Tags: sorbitol | sugar-free | gum | candy | stomach | gas | cramps

Why Sugar-Free Products Can Cause Painful Gas

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By    |   Monday, 19 February 2024 11:03 AM EST

Do you experience cramps, gas, or other stomach issues after chewing sugar-free gum? Scientists say that the sorbitol in sugar-free gum and candy often triggers digestive problems. Researchers from the University of California, Davis found that changes in the gut microbiome can lead to difficulties in digesting sorbitol, a sugar alcohol commonly found in sugar-free gum, candies, and naturally occurring in fruits like apples and avocados.

According to Study Finds, sorbitol intolerance leads to bloating, cramps, and diarrhea. The UC Davis team conducted studies in mice and discovered a link between the use of antibiotics, high-fat diets, and a decrease in certain gut microbes and a deficiency in the ability to break down sorbitol.

“Our research suggests that microbial sorbitol degradation normally protects the host against sorbitol intolerance. However, an impairment in the microbial ability to break down sorbitol causes sorbitol intolerance,” explained Jee-Yon Lee, first author of the study and a scientist in the UC Davis Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology.

In a press release, the researchers explained that mice given a high-fat diet and antibiotics created a higher level of oxygen in the gut, decreasing the number of Clostridia gut microbes. Without enough Clostridia, sorbitol could not be broken down in the gut.

The scientists tried various experiments to restore the oxygen levels, eventually finding that a gut bacterium called Anaerostipes caccae that produces butyrate helps regulate oxygen levels. They suggest that a drug used to treat ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other inflammatory bowel diseases may function similarly to the butyrate-producing bacteria, restoring the low oxygen levels in the intestine that Clostridia prefers. That drug is called mesalazine, also known as mesalamine.

“This discovery is crucial, given the prevalent use of sorbitol and similar sugar alcohols in the production of keto-friendly diet foods that are high in fat content,” said Lee. “It also highlights the importance of oxygen consumption by the epithelial lining of the intestines in maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria, especially Clostridia, for proper digestion of certain sugars.”

One important limitation of the study is that mice can tolerate higher levels of sorbitol than humans, says Study Finds, because they have a pouch in their digestive system that helps digest carbohydrates. Clinical studies will be need to verify the hypothesis that mesalazine could treat sorbitol intolerance in humans.

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Health-News
Do you experience cramps, gas, or other stomach issues after chewing sugar-free gum? Scientists say that the sorbitol in sugar-free gum and candy often triggers digestive problems. Researchers from the University of California, Davis found that changes in the gut microbiome...
sorbitol, sugar-free, gum, candy, stomach, gas, cramps, diarrhea
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2024-03-19
Monday, 19 February 2024 11:03 AM
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