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Polyols—a type of sugar alcohol

Views: 287     Author: Vickey     Publish Time: 2023-05-25      Origin: Site


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Polyols—a type of sugar alcohol

You may have heard that polyols are sugar alcohols; they may be produced artificially and added to processed meals as a low-calorie sweetener, or they can exist naturally in foods (like fruit and vegetables). This is why you frequently find them in protein bars for weight reduction and diabetic treats.Unfortunately, sugar alcohols tend to mess with our digestive systems and can give some individuals IBS symptoms, which are downright unpleasant.

Why are Polyols a problem?

Our bodies only absorb around one-third of the polyols we ingest, and how much depends on the type of polyol and the individual. When polyols are ineffectively digested, our gut bacteria feast on the sugars and quickly ferment them, which causes IBS symptoms.

Because polyols have a well-known laxative effect, chewing gum packs carry warnings that excessive intake may result in diarrhea. When the polyols are ineffectively digested, water is drawn into the large intestine, which causes the food to pass through the intestines rapidly and cause bowel movements.

Where are polyols found?

The two polyols that receive the most attention are sorbitol and mannitol, which may be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Polyols may also be manufactured, and they are frequently hidden in processed foods like chewing gum, chocolates, jams and jellies, ice cream, hard candies, toffees, jams and preserves, protein powders, baked goods, nutritional supplements, diabetic supplements, cough drops, and throat lozenges.

Make sure you don't get caught out by checking the ingredient lists of processed foods, and pay close attention to any product that states it is sugar free, as these often contain high FODMAP sugar alcohols or inulin.

What are the different sugar alcohols?


Fruits, including apples, apricots, avocado, blackberries, cherries, lychee, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and prunes, frequently contain sorbitol. Because it is produced and used as an artificial sweetener, sorbitol has a sweetness level that is around 60% higher than that of sucrose (table sugar). As 420 and glucitol are other names for sorbitol, check processed items for these substances.


A variety of fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, cauliflower, celery, snow peas, and sweet potatoes, naturally contain mannitol. Additionally, fructose from cornstarch may be used to make mannitol. Look for the mannitol food ingredient with the number 421 in processed items.


Maltitol is another poorly absorbed sugar alcohol. Believe it or not maltitol is actually derived from cornstarch… according to the Sugar Association  “maltitol is manufactured by hydrogenating maltose, the glucose-glucose disaccharide (two sugars) derived from cornstarch.” It is also an ideal sweetener as maltitol is 90% as sweet as sugar, which makes it a highly attractive sugar replacement. Its food additive number is 965.


Lactitol is a sugar alcohol derived from lactose rich whey. It is commonly used in chewing gum, hard and soft candies, and frozen dairy desserts and is often mixed with other artificial sweeteners. Watch out for the food additive number 966.


Low levels of xylitol naturally occur in fruits, vegetables, and other plants. For example, foods such as raspberries, strawberries, and endives contain xylitol. These fruits and vegetables are thought to be low-FODMAP since the levels seem to be low enough.Commercial extraction of xylitol from hardwood trees and corncobs is possible; however, it raises concerns when used in greater quantities as an artificial sweetener. Watch out for xylitol, birch sugar, or 967 while reading labels.


Polyols are sugar alcohols with a high FODMAP content that like to sneak into our meals and upset our digestive systems! It's crucial to exclude high-FODMAP sugar alcohols during the low-FODMAP phase and test them during the reintroduction phase to determine whether you can reintroduce them to your diet. Check the additive numbers on your processed food goods as well to avoid being caught off guard by a polyol.

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