Upset Stomach From Erythritol? Here’s What to Do.
If you want to cut back on sugar, you may be familiar with natural sweeteners that have fewer calories and do not affect your blood sugar like table sugar does. One of those options is erythritol, which is a well-tolerated sweetener for most people. Unfortunately, some find that eating foods containing erythritol causes them digestive discomfort.
Erythritol is a zero calorie sugar alcohol sweetener that is around 70% as sweet as sugar. It is naturally found in small amounts in some fruits as well as fermented foods such as wine and cheese.
Only recently has erythritol been used in larger amounts in recipes to sweeten foods. Erythritol can cause digestive discomfort because your body does not break it down, so it passes through your gastrointestinal tract intact, just like fiber.
But that doesn't mean you have to avoid products containing this sweetener. By knowing how to avoid digestive discomfort caused by erythritol, you may be able to use products containing it without any issues.
What causes digestive discomfort from erythritol?
There are several reasons why erythritol might cause you problems.
Digestive discomfort from erythritol can occur when people consume too much of it, or if they have imbalances in their gut flora. Low levels of certain friendly bacteria that help you digest your food can cause digestive problems in general.
Erythritol also attracts water, which means that it could pull water through your intestinal walls and cause loose, watery stools.
How to reduce digestive troubles from erythritol
Reduce or eliminate erythritol.
One way to reduce digestive discomfort from erythritol is to reduce the amount you consume. You'll have to experiment with this by starting small and slowly increasing your amount. Your body will let you know when you’ve had too much. Some people will be able to have a little, others will be able to have more, and some people won’t tolerate any amount at all. You may find that you need to skip erythritol entirely and opt for another type of sweetener.
Monk fruit sweetener is a good option. However, a lot of monk fruit sweeteners are cut with erythritol because they are potent on their own. Lakanto® Pure Monk Fruit Extract has only one ingredient: monk fruit extract. So, if you’re sensitive to erythritol, you don’t have to worry about any of its effects.
Take a break from the sugar alcohols that cause you problems.
If you get severe stomach cramps or diarrhea from erythritol or other sugar alcohols, try cutting out those products completely for one week. This may be enough to reset your system and give your gut bacteria time to gradually adapt to them again.
Eat lots of vegetables and drink lots of water.
Erythritol is hygroscopic so it absorbs water, making your stools loose. Hydrated stools are usually easier to pass than dehydrated ones.
Use other natural sweeteners.
When you're using erythritol for cooking or baking, try replacing a portion of the erythritol with pure monk fruit extract or monk fruit sweetener drops. Be sure to pay attention to conversion charts, because it is not a one-to-one substitute!
Focus on gut health.
Some sources believe that digestive discomfort from erythritol is caused by imbalances in your microbiome, the ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that naturally occur in your gut. If you optimize your gut, there's a chance that you won't experience as many problems with erythritol.
Ways to support your microbiome:
- Eat foods that are already rich in beneficial bacteria. Think fermented vegetables, such as raw sauerkraut, or homemade yogurt.
- Consider taking a high-quality probiotic supplement, because probiotics can help to balance out imbalances in your microbiome that cause digestive problems.
- Eliminate foods that are known to cause microbiome imbalances, like sugar.
- Reduce your stress. Stress alters the colonies in your gut, and may favor certain species that don’t love you back.
- Prioritize sleep. Poor sleep habits also alter your gut microbes. Make sure to do what you can to get adequate rest at night.