Stevia is being used in a growing number of products as a substitute for sugar and other artificial sweeteners. Stevia comes from a plant and is better for you than chemically altered sweeteners like Splenda. Quite often you will also see Erythritol as an ingredient in these products. (Like in Zevia soft drinks, for example.) What exactly is Erythritol?
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol. What makes it different than other sugar alcohols is that most of it is digested before it hits the large intestine and results in fewer gastro-intestinal side effects. It's also not metabolized by the bacteria in the gut, which helps avoid some of those bathroom emergencies. Erythritol is found naturally in foods like pears, grapes, melons and wine but can also be manufactured to be used in food products.
Studies have been done on rats and dogs that were fed much higher amounts per kg of body weight than a person would normally eat. The article that I read says that there were very few gastrointestinal side effects and in rats there was an increase of urine output several months into the study. (I believe it was 10% increase.) It is possible to get some bloating from this product, but you would have to eat a lot of it!
After the reading I have done about Stevia and Erythritol I am comfortable using both products and am also comfortable letting my children use these products. If you have other health issues, kidney issues or IBS you may be more sensitive than the average Joe/Jane. Always use common sense when using any food additive or supplement.
Mark's Daily Apple has an excellent post about all of the different sugar alcohols. I highly recommend reading it!
- Erythritol: A Review of Biological and Toxicological Studies
- Wikipedia: Erythritol
- Wikipedia: Stevia