Choosing sugar-free candy should be rewarded with applause. But sometimes, when you think you've made a brilliant low-sugar selection in the candy department, you might be met with an upset stomach that leaves you uncomfortable for hours. It's an unfortunate result for someone who just wanted to responsibly indulge in candy.
If you're wondering how and why sugar-free candy can cause these side effects, consider your search done. We're going to dig deeper into why your digestion might be sensitive to sugar-free substances and how you can make sure your candy treats you well.
Why Can Sugar-Free Candies Cause Stomach Issues?
Getting an upset stomach after eating sugar-free candy sort of feels like getting a speeding ticket as a designated driver. Missing out on the fun and getting penalized afterward? It’s not exactly living the dream.
If you've encountered this phenomenon before, you probably wonder how something so seemingly harmless could have adverse effects. The answer lies in what replaces the sugar in sugar-free candies.
Artificial Sweeteners and Your Digestion
Have you ever pondered how sugar-free candy is so sweet? The sweetness in sugar-free sweets is due to artificial sweeteners that mimic the taste of sugar.
A few synthetic sugar alternatives are:
- Acesulfame potassium
Some of these synthetic sugar substitutes come from nature, and most of them taste sweeter than traditional sugar.
Although it's not a scientific fact, many people report experiencing an upset stomach after ingesting artificial sweeteners in zero sugar products. These artificial sweeteners may be one culprit contributing to stomach issues after eating sugar-free candy.
Types of Sugar Alcohols
In addition to artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols are another substance used to make sugar-free candy taste sweet. If you've ever seen words like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, isomalt, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, or malitol on the back of a label, you've spotted a sugar alcohol. Many of these sugar alcohols are known for causing digestive issues like diarrhea.
The reason your stomach can't digest many sugar alcohols well is that they can't cross the cell walls. This incomplete absorption causes your intestines to extract fluid from your colon, which can lead to diarrhea. Womp womp.
However, there is a way around this problem. At MiiRO, we use fermented erythritol, the healthiest sugar alcohol out there, to offset any potential issues like cramping or diarrhea. While typical sugar alcohols may cause these problems, you’re much less likely to have issues with sweets made with fermented erythritol.
How Much Sugar Alcohol Causes Diarrhea?
So, will you get sick after eating any piece of sugar-free candy or snack with sugar alcohol in it? Probably not. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests staying under 50 grams of sorbitol and 20 grams of mannitol to stay safe. Some sources also recommend limiting your intake of erythritol to under 50 grams to avoid an upset stomach.
Can Sugar-Free Candy Cause Gas?
If you've chosen sugar-free candy or chocolate for your sweet daily snack, you'll want to be careful about the ingredients inside. Sugar-free sweets containing sugar alcohol can cause gas and bloating in addition to diarrhea.
Other Common Symptoms
So far, we've learned how sugar alcohol can cause diarrhea and gas with incomplete absorption. If you consume too many sugar-free sweets, you could also experience headaches and nausea. Finding a stomach-safe sugar alternative is the best choice for avoiding these nasty side effects.
How Long Will Stomach Issues Last After Sugar Alcohol?
Suppose you accidentally consume too much of a food containing a sugar alcohol. One gastrointestinal study suggests you'll likely only experience diarrhea until the sugar alcohol exits your system. If you want to feel better quickly, try eliminating xylitol and unfermented erythritol from your diet for a few days.
What Else Contains Sugar Alcohol?
You might think you're in the clear once you find a sugar-free candy made with stomach-safe ingredients. The sad reality is that many other products contain sugar alcohol, even when you might not expect it.
Here's a list of popular products that contain sugar alcohol:
- Frozen Desserts
- Low-Calorie Foods
Consuming these may not hurt you as long as the sugar alcohol content isn't too high. Still, it's good to keep this list in mind to know which products to consume in moderation.
Are Any Sugar-Free Options Safe?
If you typically try to limit your sugar intake, it can be a bummer to discover that some sugar-free foods can harm you. Can you ever enjoy candy and chocolate again without worry?
Fortunately, there's a sort of scientific loophole that can allow you to enjoy some candies made with sugar alcohol. Although traditional erythritol can cause an upset stomach for some people, there's a way to reduce its diarrhetic effects.
At MiiRO, our low-sugar chocolates contain fermented erythritol. The fermentation in this sugar alternative can significantly minimize the adverse effects that usually accompany sugar alcohol. No more cramping, gas, or tummy troubles. Phew!
How To Reduce Bloating After Sugar Alcohol Consumption
It’s probably no surprise to you that our bodies each contain unique characteristics that impact our lives. You can see this idea demonstrated in the fact that not all bodies react the same way to sugar alcohol. Though some people can stomach high amounts of this ingredient, others can hardly bear small amounts.
If you notice that you respond unfavorably to most sugar-free and low-calorie sweets, here are a few steps you can try for bloating and gas relief:
- Find the right amount for your stomach. Resist the urge start with a full candy bar; try half a serving instead at first. If that doesn’t cause any issues, adjust to a full serving, and so on.
- Sip peppermint tea. If you're feeling bloated or nauseous, sipping peppermint tea can help alleviate your symptoms. The relief comes from compound essential oils in peppermint leaves such as menthol, menthone, and limonene.
- Stay hydrated. If you experience diarrhea, one of the kindest things you can do for yourself is stay hydrated with lots of water. As we mentioned, sugar alcohol can pull moisture from your colon to create a watery stool. Replenishing that water can prevent dehydration and help you recover more quickly.
Tasty Low-Sugar Candy Options
You don't have to kiss low-sugar treats goodbye. Our low-sugar treats are so sweet and delicious that you’d imagine them having over 50g of sugar — but in reality, there’s less than a teaspoon. For real.
Did we mention that they're vegan and keto-friendly, too? You can enjoy delicious chocolate even if you opt for a keto or vegan menu.
MiiRO's White Chocolate Bar With Crispy Almond Pieces
What's better than creamy white chocolate sprinkled with almond pieces throughout? You can enjoy our tasty White Chocolate Bar With Crispy Almond Pieces without worrying about sugar.
This white chocolate snack contains only 4 grams of sugar for the entire bar, and you'd never be able to tell. We wouldn’t be surprised if you wanted to keep this dessert around all day, every day.
MiiRO's Peanut Butter Cups
Peanut butter cups are one of life's simple pleasures. When you want a peanut butter chocolate option that isn't loaded with sugar, our bag of Vegan Peanut Butter Cups is the solution!
You might not believe that the whole bag contains less than 3 grams of sugar, but it's a fact. Plus, the cups are made with fermented erythritol to make them perfect for more sensitive stomachs.
Go ahead and enjoy the full bag while watching your favorite TV re-runs if you'd like. That’s what we’ll be doing.
MiiRO's Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar
Have you ever dreamed of diving head-first into a creamy pool of chocolate and peanut butter? After tasting our peanut butter chocolate bar, you'll feel like you did.
Our plant-based Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar is a treat worth snacking on again and again. The entire bar of velvety-smooth chocolate contains less than 4 grams of sugar. It's a sweet snack you'll want to keep stocked!
MiiRO Baking Sampler
Some occasions call for homemade sweets baked with love. Usually, baking ingredients are super sugary — but they don’t have to be.
With our Baking Collection, you can try out delicious Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Baking Chips and No Added Sugar Maple Flavored Syrup in whatever recipes your heart desires. Go for no-bake matcha chocolate chip cookies, or explore the taste of a pancake latte with no added sugar maple syrup flavoring. The sky’s the limit!
The Big Idea
Sugar-free candies are often regarded as being the choice that's better for you. Still, the quality of your sustenance is only as good as the sugar replacement listed in the ingredients. Traditional sugar alcohol can end up being more trouble than it’s worth.
When you want to enjoy every bite of your treats without tummy troubles, choosing MiiRO sweets is the way to go. Your tummy and your taste buds will thank you.
Gastrointestinal Disturbances Associated with the Consumption of Sugar Alcohols with Special Consideration of Xylitol: Scientific Review and Instructions for Dentists and Other Health-Care Professionals | National Library of Medicine