Erythritol & the Low FODMAP Diet
Erythritol is a polyol, however according to Monash University this sugar alcohol is generally well absorbed in our small intestines, which means it might be less likely to trigger gastrointestinal symptoms (9). Other research shows that erythritol can increase fructose malabsorption, which is an important consideration when challenging excess fructose (1).
So how do you treat erythritol in ingredient list while in the first phase of the low FODMAP diet? That is a great question. Before we answer that, let’s look at what erythritol is.
What is erythritol?
Erythritol is a four-carbon sugar alcohol that is well absorbed in our small intestines when compared to the high FODMAP sugar alcohols (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol or isomalt) (1). Research indicates that only 10% of the erythritol ingested makes it to our large intestine, and unlike other polyols our gut bacteria do not rapidly ferment erythritol in our large intestines (1 3). This means erythritol is less like to trigger gut symptoms.
Currently the effect erythritol has on symptoms hasn’t been studied in people with IBS.
Can you eat erythritol while on the low FODMAP diet?
If you are in the first phase of the low FODMAP diet then we suggest you have a look at your diet. If you are eating a product that contains erythritol every day, then you may want to limit your intake of that product until your symptoms settle, then you can test your tolerance to the product.
Research also suggests that erythritol can increase the malabsorption of fructose, which in turn could trigger IBS symptoms (1 4 5). This means you may also want to reduce your erythritol consumption when you do your fructose challenge so you get accurate results.
Where is erythritol found?
Erythritol is found naturally in some fruits, mushrooms, and fermented foods like sherry, wine, and soy sauce (1 8). On the low FODMAP diet some wines, soy sauce, and certain fruits are considered low FODMAP and do not need to be removed from the diet. Erythritol can also be semi-artificially produced by the fermentation of glucose, derived from wheat or cornstarch, by using non-pathogenic yeasts (8). This type of erythritol is used as an artificial sweetener in chewing gum, confectionery, jams, coffee syrups, beverages, and sugar substitutes (it is often added to stevia sugar substitutes like Natvia and Truvia) (1 6 7 8).
The good news is erythritol is less likely to trigger gastrointestinal symptoms compared to other high FODMAP polyols. If you are just starting the low FODMAP diet then you might want to limit your intake of erythritol. Once your symptoms are are settled, you can test your tolerance levels to products containing erythritol as an ingredient.