Polyols, also referred to as Sugar alcohols, are sweeteners that are neither sugars nor alcohols. However, they closely resemble sugar in texture and taste. The only difference is the fact that Polyols contain far fewer calories than sugar does.
These sweeteners are slowly replacing sugar in many foods, such as chewing gum, some fruit spreads, ice cream, candy and a variety of beverages. The sweeteners are also added to some drugs, such as cough syrups.
Additionally, they form part of the ingredients used in the manufacture of toothpaste and mouthwash. There are various benefits that come with using Polyols. There are also certain side effects associated with them which we will cover later on in subsequent paragraphs.
How Do Sugar Alcohols Work?
Sugar Alcohols work more or less like sugars. They give a sugary taste to foods. The name Polyols is derived from two words; poly, meaning multiple, and alcohol. There are various kinds of Polyols, some of which can be naturally found in fruits such as apples and pears.
Other sugar alcohols are synthetically made, usually from hydrogenating starches and other carbohydrates. Some of the common types of Polyols include lactitol, sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt and hydrogenated starch.
What Are The Benefits Of Sugar Alcohols?
1. Fewer Calories
One of the key benefits of using Polyols is that they contain fewer calories than sugars do. This means that you end up consuming fewer calories but still satisfy your sweet tooth. In the past few decades, humanity has been striving to consume as few calories as possible.
Often, this means keeping a large distance between yourself and sweet, sugar-filled but otherwise nutrient-empty foods. This, in turn, also means that you must exercise formidable self control. Self control does not come easy to most people, who end up consuming far more calories than they would like to.
The fact that Polyols contain few calories also means that people are safeguarded from many life style diseases. The more unnecessary calories you consume, the more weight you gain. Gaining a lot of weight points to inevitable danger. Excess weight is associated with quite a number of diseases, especially heart diseases. Some of these diseases include diabetes, high blood pressure and even heart attacks.
Other than reducing the risk of diseases associated with excess weight, consuming few calories can go a long way in helping you lose weight. The science behind losing weight is that you should burn more calories than you consume. Therefore, pairing exercise with the use of Sugar Alcohols can help you achieve your weight loss goals with more ease.
2. Stable Blood Sugar Levels
Another advantage of using sugar alcohols is that they do not cause a sudden increase in blood sugar levels. When the blood sugar levels keep fluctuating, it can be extremely dangerous.
This is especially true for diabetes patients. Uncontrollable blood sugar levels can cause untold damage to various organs of the body, such as the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves. Even worse is the fact that this damage continues without the patient ever knowing a thing about it. Eventually, when the damage is too much, it starts to show physically. It may occur in the form of a stroke or worse, a heart attack.
Rather than run the risk of a fatal disease, why not simply use Polyols in place of ordinary sugar? With the sugar alcohols, there is little danger of your blood sugar levels increasing in a short period of time. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is essential to good health, and there is no simpler way to maintain that balance other than using Polyols.
3. Good For Your Teeth
Since childhood, you have probably heard a lot about sugar being bad for your teeth. As part of taking good care of your teeth, you have most likely been advised time and time again to keep your distance from sugary foods. So the idea that a sweetener could be good for your teeth is probably very intriguing.
The science behind sugar being “bad for your teeth” is based on the fact that bacteria found in teeth usually convert leftover sugar into acids. The acid then bores holes into your teeth. This results in cavities and ultimately, tooth decay. It is for this reason that you are strongly advised to thoroughly brush your teeth after consuming sugary foods, and at least twice a day.
But what would happen if the bacteria in the mouth were unable to convert leftovers into acids? Certainly, your teeth would be as safe as can be. It is for this reason that Polyols are considered better for your teeth than ordinary sugars. According to scientific studies, bacteria have a hard time converting Polyols into acids. That way, your teeth are protected from the danger of cavities and decay.
What Are The Side Effects Of Polyols?
Although there are many benefits that come from using Polyols, there are also side effects that are associated with these sugar alcohols. Polyols are known to cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
This is because they can only be broken down by bacteria found in the large intestines. This means that they first have to be converted to fats in order for them to be absorbed into the body. Thus, for people who have a sensitive stomach, Polyols may be more than they can handle. They may experience a lot of abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas and even diarrhea.
Contrary to what the name “sugar alcohols” may have you believe, Polyols are not alcoholic in any way. They cannot intoxicate you, and they are not toxic.
Sources of Polyols
Polyols can be naturally found in some fruits such as peaches, berries and prunes. They are also being used to replace sugar in certain foods, such as chocolate, protein bars, candy and ice cream.
Sugar Alcohols Conclusion
Polyols are exceedingly beneficial sweeteners that somehow mitigate the adverse effects of ordinary sugars. They contain fewer calories than ordinary sugar, which is good when you want to lose weight or are in danger of some lifestyle disease.
Also, the sweeteners ensure that your blood sugar levels remain stable, which is more important than you may think. Moreover, the sweeteners do not adversely affect your dental health. However, if you have a sensitive stomach, you may want to limit your use of these sugars.