Erythritol Benefits and Drawbacks
Erythritol is a common food additive used to sweeten foods. The good news is that erythritol is well tolerated in humans. In large doses, though, it can cause digestive side effects. Humans do not have the enzymes necessary to break down erythritol. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of erythritol.
The use of erythritol in food ingredients is legal under the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) labeling system. It is commonly used to sweeten food and drinks. It is often found in sports drinks, diet soft drinks, and even smoothies. It has been a common ingredient in flavored water for years and is now included in a number of food ingredients. The FDA says it is a GRAS ingredient and is not a potential health hazard.
Unlike sucrose, erythritol is a natural sugar alcohol. It is a noncaloric sweetener, making it a popular low-calorie alternative. It is also safe for diabetics, as it has no impact on blood glucose levels after oral intake. Unlike other sugar alcohols, polyols do not ferment in the human body, so they do not contribute to acid production in the body. Erythritol is excreted almost exclusively in urine, and therefore does not cause a laxative effect like sugar.
Both erythritol and sucralose are natural sweeteners with a similar sweet taste to sugar. However, unlike sugar, these ingredients do not raise blood sugar levels. This makes them less harmful than natural sweeteners, such as stevia and monk fruit. Additionally, erythritol and sucralose do not contribute to the browning or dryness of baked goods. As a result, they are grouped into the caution category.
Sugar, or sucrose, comes from plants such as sugar cane and sugar beets. It is a carbohydrate that contributes flavor and caramelization to foods. Sugar is a natural substance that our bodies can use for energy. However, too much of any substance can be harmful. As a result, sugar has to be substituted with another sweetener to avoid adverse effects.
A sugar alcohol, erythritol was discovered in 1848 by Scottish chemist John Stenhouse. Its widespread use in Japan began in the early 1990s and it is now found in beverages, jams, and candies. More recently, however, erythritol has gained attention in the United States. This sugar alcohol is rapidly absorbed in the small intestine and undergoes little to no metabolization.
While it does not taste as sweet as sugar on its own, it is often combined with other questionable sweeteners. Sugar alcohols are not fully absorbed by the body and cause unpleasant side effects, including bloating, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Because they are not completely digested by the body, erythritol is not as likely to cause these side effects. However, small amounts of erythritol can cause digestive side effects, especially in young children.
Another benefit of erythritol is that it does not cause an insulin spike, unlike other sugar alcohols that do. This is one reason it is often recommended for people with diabetes. Because it has a noncaloric effect, erythritol does not raise your blood sugar levels. However, it is poorly metabolized, which makes it unlikely to provide the same health benefits as other natural sweeteners.
Taking supplements containing D ribose can help improve cellular function. This nutrient aids the production of ATP, the energy molecule that powers all biological processes. D ribose can help keep the levels of ATP high, thereby prolonging the life of cells. Supplementation with D ribose may help improve mood and energy levels in people suffering from fibromyalgia.
The d ribose in erythric acid is water soluble, so the best way to get the most from it is to take it on an empty stomach. A powder or liquid containing the substance can be stirred into a glass of water to provide optimal absorption. Typical dosages for d ribose are five to ten capsules. The powder is preferred, as its absorption is greater when mixed with water or added to a drink.
Among the most important applications of D ribose are in the treatment of heart failure. It increases the amount of ATP available to cardiac cells. Researchers at the Ohio State University gave a group of congestive heart failure patients five grams of D ribose daily for six weeks. The subjects improved significantly on the test, and their improvements remained after discontinuation of supplementation.