Choosing a sorbitol sugar substitute with coffee, tea, and other desserts to avoid calories from sugar might be a good idea. However, if your body displays allergic reactions to this substitute, you may be intolerant to sorbitol. This HealthHearty article talks about the various causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this condition.
Sorbitol being a laxative is known to cure constipation. However, make sure it is never shared with someone who has a history of eating disorder, as it could lead to rapid weight loss.
Sorbitol is a commonly used sugar substitute in the food manufacturing industry. Also known as glucitol, this is a sugar alcohol that the human body metabolizes by the reduction of glucose. It is commonly listed under the inactive ingredients for a number of artificial food products. It is referred to as a nutritive sweetener because it provides dietary energy: 2.6 kilocals/gm vs. the average 4 kilocals for carbohydrates.
Sorbitol is also found naturally in a number of berries and stone fruits from trees, which belong to the genus Sorbus. Hence, there are many chances where you can suffer from sorbitol intolerance due to excess consumption of such fruits or the effect of allergies.
Research shows that sorbitol is absorbed by the digestive system very slowly, which is why a lower number of calories are obtained from this compound. However, this property has a negative effect on the body as well. Any sorbitol that is not digested gets collected in the large intestine or colon and slowly starts fermenting, disturbing the fluid levels in the digestive system. This causes various disorders, which manifest themselves as symptoms of sorbitol intolerance.
It is reckoned that more than half of the adults undergo severe side effects following the consumption of more than 10 grams of sorbitol. Many of the symptoms mentioned here occur in other disorders as well, and hence, may cause some confusion. Thus, if you notice any of the following signs, get a medical evaluation done as soon as possible.
- The most common symptoms include gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, nausea, and increased intestinal sounds and gas production.
- Sudden and severe weight loss is seen in those people who have used this sugar substitute for a long period of time.
- Many patients with irritable bowel syndrome could be sorbitol-intolerant.
- In case of diabetics, a fairly high concentration of sorbitol can cause nerve and eye damage.
- Black-colored, tar-like stools is a symptom that is seen in severe cases.
- Sorbitol intolerance may also cause a person to constantly vomit, or it may cause rectal bleeding.
This ailment can be diagnosed through a very simple test called the hydrogen breath test. In this procedure, you are administered a small amount of sorbitol, and after two to three hours, your breath is analyzed. If the amount of hydrogen in your breath is found to be higher than normal, it means that the undigested sorbitol in your digestive system is fermenting, and this will indicate the presence of sorbitol intolerance.
The best way to treat this condition is to change your diet, and be careful of any ingredients in the food that may aggravate the ailment.
- Sorbitol is used in many diet foods as an artificial sweetener. Other foods like ice cream, candy, and processed foods are also very rich in this ingredient. Hence, avoiding these food items will show immediate relief from the symptoms, and is the best way to get rid of this condition.
- Also, try to eliminate products which have ingredients that list fructose, honey, crystalline fructose (not HFCS), and sorbitol on the label.
- Dried fruits and fruits that have stones in them such as prunes, pears, cherries, peaches, apples, plums, grapes, and dates also should be avoided due to their fructose and sorbitol content.
- It is also proven that fresh or fresh frozen fruits are always better tolerated than canned fruit because of their lack of preservatives.
- Some medicines such as cough syrups and mouthwashes may have sweeteners such as isomalt and lycasin, which contain sorbitol.
- There are a few intestine-friendly foods which can be eaten, but in moderation. These are pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lemons, limes, avocado, bananas, and oranges.
In some cases, where the diet treatment does not work, immunotherapy sessions may be prescribed with a combination of various foods and substances to create a proper health plan. Hence, it is always better to get prompt medical attention when the symptoms start to show up.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.