What Is Erythritol? Why You Should Or Shouldn't Have It?
Natural erythritol can be considered safe for consumption but not the GMO version of it.
Erythritol is a common ingredient in sports and energy drinks
- Erythritol can occur naturally in some foods and fruits
- Erythritol has zero calories
- It can cause gastrointestinal problems
Erythritol is known as a popular natural zero calorie sweetener. It is known to bring a significant drop in the amount of sugar and calories that you consume. It is a common ingredient in foods that are labelled as low-sugar or sugar-free. The reason why erythritol consumption does not spike our calorie consumption is because the body can break it down quite easily. However, some side effects of erythritol make its consumption debatable. It is said that consuming even small amounts or erythritol can cause headache, stomach aches and diarrhoea.
Erithritol is a sweetener which is common in energy and sports drinks, packaged foods and chocolates. It also occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. But the one added in beverages is made from genetically modified food which results in a food item that is ultra-processed. Experts say that erythritol might provide the body with essential antioxidants which help the body fight from the damage caused by free radicals.
Also read: Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Crohn's Disease? Here's All You Need To Know About Artificial Sweeteners
Barring its benefits of adding lesser calories to food, here are the reasons to not consume erythritol
1. Genetic modification (GMO)
GMO foods are foods that are derived from organisms whose DNA has been modified through the introduction of gene from a different organism. Most erythritol in beverages and energy drink is derived from GMO corn starch. Studies say that consumption of GMO products can cause problems of immunity, disturb regulation of insulin and cause changes in gastrointestinal system of the body.
2. It can make you overeat
A common tendency after eating zero calorie sweeteners is to overeat. Sweeteners like erythritol do not work in the same way as regular sugar does. When you regular sugar, your body knows how to metabolise it. Consuming regular sugar releases hormones that decrease your appetite.
Since erythritol does not get metabolised in the body, it makes you feel unfilled, wanting to eat and drink more. This ultimately leads to overeating and gain in weight.
3. It is a good insecticide
Researchers feel that erythritol can be toxic to flies and hence it is used as a good insecticide.
4. It is usually combined with artificial sweeteners
Since erythritol is not as sweet on its own, it is often combined with other artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Aspartame causes side effects such as anxiety, depression, weight gain, fatigue and short-term memory loss to name a few.
People suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or those who have small intestinal bacterial growth should avoid consumption of erythritol. This is because they can further cause irritation and problems in the digestive tract.
6. Causes gastrointestinal problems and headache
Gastrointestinal problems are a common side effect of sugar alcohols like erythritol. It can cause diarrhoea, the incidence of which is more common among children. Consuming even normal amounts of erythritol can cause an upset stomach including conditions such as bloating, gas, rumbling and nausea. Headaches too are a common side effect of erythritol consumption.
7. Allergic reactions
Many people respond to erythritol with an allergic skin reaction. It can cause hives and itching on the skin.
Also read: 8 Foods That Contain Alarming Amounts Of Sugar
Why you should have erythritol
You can have erythritol that is organic or non-GMO. You can check for these details at the back of the product. People on weight loss regime can switch to erythritol since it has no calories. But you should keep in mind that zero calorie products can be confusing for our bodies and brains.
Diabetics choose to switch to erythritol since prevents any rise in blood sugar levels. Erythritol is also known to decrease plaque and prevent tooth decay.
Erythritol is absorbed in the small intestines once it is consumed. Only 10% of it enters the colon and the rest of it is excreted in urine. Natural erythritol can be considered safe for consumption but not the GMO version of it.
Moreover, even natural sources of erythritol can increase your appetite and lead to overeating. The better option is to probably switch to natural sweeteners such as raw honey.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.