Erythritol – Like Sugar Without The Calories. Too Good to be True?

Young Girl Looking at DoughnutThe low-calorie sweetener Erythritol may seem too good to be true.

It’s natural, doesn’t cause side effects and tastes almost exactly like sugar without the calories.

Basically, all the good stuff in regular sugar, with none of the bad stuff.

Since I’ve gotten several e-mails asking me about this trendy sweetener, I decided to do some research on it.

What is Erythritol?

Erythritol belongs to a class of compounds called sugar alcohols.

These molecules are like hybrids of a carbohydrate and an alcohol (it doesn’t contain any ethanol though… the stuff that gets you drunk).

There are many different sugar alcohols. They can be found in natural foods like fruits, but they’re also added to “sugar-free” products of all sorts.

The way these molecules are structured gives them the ability to stimulate the sweet taste receptors on our tongues.

Common sugar alcohols include xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, to name a few. But erythritol appears to be quite a bit different than the others.

To begin with, it contains much fewer calories:

  • Table sugar: 4 calories per gram.
  • Xylitol: 2.4 calories per gram.
  • Erythritol: 0.24 calories per gram.

With only 6% of the calories of sugar, it still has 70% of the sweetness.

Due to its unique chemical structure, our bodies don’t break it down.

It goes pretty much unchanged through our system, without causing any of the harmful metabolic effects of excess sugar… or the digestive issues associated with other sugar alcohols.

In large scale production, erythritol is created when a type of yeast ferments glucose. The final product looks something like this (photo source):

Erythritol in a Bowl

Erythritol Does Not Spike Blood Sugar or Insulin

Humans don’t have the enzymes to break down erythritol.

It gets absorbed into the bloodstream and is then excreted unchanged in the urine.

When healthy people are given erythritol, there is no change in blood sugar or insulin levels. There is also no effect on cholesterol, triglycerides or other biomarkers (1, 2).

For people who are overweight, with diabetes or other issues related to the metabolic syndrome, erythritol appears to be an excellent alternative to sugar.

Erythritol Does Not Feed Bacteria in The Mouth

Young Woman Smiling

One widely accepted side effect of sugar consumption is poor dental health… cavities and tooth decay.

The harmful bacteria in the mouth can use sugar for energy.

When these bacteria have plenty of energy, they grow, multiply and secrete acids that erode the enamel of the teeth.

Other sugar alcohols like Xylitol have found their way into “tooth-friendly” products, because bacteria can not digest them and use them for energy.

Multiple studies have examined the effects erythritol has on dental caries and the results are mixed. Some studies show a reduction in plaque and the harmful bacteria, while another study shows no actual reduction in caries (3, 4, 5).

I’m not totally convinced that erythritol is good for the teeth, it appears to be mostly benign. However, even though erythritol isn’t protective per se, replacing sugar (very bad) with Erythritol (benign) is likely to improve dental health.

What Happens to Erythritol in The Body?

Man With Sports Drink

There is one major caveat to most sugar alcohols… they can cause digestive issues.

Because the body can’t metabolize all of them, some travel to the intestine where they get fed to the bacteria.

But… again, erythritol is different.

Most of it gets absorbed into the body way before it gets to the colon, where most of the bacteria reside.

From the small intestine, it travels into the bloodstream.

There it circulates for a while, until it is eventually excreted unchanged in the urine. About 90% of erythritol gets excreted this way (6).

If you like to drink your own piss, then you are going to love erythritol as it should give your urine a sweet flavor. I haven’t tried it myself, but if you do then make sure to leave a comment below and share your experience.

Erythritol And The Digestive System

Doctor Pointing His Finger

Even though some amount of erythritol were to reach the intestinal bacteria, they can not digest it (7).

Feeding studies with up to 1 gram per kg (0,45 g per lb) of body weight show that it is very well tolerated (8, 9).

However, one study showed that 50 grams of erythritol in a single dose did increase nausea and stomach rumbling (10).

Unless you’re eating massive amounts of it at a time, then it’s unlikely to make you sick or have to run to the toilet.

Take this with a grain of salt however, as this can vary between people.

Overall, erythritol appears to be very safe. Multiple studies on metabolism and toxicity have been performed in test animals. Despite long-term feeding of high amounts of erythritol, no negative effects have been discovered (11, 12).

My Concerns About Low-Calorie Sweeteners in General

Vegetable Oils

I did not manage to find anything negative about erythritol in any of the studies I looked at.

But I am still not convinced that low-calorie sweeteners in general are totally harmless.

Even though these sweeteners don’t contain calories, they are still associated with obesity and diabetes in the long-term. This is well documented (13, 14, 15, 16).

This may be because the sweeteners increase the “reward value” of our foods, which can impact our brains and make us eat more subconsciously (17).

Some obesity researchers even believe the amount of processed super-rewarding foods in the food supply to be the true cause of the obesity epidemic.

Whether all of this applies to erythritol and not just artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, I do not know. Time will tell.

The Bottom Line

Overall, erythritol appears to be an excellent sweetener.

  • It contains almost no calories.
  • It has 70% of the sweetness of sugar.
  • It doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels.
  • Human studies show very little side effects… mainly minor digestive issues in some people.
  • Studies where animals are fed massive amounts for long periods of time show no adverse effects.

I’ve often recommended that people who must have some sweetness in their lives replace it with Stevia or tiny amounts of honey.

However, honey is loaded with calories and fructose, while many people don’t appreciate the aftertaste of Stevia.

Erythritol appears to have the best of both worlds.

132 Comments

  1. I’ve seen this ingredient in some stevia’s and have wondered about its safetly. In researching this I found this on 100DaysOfRealFood.com – “erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar that is sometimes found in fruit, but food manufacturers don’t actually use the natural stuff. Instead they start with genetically engineered corn and then go through a complex fermentation process to come up with chemically pure erythritol.”

    It then goes on to diagram the manufacturing process. You can take a look at that here. I’d be interested in your opinion. I’m still undecided so will probably avoid this ingredient for now.

    http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/04/25/stevia-food-babe-investigates/

    • The manufacturing process may not seem very pleasant when it’s produced on an industrial scale, but it seems to be a safe product.

      If you choose organic erythritol then you won’t have to worry about GMOs.

      • Kris, I am sooo confused about these sweeteners! What form of the erythritol and stevia do you recommend, powder, granule, or liquid? What brand and where do you buy these products? And how do you use in baking and/or for adding sweetness to coffee or tea? I have been using Splenda, probably about 2-3 tsp a day.

        After reading articles here, I am wondering if the Splenda is causing my everyday headaches? I have noticed a lot of gas issues of consuming the sugar free chocolates with sugar alcohols and/or Atkins Bars? Please advise. Thank you so much for your articles! :)

  2. Oh Thank You, Jesus because I have been endeavoring to get off of splenda for almost two months!! I have definitely done better than I thought I would but not as good as I want to be. The problem has been that I HATE stevia.

    I keep trying to like it, I don’t mind it in my iced tea but in my coffee!! It has ruined my morning coffee for the entire month and a half I have been using it. And let me tell you that my morning coffee is a religious experience for me. So I will try this and hope I like it better!

    • You might also try the powder version of true Stevia, sold as “Sweet Leaf” in the individual packets. I bought mine at Whole Foods a year ago. I’ve had Erythritol in soda recently, and think it’s too sweet – I prefer the actual Stevia.

      I’m used to sugar, and never used alternatives, but on a diet find that just a quarter packet of the Sweet leaf in coffee tastes pretty similar to sugared coffee.

    • Definitely try Sweet Leaf. It has almost no after taste. I too tried a lot of different brands and they were terrible.

    • Try Central Market Stevia Extract from HEB, it will not not ruin your coffee’s “religious experience”. I had tried svetia, pure via, sweet leaf, truvia, super life(mexican brand), etc.

      Believe me, this one tastes good and its not as expensive as sweet leaf.

    • Monk fruit is also a great alternative. Whole foods sells monk fruit in the raw (not really raw but that’s the name) in little sachets which I like and it doesn’t have the same aftertaste as stevia. I first saw it on Dr. Oz and a friend also told me about it. I’ve tried it and liked it. It’s starting to appear more now as an ingredient in natural foods such as almond milk.

    • Karen Scheunemann says:

      It is really bad in coffee to me, also. Our family likes to use it in “fruit smoothies” made in the blender to bump up the sweetness. I find stevia only works when the food you start out with is slightly sweet. If you start with something bitter like coffee, it just ends up terrible.

  3. What’s the problem with Splenda, sucralose? I don’t touch anything sweet but my wife uses about 2 tsp a day of Splenda.

  4. But there is another issue, habit of sweet taste is kept alive to stimulate appetite. To lose weight, or even maintain, if you have weight issues, we would be better off to avoid all sweet things, and the sweet habit. But what do I know?

  5. This most definitely sounds like a safe sweetener but I’m with you. I’m not sure that these sweeteners are really good for us and I tend to stay away from them. My personal preference I guess.

  6. What are the brand names of products made of Erythritol and is it heat stable?

  7. Paul Lebo says:

    Do you know if the product is available commercially in the US in the form of powder or liquid?

    • Maryann says:

      Truvia. I have used this product for about four years. In my opinion it tastes better than sugar!

      • Charlotte says:

        Truvia is a mix of Erythritol and stevia though. I can not tolerate the taste of stevia, even in Truvia. So I had to go the Erythritol only route.

      • Swerve is the brand I have tried recently. I like it.

        • I recently tried Swerve, I found that it did not have any taste of any kind. No awful after taste, which is awesome.

          But, I found barely no flavor. Even straight out of the package, a barely noticeable flavor. Doesn’t anyone have a sugar substitute that is natural, with no after taste!

          I can’t stand the aftertaste of Stevia. And for GOD’s sake give my some flavor here!

    • Yes, you can buy erythritol powder in the U.S.

    • I purchase my Erythritol at the local health food store, and it comes in a 12 oz bag. It is called “zero” and is made by Wholesome Sweeteners INC. out of Texas. Not inexpensive, but for baking and those things that are better without the Stevia aftertaste, it is a great alternative.

      I keep hoping they will get it in the bulk foods section where they carry Xylitol, but the side effects of that for me make it a rare alternative.

      • If you are going to use a lot from the Erythritol “Sin Free Sugar” is relatively very expensive (about a $1 per Oz).

        I purchase from Amazon $37.99 and FREE Shipping for 5 Lbs, which is $0.47 per Oz. Do not need to worry for supply for at least month or two.

  8. Claudia says:

    Chris, I’m confused. Is erythritol the same as Stevia?

  9. Ditto on Claudia’s question. I was just going to ask the same thing.

    If it’s not then which product is better ?

    Ty

  10. Claudia says:

    Yeah, Chris, which is better: erythritol or Stevia? You used to tout the goodness of Stevia and it has a glycemic index of zero. Which do you think is better and why?

    • There are no studies that I’ve seen that directly compare Stevia and Erythritol. Both have a GI of zero, both appear to be without side effects. Some studies show that Stevia extract can lower elevated blood pressure and improve glycemic control in diabetics.

      I’d say they’re probably similar, so I guess it’s a matter of trying each one and see how well you tolerate them and how you like the taste.

      There are other characteristics though that can matter when baking and such. Erythritol is bulkier, you need quite a lot of it to sweeten something, while with Stevia you only need tiny amounts. Some people like to combine them, use Erythritol for the bulk and then add tiny amounts of Stevia to increase the sweetness even more.

      • Claudia says:

        Thanks! Very helpful response.

      • I have intolerance to MSG and Stevia gives me the same symptoms as MSG. I have heard this from others too. Do you know if there is some similarity with MSG and Stevia?

      • Hi, I just wanted to say great article, it was extremely informative and offered both sides up.
        In regards to the difference between stevia and erythritol, stevia is a highly concentrated product, in its natural form it is thousands times more sweeter than sugar (sucrose). Erythritol has the same bulk ratio for sugar and therefore a 1:1 exchange is used.

        The only issue with erythritol is that it is only 70% as sweet as sugar, which is where stevia comes into play.
        Stevia is added to erythritol which increases the sweetness….Truvia is the one that is most widely known, but personally I still think it has a nasty stevia aftertaste. I have found one called Smart Sweet, Sweet E by globalsweet that I absolutely love!! Hope that helps.

      • But apparently one can have an allergic reaction to either one. I am deathly allergic to stevia. Someone else in this comment section is allergic to erythritol which really surprises me.

        Anyway — a main difference is that erythritol acts like sugar in baking, something the less bulky sweeteners cannot do. Cakes will rise. Cookies get chewie. That sort of thing.

    • I like erythritol better because it is not bitter. I use both erythritol and stevia glycerite in my recipes to cut down on costs.

      • Billy Boylston says:

        Well said Alison! To me, Stevia has a bitterness during and after. Erythritol that I learned of from what I believe is a new beverage, is made from “coffee fruit” and the so called “70%” sweetness, with a bit of fruit juice is perfect, not like talcum powder bitter or a glucose bag like an over glazed Apple Fritter!

  11. Truvia is a combination or Erythritol and Stevia. Swerve is a nice brand of Erythritol http://www.swervesweetener.com/what-is-swerve/

    Either are better than sugar or fructose. Splenda can raise insulin. “Sugar down is good as long as insulin is not up”.. Dr. Ron Rosedale.

  12. A lot of products that I buy are sweetened with BOTH stevia and erythritol! BOOM :D

    • I’ve been looking for more products that contain both stevia and erythritol. GiGi, what products do you buy with those in them? Thanks!

      • You should try Natvia (best with coffee and is derived from the Stevia plant and contains erythritol), or Norbu (best with tea and is derived from Monk fruit). Both are 100% natural ingredients. check out their websites.

      • I have been drinking a vitamin water, Glaceau Vitamin Water, which I believe is a coca cola product. It is sweetened with Erythritol and Stevia extract. It’s a little on the sweet side but I don’t find the bitter stevia aftertaste. It’s a great pick me up with high levels of Vitamins C, B6 and B12.

  13. I agree totally with the conclusions in this post. Erythritol and stevia are probably the safest sweeteners but the sweetness in it self might pose a problem and lead to overeating. Sweet things should therefore not be a part in your everyday low carb life but a luxury reserved for special occasions.

    Another problem I see with eating sweets things often is that you will never get your tongue’s taste buds back to their default settings and get a higher sensitivity for sweetness. When eating out this higher sensitivity makes it easier to detect added sugar in foods.

    One the matter of Splenda/sucralose. It is not a natural product. It is a chlorinated organic compound and even if the very best scientist once upon a time guaranteed that other such chlorinated organic compounds such as DDT and PCB very perfectly safe, I am not that sure.

    Here in Sweden sucralose was really popular some years ago but has now almost disappeared from the market. It got very much bad will after studies showing it accumulating in lakes and rivers – giving the term sweet water reservoirs a new meaning ;-)

  14. Fabulous article! I found the same results however I still have a little issue with using artificial sweeteners…

    These artificial sweeteners trick our brains – evolution tells us that anything sweet tasting must be something super healthy and amazing like fruit, berries or sweet potato. Our mind thinks we’ve just stumbled on a gold mine and tells us to eat as much of this sugary goodness as quickly as possible before someone else finds our stash and steals it! Sounds a little silly though right?

    Actually, our body is pretty damn intelligent – It knows that if we eat too many calories we’ll get rather portly and be unable to hunt down and kill a gazelle or run away from a stampeding elephant so, although our brain wants us to have as much of the sugary amazingness as possible, it gets a signal from our intestines absorbing calories and tells us to chill out and stop eating so much.

    The issue with artificial sweeteners is; we’re getting the sweet sensation but we’re not getting the calories hence our body never knows when to stop! Thus, serious amounts of over eating occurs.

    Ever tried one of those ‘low salt’ diets? These normally results in everything you eat tasting like you’re just gnawing on the table for the first two weeks but then your taste buds adjust and you begin to taste the normal, natural, level of salt in healthy food.

    Something similar happens with sugar, when you continuously eat sugar you’ll find you need more and more to get the satisfying sugary taste you’re looking for. Before you know it, you’re adding 4 teaspoons of sugar to your tea instead of the 1/2 teaspoon you began with!

    If you’re having an artificial sweetener like erythritol when you’re at home you get used to a certain taste, when you go out, you attempt to match it with real sugar and find you’re consuming hundreds more calories than intended.

    If you’d like, I have the links to a bunch of articles that support what I’ve mentioned above on my website: http://www.invorahealth.com.au

    I’d love to chat with you about this and share ideas!

    All the best and keep doing what you’re doing, I love your work!

    Samantha

    • My own experience with using Truvia, stevia and erythritol has been different from what you are citing. I had a terrible sweet tooth before I went low carb. I used a variety of sweeteners to help wean myself off of the need for sweets but never needed more and more. As time went on I needed fewer sweets and liked them less and less sweet and eventually found that I didn’t crave them anymore. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have the blood sugar/insulin response as with sugar. That was about 4 years ago and I still find that sugar will trigger that craving and need for more and more sugar, but using Truvia, erythritol and stevia will not.

      • My experience has been very similar to yours, Jen. After switching to erythritol, I find I crave less and less sugar in my diet. I can no longer handle a full-strength coke – can only handle coke zero and if someone makes me a cup of tea, I only ask for one sugar – where I used to ask for two and then ask them to sneak in an extra one! The same goes with alcohol – I used to drink very sweet Moscato and now prefer drinks that are much drier.

        In Australia, I buy a product called Norbu sweetener, which is erythritol + the flavour of the Norbu fruit from Asia. The company also makes an erythritol + stevia product (which is more popular and easier to find) but after using it to bake some biscuits, I can no longer handle the stevia taste. The biscuits also made me very nauseous!

        Any other Australians looking to try erythritol, I would recommend Norbu.

        Thank you so much for this article. I have been very unsure about the risks associated with erythritol and the jury is still out on whether it’s ‘good’ for you – but I believe it to be better for my body than sugar!

  15. Thanks, Kris, for another great article! I’m a huge erythritol fan because it tastes so much like sugar and works very well for baking. As someone who’s maintained a 30-lb weight loss for almost 30 years (low carb for the last 2 for blood sugar issues) and consumed sugar substitutes pretty consistently throughout that period, they obviously don’t lead to overeating or weight gain in my own case; however, others may have a different experience. As a dietitian, I recommend erythritol and stevia to my patients and on my blog with a clear conscience.

    By the way, your website is a treasure. Keep up the fantastic work :)

    Franziska

  16. Charlotte says:

    Thanks for this post. I have tried sooo many sweeteners over the years, none of which I like. Erythritol is the closest I can get to sugar, but it has a faint after taste, so I’m not tempted to use a lot of it. But I do need some in my morning cup of tea. Glad to know it is relatively safe compared to what else is on the market. :)

  17. I had a hard time finding a sweetener I could use to bake with that didn’t have an after taste until I started blending Stevia and Xylitol together. Both products are available from NOW and I use them often.

  18. Claudia says:

    I recently read this about stevia extract, which is what you mostly find in all those clear liquid Stevias on the market. I will not be using Stevia like this anymore. What do you think? I am most considered about the imbalances to the glandular system as I seem to have become imbalanced. I’ve been using the clear sweet leaf Stevia for years.

    Stevia (Use extreme caution)—Stevia is a very sweet herb. You must be extremely careful with its use because it may have other medicinal properties besides its use as a sweetener. The only stevia that is safe to use is the minimally processed fresh herb. The fresh stevia is simply dried and powdered.

    A stevia concentrate which is a brownish color that simply contains the entire stevia herb in a more potent form should also be safe. There are many sweeteners made from extracting components of the stevia leaf and they are dangerous. Be very careful that you do not mistakenly buy a stevia extract or overly processed product. These extracts of stevia will likely cause significant imbalances to your glandular system. Likewise do not use stevia that is stored in glycerin.

    Read more: http://health.tipsdiscover.com/refined-sweeteners-can-damage-your-teeth/#ixzz2ag2iEkO7

  19. Thanks for this wonderful article! I am doing a low carb diet myself and wasn’t sure whether I needed to count these carbs but after reading this it seems that I don’t need to.

  20. Anybody know in what proportions to substitute erythritol for coconut sugar or xylitol? I’ve got a good recipe for kimchi that calls for either of those latter two sweeteners. Think erythritol would work?

  21. I really like erythritol and it’s my sweetener of choice. This article does a great job of explaining the pros and helping people to feel good about their choice.

    However, you discredit yourself a bit with the whole drinking your own urine thing. It sort of makes me want to not believe you’re serious about any of it. I’d rework it if I were you as that really churned my stomach.

    Or maybe I’m just a prude. I’m ok with that.

    • I, too, appreciated the candor… and also laughed out loud to the urine reference. The humorous example actually helped me pull together all preceding info, concluding with a clear, more concrete picture of the process explained :) Just my 2 cents.

    • Billy Boylston says:

      I also laughed at the “urine recycle” reference. Reminded me of the British Comedy “Red Dwarf” about a space craft lost, totally reliant on the process to regenerate H2O. So if any of us were lost in the desert… ?

  22. Thanks for the interesting and informative article; I laughed out loud at the urine part – it’s the weird but factual stuff like that that makes science so fascinating.

  23. Erythritol is the sweetener ingredient used in my favorite protein bar, Quest bar. I’m a type 1 diabetic so this ingredient is big. Quest bar only uses this as their sweetener and it’s by far the best tasting and nutritious protein bar I’ve ever had. Great article!!

  24. I can tolerate Stevia – but erythritol, especially erythritol, makes my intestines explode. I can’t believe that everyone can tolerate this. I also react to inositol and all of those sugar alcohols. I am so sick of getting sick, and then reading a label, to find one of these awful sweeteners. I hate Erythritol.

  25. Jacqueline says:

    I have found that erythritol, which I buy as Wholesome Zero in the U.S., has NO aftertaste and is great for hot things like tea and oatmeal, when I only need a bit of sweetness (usually have to use 2 packets though). However, it doesn’t dissolve well in iced-tea and actually can taste bitter.

    Have never used it in cooking or baking. I don’t use it often, just for tea mainly, and particularly if I happen to be counting calories/dieting etc. No GI side effects for me.

  26. I’ve had erythritol sweetened soda before. It was okay; honestly, it tasted kind of bland to me. Perhaps it was the product itself, but it just doesn’t taste nearly as good as regular ol’ sugar. I guess the 30% lacking sweetness made a difference. Perhaps that’s the biggest fault of the product; while it doesn’t have many negative side effects and it’s a healthier substitute, it just doesn’t taste as good.

  27. I am 42 years old and have learned just in the last 3 years that sucralose makes me very, very ill… it tears up my digestive system. After being on the Medifast diet for 7 months, I developed the same symptoms when I have fructose.

    I am constantly doing research for better health alternatives and losing weight.

    I have been using Stevia now for several months and so far, so good. No digestive issues and, though not as good as sugar or as sweet as artificial sweeteners, the benefits certainly outweigh anything it may be missing.

    I am stunned at people who can tolerate sucralose knowing what it does to me.

    I don’t think I’d be willing to try erythritol as an alternative to Stevia.

    • I can tolerate Stevia, but erythritol, sorbitol, inositol, sucralose, and similar substances make me ill. I’m with you on this. Maybe people like us are just intolerant and the rest of the world can tolerate these horrid artificial sweeteners.

  28. Question for anyone that may know the answer. Cancer feeds off sugar… can anyone tell me if cancer feeds off erythritol, stevia or any other artificial sweetener? Thanks.

    • Billy Boylston says:

      Here is research from NIH: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8933643

      Look at how Erythritol is different from other polyols.

      Good question, one of the first I wanted to find more about!

    • Cancer does not feed off of sugar any more than any other cell in your body. All human cells (with rare exception) raw food is glucose. Virtually everything we eat is eventually converted to glucose for human cell consumption, that includes alcohol, carbohydrates, fat and protein.

      The problem with aggressive cancers is that their metabolic rate (the food they consume) is about 200 times greater than normal cells. If cancer cells cannot get their dietary requirements from blood they have a happy knack of devouring surrounding healthy cells to obtain the energy they need.

      I’m sorry but cutting back sugar is not likely to help with cancer, a diet high in vegetable based antioxidants might help but I doubt it.

      I cannot find any evidence that any particular diet will cure cancer. The best is cancer prevention. Even the world health organization now states that a healthy lifestyle can prevent 80% of cancers.

      Eliminating sugar from the diet can help with cancer prevention, and after being diagnosed sugar elimination can help with you general health, which is a good thing whether diagnosed with cancer or not.

      Cheers.

      • This is not quite correct. Fats (as well as many amino acids) are turned into Acetyl-CoA, not glucose, before they’re used for energy.

        Cancer cells can metabolize glucose only due to changes in their metabolic function. Read up about the Warburg effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warburg_effect

        Cutting back on ALL carbs (including starches) may help with cancer treatment. This is currently being studied, there are a few promising small studies but not enough to base any recommendations on. See here: http://authoritynutrition.com/ketogenic-diets-and-cancer/

        • Sorry Kris was a bit loose with my language, try to make it simple for laypersons, a more correct statement would have been all cells (usually) derive energy from Acetyl-CoA, which is derived from glucose, and fatty acids on their metabolic pathway to ATP, the cells final energy substrate.

          I have studied diet and cancer for nearly 12 years now (since my wife was first diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer) and have come to the conclusions that cancer is;

          1. Incredibly complex and while cancers are broadly classified they are particularly individual.

          2. That there is no dietary adjustment that is known to cure cancer, and that the placebo effect of any diet is likely to be as significant as the diet itself.

          3. I am though firmly convinced that dietary changes can substantially reduce the risk of being diagnosed with cancer in the first place, or at least cause the diagnoses to occur at later ages.

          On this point I am also convinced that refined sugar, and HFCS, should be eliminated from the diet. Sugar by itself is bad enough, sugar combined with a high intake of polyunsaturated fats (margarines and vegetable oils) is of particular concern, fructose/polyunsaturated fat combination will produce many more dangerous advanced glycation end products, than a glucose/saturated fat combination, and the fructose/polyunsaturated fat combination will also contribute to overeating, which in itself “ages” cells, and cancer is age related.

          Angiogenesis does not seem to occur until tumours reach 2 to 3 millimeters in diameter. Which means up until this point there is no direct blood supply (be it glucose or fatty acids) and recent research is suggesting that the reverse warburg effect is being utilized by the the cancer cells. That is cancer cells metabolic rate is 200 times normal, the ROS waste products are therefore much more abundant and the cancer cell has its own defenses against them whereas surrounding healthy cells do not, causing damage and death of the surrounding cells, the remnants of which are used as energy supply for the tumour cells, it’s all very complicated.

          Finally, the real issue is that most people only pay attention to, and start learning about food after they are sick, instead of when they are healthy to help avoid sickness in the first place.

          Thanks Kris, keep up the good work.

      • Lori Bryant says:

        Sorry Glenn, but you are WRONG! Sugar does feed cancer. All cancer!

        The mitochondria that surrounds the cancer cells have 15 times the sugar receptors as all other cells. Cancer thrives on it. There are cancer treatments now that are called insulin potentiated therapy that lowers your blood sugar to a certain point. The cancer cells think they are starving.

        Then the doctor has you eat something to slowly bring your sugar back up at the same time giving you IV chemo (pick from your own chemosensitivity test). The cancer cells gobble up the sugar while also getting a huge dose of chemo. That way it is targeted to the cancer cells and does not cause the horrible side effects of full dose chemo you get with the standard of care at most cancer clinics.

        I know this because my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and is using this treatment with amazing results. What used to be a 2% out of 100 chance of survival is now 80% success rate 13 years and beyond. Amazing for metastatic prostate cancer. So PLEASE, if you have been diagnosed with cancer don’t just back away from sugar, RUN! It is deadly!

        • Lori Bryant says:

          I should add, this does not include stevia. Any sugar such as potatoes, corn, beets, certain fruits or any processed sugar. The ketogenic diet is best with some brown rice and whole grains.

  29. Pam,
    great question.

    A couple of considerations strike me:

    The insulin we secrete in response to simple and complex sugars seems to drive cancer. So question one: Is there an insulin response to these artificial sweeteners?

    No 2: Burning glucose creates oxidants, which can damage DNA. Does the same thing happen when we burn these artificial sugars?

    I will ask the experts I deal with and post a response soon on my website, http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com. Perhaps others here want to chime in.

    • Billy Boylston says:

      We do not absorb or digest this sweetener. It passes through essentially unchanged. Lacking the bacteria to break it down, would at least make it less likely to make changes within. I am going to ask at Joslin Center here in Boston for more research though.

  30. I replace my sugar intake with Erythritol (put sweet to my coffee, tea, baking and desserts that call for sugar) I don’t abuse on it and I have NO problems like your post clearly described.. I did the same ‘experiment’ before with Xylitol and I had stomach problems most of the time (going to the bathroom too often).. I would say that it’s a great replacement for sugar nowadays, even better than raw organic honey which as you explained, has a lot of other things we don’t want into our body. (And I wouldn’t like to eat bees vomit anyways).

    The sweeteners that you refer to be linked with obesity are aspartame and probably others similar to it.. I don’t think sugar alcohols has anything to do with it… however if you put erythritol in a processed food full of processed carbs, white flour, preservatives, GMOs, High fructose glucose, milk, eggs, etc… OF COURSE you will get fat.. but not because of the sugar alcohol replacement.

    #GoVegan #NoGMO #StopMonsanto #EatOrganic #StopAnimalAbuse

  31. I really wonder about anyone who simplistically points to overweight people drinking diet sodas as ‘evidence’ that they ‘make you fat.’ Zero calories CAN’T make you fat!! It’s all that other stuff with the ‘real’ sugar in it they’re eating in large amounts that make them fat! This should be so self evident.

    Whether diet sodas ‘trigger’ people to eat more sweet foods is irrelevant. They’ll be just as triggered if they drink a sugar or corn syrup soda, plus they’ll have consumed even more calories and be even fatter. And simple sugars go straight to the waistline, which is exactly the worst thing for one’s health.

    I drink Diet Mountain Dew and I don’t crave sugar any more than I ever did and I’m not overweight. I’m also, knock on wood, very healthy. I think a lot of the junk science that captures people imaginations is causing ill health. People take handfuls of ‘vitamins’ when it’s been shown that vitamin eaters die sooner and have more mental deficits in later life.

    Additionally, blithely advising people to avoid all sugar is dangerous. Our brains run off of glucose, ie carbs. People really need to balance their media-induced food-fear with some sound logic and study. Running naively after every new food fad is gonna mess up your body!

    • Billy Boylston says:

      If you have ANY kind of arthritis, well I will just say after 3 months of not drinking anything with Aspartame, I have had a lot of pain dissipate. If you are (pre)diabetic, listen to your doctor and nutritionist. What you put in, you pay for one way or the other. Please do what your physician says and NEVER skimp on your meds (oral or IM) because of money or any reason.

      The foods we eat have loads of sugar either natural or processed. You need to test, test, med, med and follow what professionals in your health care tell you. In many cases this will mean avoiding (especially) processed sugars or even natural ones like honey (as this article author noted and I thank him for that!) Have YOU had your blood glucose tested lately?

      • Kj,

        I’m sure we can all agree that each of us have different bodies. We all know someone that can eat whatever they want and it doesn’t affect them, maybe that’s you. Many have a slower metabolism and are prone to weight problems. As a society we love to eat. You can find excess of food anywhere and everywhere. Street vendors, convenience stores, snack bars, ball parks, you name it, there is a way to get food, and enjoy it. Food satisfies us on so many levels. Drinking diet sodas as suggested in the article is just our way of convincing ourselves that we are making a healthier choice, when as stated, the real sugar isn’t there to tell our body we have had enough, and in turn more food is consumed.

        So yes, the “other food” is the reason, but we live amongst a largely under educated society about how our bodies work. Most understand the simple truth we need to consume the same amount of calories as we use each day or we will gain weight. But beyond that… Ignorance, or indifference, and they are rolling around (almost literally) with diet drinks in their hands, consuming meal after meal.

        I appreciate articles like this that can help me make and informed and educated decision about my health. Bashing them for stating a bitter truth, whether you agree or not to justify your own choice, isn’t helping educate our undereducated society. The truth is we should all put down our processed drinks full of sugar, or artificial sweeteners and drink good old from the earth water. To my knowledge there isn’t a study out there that says too much water is harmful.

    • Zandy Campbell says:

      BE CAREFUL. I have been a daily drinker of diets drinks sweetened with Aspartame and Splenda for years. I admit I drink 5-6 per day, and that level of consumption is extreme. However, other people have noticed headaches, vertigo, hair loss, memory loss, and other worrisome factors.

      Could this all be coincidence? Maybe. But, I wouldn’t want to bet on our government who is often in bed with the guy who has the most poker chips.

    • All human cells run off glucose, the brain can also run off ketone bodies (starvation mode). It is wrong to assume carbs equal glucose, fat is also metabolized by the cells to glucose to make it available for consumption. And some carbs like alcohol and fructose are metabolised into fat (VLDL bad fat).

      Human metabolism is complex and evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to digest a wide variety of natural foods.

      Low carb, high carb, low fat, high fat, and high protein diets all work if one is eating whole foods.

      Refined sugar is a food additive, not a food in itself. Humans have not evolved to deal with it added to everything. Refined sugar is simply best not eaten at all, zero, zilch, none.

      If your want to get an understanding of sugar biochemistry and metabolism watch this video:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

  32. Billy Boylston says:

    In looking for an alternative to bottled water today at a 7-11, I was dismayed to see “Vitamin Water” far from what that moniker would make many think it is, of course the usual diet drinks with Aspartame and then those with sucralose (Splenda) and sucrose/high fructose corn syrup. I was about to leave when I saw a small paper star sign with “NEW” on it.

    A beverage called “Bai” and many flavors of it with Erythritol made from coffee fruit. I bought the Panama Peach, researched the product site to learn what the sweetener was made from and all I can say is WOW am I happy to have a choice between waters with what certainly seems to be “100% Natural Sweetener”.

    The site is DrinkBai and you can figure out the rest as I am not paid to do this, just sharing to help others, especially diabetics with serious glycemic issues and those who have arthritic conditions that in my own case have had some significant relief since not drinking diet soda. Good Bai :D

  33. Billy Boylston,

    You seem to know what you are talking about. After a recent ordeal with cancer, and finding out cancer feeds off sugar I’ve pretty much gave up all sugar. Right now I only drink water. As for my food I try to stay under 20 grams of sugar a day with 30 being the total daily allowance and it still worries me.

    My doctor told me artificial sweeteners were dangerous and if I choose to use sweeteners to use stevia or truvia. But after coming home from my visit I started wondering if these sweeteners do the same thing as regular sugar as far as cancer is concerned. You mentioned the vitamin water and I’ve purchased a few of them with stevia and they aren’t bad but they do have other ingredients I’m not familiar with.

    I will check out the Bai site and if you find or get any more info on the artificial sweetener including stevia and if cancer feeds off it, please post it for me.

    Thanks.

  34. I agree with fredt, if you’re hooked on sugar, your body increases your appetite making you crave more sugar nonstop and you want to eat all day.

    I finally forced myself to stop eating desserts (it was a total crutch for me, I could easily consume 150 grams of sugar a day). It’s been 2 and a half weeks and I no longer want to eat! I feel like a French woman eating bits of fruit and a piece of bread for dinner! Kick the sugar habit and your new sleek body will thank you.

    I do indulge in a mocha as a mid afternoon snack but its small w very little chocolate. I figure if I’m not eating pastries and donuts I’m allowed to have a little mocha.

  35. This is a great article and comments afterward. Has anyone tried the newer sweetener with Monk Fruit and Erythritol? I have issues with artificial sweeteners being a trigger for migraines so I stay away from them completely. My husband does drink diet stuff and uses artificial sweeteners in his coffee. I’ve been trying to find a more natural alternative for him and he’s not fond of the bitter taste from stevia based sweeteners.

    • I have been using the monk fruit and erythritol sweetener for about three months now. It is marketed by the makers of Splenda under the name Nectresse. I use it in coffee and oatmeal. As others here have stated, Stevia is okay in cold drinks like iced tea but not in hot coffee. This Nectresse still has an after taste, but it is not that bad.

      I was pre diabetic in a family of type 2 diabetics. I had weight loss surgery in April 2012 and have lost almost 100 pounds. I find that having a “natural” sweetener once a day helps me maintain my weight loss. I get migraines and have a bladder condition called interstitial cystitis. I’ve known to stay away from Nutrasweet and Splenda for years. They are the main reason I started reading the labels on all the foods I eat.

  36. I encountered Erythritol yesterday at a sustainable living fair in a carbonated drink. My husband (a diabetic) had heard of it before and told me he thought it was fine. I am trying to stay away from any sweetener other than cane sugar and honey (personal choice, not diet or health related restriction).

    I had a lemon lime, a cherry cola, a ginger ale and a cream soda over the course of three hours. It was very humid and they were the least expensive options. They tasted fine, not as sweet as mainstream soda, but not unpleasant. I had eaten lunch a few hours prior to them.

    Well, they may claim that they are less of a problem for the GI, but I don’t think so. Within 10 minutes of leaving, I was severely sick and the 2 hour ride home was hell. It is now 17 hours later and it is still bad enough that I cancelled my appearance today at the fair.

    I may have overdone it, I get it. However, I won’t ever drink or eat this stuff again.

  37. My experience with Erythritol has been overall positive. Unlike maltitol, I didn’t have any digestive problems with it. I used it to bake so I could wean myself off of sugar because I have a hefty waistline and I was told that would help eliminate it if I eliminated sugar from my diet.

    Baking with it is tricky, you have to try to boil it in a little water or heat it up and dry it back out before you actually bake with it, to get rid of that “cool” minty-like sensation.

    What I found with my experiment was that I baked 2 cakes with it and ate all of one over a short period of time and then didn’t finish even half of the second. Shame on me for wasting food but my point is I found that I didn’t crave sugar or even a sugary taste or desire for sweets. I subsequently dropped several inches from my waistline.

    I failed though, I went to a function and decided that I could handle having a little sweet, a piece of cake, just once right? Almost :(

    I found that even though I didn’t crave sweets anymore, I handled that piece of cake beautifully… but within about 2 weeks, the cravings gradually came back and I haven’t made the effort or time to find any erythritol and start the process of weening all over again.

    But it worked for me in a good way and I imagine if I had stayed sugar free my waistline would have stayed slim.

  38. Nectresse is a relatively new product (from McNeil Nutritionals, the makers of Splenda), tastes pretty good. The ingredients are: Erythriol, sugar, monk fruit extract, molasses.

    1/4 tsp = sweetness of 1 tsp sugar.
    Serving size 1/4 tsp, 0 calories.

    Still, there is a little after taste when used to sweeten coffee, none in cooking or baking.

  39. I think if anything is that white and pretty, it can’t be good for you.

    I don’t eat any processed foods, making everything myself using natural sugars in much reduced quantities.

    My husband has a sweet tooth, so I make biscuits, cakes and bread for him using rapadura, coconut sugar, maple syrup and honey.

    I don’t like foods that have been constructed in a laboratory and that’s why I won’t be using Norbu, Stevia granules, Xylitol, Mannitol or any of those sweeteners, just as I won’t use white sugar.

  40. Just wanted to add — not everyone can eat something with stevia in it. My throat constricts, or swells each time I’ve tried and makes swallowing difficult. So I have to stop by the second bite. I believe this kind of reaction is not that uncommon.

  41. Joan Young says:

    Does erythritol have any affect on the liver? I have had a tumor in my liver and am very careful about what I put my liver through. I know fructose is broken down by the liver so I don’t use it anymore. I am curious about the effect erythritol will have on it.

  42. I eat both erythritol and xylitol. The erythritol products I have access to are the Sukrin variants (original, + and Gold). But I also use xylitol because of the prebiotic effects (I don’t get the diarrhea or rambling stomach), and dental benefits. And last but not least: I don’t seem to get hooked, I can be days without and not think about it.

  43. Despite the fact you say there are no side effects in humans, I am highly allergic to erythritol, just yesterday I had some frozen yoghurt from ‘House Of Yogurt’ and I had no idea it had sweeteners added to it.

    But 10 minutes after eating it, I had to go to the doctor for surgery and an allergy injection. I’d broken out in hives, my head was so swollen. I was very lucky, next time it could kill me, if my tongue swells and my throat closes up.

    • That’s interesting because that is the same reaction I get to stevia. I think it is a common (and serious) allergy symptom. You sure are allergic to it, just as I am allergic to stevia. Hopefully you can use something else.

      • I’ve never had pure erythritol, I couldn’t imagine how bad that would be. I’ve tried stevia without erythritol. It tastes absolutely horrid. There is only one stevia sweetener that I have found that doesn’t have erythritol in it. I think they need to add it so it doesn’t taste so bad.

        I just use hermestas artificial sweetener, it tastes better, coffee and tea are the only things I drink besides water, and I don’t drink much of them, so it’s not so bad.

        But this yoghurt place uses “steviosides” which must have erythritol in it. It’s hard nowadays, with everyone being more health aware, they are adding these “natural” sweeteners to everything, the first time I had a reaction I tried out this new cordial, 100% natural, orange juice, no added sugar.

        If you say you’re having this same reaction to stevia I’d say it’s probably the erythritol in it.

  44. I have stopped using Splenda for eight months now and switched to Stevia and noticed a big decrease in my stomach bloating. I bought a new product called “PURE VIA” last week where I shop and want to know if there is any difference from my plain box that reads “STEVIA”?

    The Pure Via ingredients are listed as: Dextrose, Reb A, Cellulose Powder and Natural Flavors. The plain box ingredients are listed as: Erythritol, Rebiana and Natural Flavors. Thanks for any responses.

    • Well, PureVia is a highly refined sweetener manufactured by the same company that owns Pepsi.

      “Dextrose” means that it has also has a carb that is broken down into glucose molecules, so it isn’t as low in carbs and calories as the other one you mentioned.

  45. I use a stevia sweetener called Truvia and it is great. It is stevia and erythritol and I use it for everything that I would normally use sugar in.

    Coffee, tea, pies and it works out great. Stevia in the raw is okay if you can get over the terrible after taste, but would not work out in everything that you would normally use sugar in.

  46. Just another Gary says:

    I’ve made a few treats with erythritol as I am pre diabetic (hah, whatever THAT really means), and have cut way down on carbs in general, but simple carbs in particular.

    I have noticed that I get a burning (almost peppery) sensation on my tongue from things I make with it.

    Anyone else?

  47. Lynda Kamrath says:

    I have been drinking low cal drinks with erythritol and always wanted to know more about erythritol so that is why I am here. As a diabetic, I read all labels and translate sugar to “poison”, aspartame to “poison”, and corn syrup to “poison”.

    So most drinks contain poison and I stay away from them. I don’t like the taste of stevia but it was recommended by my doctor. Erythritol seems like a better sweetener to me.

  48. There is a new and very expensive sweetener made with erithrytol that supposedly tastes better:

    http://bodyecology.com/sugar-substitute-lakanto-sweetener.html

  49. Is Erythritol safe during pregnancy? I don’t eat anything with sugar and stevia was fine for me, but I didn’t find a consensus regarding the use of stevia during pregnancy.

  50. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Natvia. It’s pretty big here in Australia. It’s made with stevia and erythritol. It’s also GMO free. Great with my morning coffee.

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