provide a way to enjoy everyday foods that would typically be eliminated from their restricted diets thanks to alternative and similar sugar free foods that use fake sugar in the place of the real thing.
However, while sweet substitutes may have some benefits such as reducing caloric intake, there are also some potential pitfalls to the “less than scientifically evaluated for safety” products are concerned. Initial lab tests in rodents showed some very problematic potential side effects to two popular sweeteners (aspartame and Splenda) that went largely unnoticed by food and health regulators. This is only further compounded by a lack of human testing data in terms of consumption safety of sugar substitutes.
Essentially, the majority of commonly reported side effects of these types of alternative sweeteners are gastrointestinal in nature. However, issues relating to the bladder and mood have been reported. Aches in the muscles and swelling in various parts of the body may be related to excessive consumption of substitute sugar products in some cases. Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest that various choices for sugar swaps like those found in soda drinks and chewing gum may also contribute to the development of migraine headaches.
However, the majority of side effect complaints stemming from sugar substitutes are nearly predominantly related to the stomach and digestive system. Particularly, this comes in the form of abdominal gas. When substitute sugars are consumed, they head the same place that food does, to the stomach to be digested. However, much in the same way that occurs with fiber, the body can not digest the sweeteners. Unfortunately, while this may be great news for calorie counters or those on restrictive diets, the abdominal gas produced sometimes from sugar substitute consumption can lead to unpleasant adverse effects. Abdominal gas can build up in the abdomen which can lead to pain, discomfort and cramping. In some cases, diarrhea can accompany the gas resulting from the side effects of sugar substitutes.
Since the gut does not technically consider alternatives for the sweet stuff as food, and the large majority of it does not get digested. How much of it does get digested really depends on the individual and the health overall of their G.I. tract. Guts that can not cope may find that sugar substitutes are one of the most common causes of bloating. Between the persistent abdominal gas as well as the potential for stomach bloating, sugar substitutes can cause an incredible amount of discomfort in the abdomen, and unfortunately may lead to excessive flatulence. This abundance of gassiness is also a result of the undigested parts of the stand in sweeteners that contribute to undesirable stomach symptoms.
Regulation and testing for the safety of food additives like sugar substitutes is much different than the foods that are bought in grocery stores that are regulated by the FDA. Unfortunately, the limited amount of time that false sugars have been in existence means that there is little data available to determine how safe they are for use both now, and in the long term. What is clear however is that there seems to be a connection between stomach gas and discomfort and the makeshift sugar products, and it is possible that fake sugars may be one of the most overlooked common bloating causes. Persons experiencing gastrointestinal ails that are common consumers of counterfeit sugar may want to consider whether the detriment to their derriere is a result of a low calorie knock off.