I spoke at Low Carb Breckenridge in February 2017. There were a number of stalls around the conference hall, where low-carb products and services were being sold, or given away, to delegates. As meals were not provided and the days were long (talks from 7.30am to 7.30pm), the most popular stalls at lunchtime were the ones selling or giving away food. One of the stalls featured a new sweetener. This sweetener was based on six others: Tagatose; Erythritol; Maltitol; Stevia Leaf Extract; Monk Fruit Extract and Xanthan Gum.
I forget all the sweetened food options on this stall, but I do remember a cream, berry and granola pot, which was easy to eat standing up. Andy and I shared one and didn’t finish it, as it was way sweeter than anything we are used to. We thought nothing more of it until later that day and the next morning when the talk of the conference was the number of people who had spent the rest of the day/night on the toilet!
Two of the sweeteners in the new sweetener were sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols end in “ol”, e.g., erythritol, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol etc. They are INcompletely absorbed and digested by the body. They come with a ‘laxative effect’ warning on food labels. They can cause gas, bloating, discomfort and diarrhea. A number of people at the conference found this out for themselves.
I share this story as background to this week’s note, which is about the sugar alcohol sweetener called erythritol. A paper has just been published in Nature Medicine. The paper was called “The artificial sweetener erythritol and cardiovascular event risk” (Ref 1). The lead author was Witkowski.