eat real food, whole good diet, what is a sugar alcohol

The Case Against Sugar Alcohols - A Shift in Perspective

With the unstoppable rise in obesity, diabetes, and other weight-related health problems, everyone seems to be reaching and searching desperately for a quick fix or some miracle diet. We search for these fixes and diets in hopes we will be able to continue to eat the processed and artificial foods that have gotten us into the predicament we’re already in. How long will we continue to consume the “low-calorie” and “sugar-free” foods with the lab-created ingredients our bodies were never meant to process in the first place? What extent are we willing to sacrifice our health for the sake of yielding results faster?

We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to look better and be the seemingly healthiest versions of ourselves all while continuing to eat the sweets we are unflinchingly addicted to. No matter how hard we try to fight it and convince ourselves the quick fixes are “safe,” our bodies are paying a price they were never meant to bear in the first place. 

With all this being said, let’s start from the very beginning and ask a simpler question:

What is a sugar alcohol?

There are two primary categories for sweeteners, nutritive and artificial. Nutritive sweeteners are naturally occurring and provide energy in the form of calories. On the contrary, artificial sweeteners do not provide calories. Sugar alcohols are a unique type of nutritive sweetener in that they contain fewer calories than common table sugar (sucrose), but more calories than artificial sweeteners.

Sugar alcohols, also called polyols, are low digestible carbohydrates created through the process of substituting the aldehyde group of a molecule with a hydroxyl group. While some sugar alcohols are found naturally in small amounts in fruits and vegetables, most are processed from other sugars such as glucose. Polyols, when added to foods, are considered food additives; food additives are substances intentionally added to foods to perform a specific function such as add color, sweeten, or act as a preservative.

There are several common types of sugar alcohols; the most common being xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, and erythritol. Each type differs by taste, calorie content, and the effect it has on your health. Sugar alcohols are most commonly found in products that claim to be sugar-free and low-carb such as candy, gum, ice cream, baked goods, and many nutrition supplements like protein powders and pre-workout. Some non-food sources include toothpaste, mouthwash, and cough syrups. This is a prime example of why the ingredient list should be looked at before the nutrition label. The ingredients we put into our bodies matters more than any fad diet you will eventually tire of. Although sugar alcohols are found naturally in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables, there is nothing natural about those found in sugar-free and low-carb foods.

What is so bad about sugar alcohols?

Simply put, sugar alcohols are not fully absorbed by the body. This incomplete absorption allows the sugar alcohols to ferment by bacteria in our gut causing bloating, diarrhea, flatulence and other means of GI distress. The fact that our bodies were not made to absorb these ingredients causes us to question why we’re putting them in our foods in the first place. Once again, the desire for “low-calorie” and “low-carb” foods come into play. The perception that these kinds of foods are more acceptable to eat large quantities for the sake of being lower in calories is a far too common misconception. Weight gain occurs when we consume anything in excess of our daily caloric requirement, regardless of whether it’s low-calorie or not. If we’re consuming sugar-alcohol sweetened foods in excess, we will gain weight just as we would if we consume foods sweetened with real natural ingredients.

So, what’s the difference? One word: quality. This is where the quality of ingredients comes into play. We can fill our bodies with processed and artificial foods for whatever reasons we try and convince ourselves with, but let us ask a simple question; how does your body feel? The way we feel, not look, in our skin should be our biggest priority. The way in which our bodies perform should be made more of a priority than currently is, not even a second thought. It’s time we start fueling ourselves with the natural ingredients grown straight from the soil. Our bodies run best when they run on 100% real food ingredients that can be digested and absorbed the way our bodies were made to do. This is what Wildway stands for and what we will continue to live out until the end of time. We’ve seen the lives changed, bodies transformed, mindsets shifted; we are too passionate to stop talking about what really matters, regardless of whether it’s the popular opinion or not.

We need to admit that America has a sweet tooth problem. The issue isn’t natural sugars, it’s us. We try so hard to create loopholes that make it seem as if we’re eating healthier but are really adding to the problem. The diet industry knows what sells, and they are willing to do whatever it takes. The “0g sugar” label you see on foods is a misleading marketing strategy. There is still sugar in those products but in the form of processed sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners. It’s time we recognize our own faults; we’ve developed an emotional and psychological addiction to sugar. Sugar alcohols are not the answer to our obesity or diabetes problem but only contribute to the problem by making it seem as if eating copious amounts of sweets is somehow better because it contains less sugar and fewer calories. Our sweet teeth are taking control now more than ever and we’re only fueling the fire by becoming more reliant on unnatural sugars.

How do we make the change and why should we bother?

We must train our taste buds to be less dependent on sugar to ease our addiction. The less and less we give in to our cravings the more infrequent we will experience such cravings. You might be thinking to yourself this sounds restrictive and unattainable, but no words we say will ever make you understand the way taking action will. This is something you need to do for yourself, nobody else can do it for you. A good place to start would be replacing the baked goods and sugary candies with other sweet treats made with real ingredients that will give you the same satisfaction. Sliced fruit, dark chocolate with no added sugars, nuts and dried fruit, and of course, and flavor of Wildway Grain-Free granola are all perfect sources to cure any sweet tooth.

If there’s one thing you take away from this article it should be this: eat real food to feel real good. Sugar alcohols are not the saving grace of our obesity and other nutrition-related problems, they are only adding to the problem. We need to shift our mindsets from “how can I change my food?” to “how is my food changing me?” The sooner we realize the impact processed ingredients have on our bodies, the sooner we run to the wholesome and natural ingredients our bodies were always meant to be fueled by. The time to make the change to be more mindful and purposeful about what we put into our bodies is now. Let’s agree to start loving our bodies the way they deserve to be loved instead of how we feel we deserve to show them love.