Sorbitol: what it is, calories and intolerance

Sorbitol: what it is, calories and intolerance

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The sorbitol it is one of those substances that we ingest often and willingly without our knowledge, one of those ingredients that do not remain etched in the mind and, who knows why, we hardly ever wonder where they come from. Let's find out what it is, if we hire it and through which foods and, above all, let's try to understand if it is a substance to stay away from.

Sorbitol: what it is

It is chemically speaking of a six carbon alcohol belonging to the category of polyols, this means that from a functional point of view it can be combined with common carbohydrates. Sorbitol has a pleasant flavor which I would call cool, and it's one of the reasons it's used, but not the main one.

Its most attractive feature is the fact that this substance is capable of give consistency to the product because it retains moisture, and to improve its conservation, because it manages to inhibit the development of yeasts, molds and other microorganisms.

This behavior related to the presence of liquids in a food is said hygroscopicity, sorbitol thanks to it is considered a very valuable ingredient when it comes to keep soft longer foods such as plum cakes, sponge cakes and other confectionery products of this type. It is also useful for the same reason when it comes to the softness and conservation of leavened desserts such as the famous panettone, but also croissants and croissants of various kinds.

Let's change the sector and go to that of personal hygiene. Here too we find the sorbitol among the ingredients of many toothpastes and mouthwashes, even in some cosmetics. It is used to give a soft and mellow appearance to the product. Let's move on to the pharmaceutical sector where sorbitol acts as an excipient, as well as a sweetening and hygroscopic substance.

Sorbitol: calories

Since it is found in many confectionery products, and not only that, which many of us probably consume regularly, it is legitimate to ask ourselves how many calories it has, how much it weighs on the daily food balance. In general in the food sector it is considered a acaryogenic sweetener, therefore that does not cause cavities, and low-calorie, therefore with fewer calories than others. Its sweetening power is equal to 60% of that of sugar, but for the same weight it provides 40% fewer calories or 2.6 Kcal / g against 4 for sucrose.

Sorbitol: intolerance

When it comes to intolerance to sorbitol, it is often a question of defining a disorder linked to poor digestion and difficulty in absorbing this organic compound. Very often when it occurs, it emerges in circumstances related to its consumption on the occasion of packaged and pharmaceutical products, you immediately notice it because it is a much used sweetener - preservative.

Of course, the fact that you may develop intolerance to sorbitol does not help the sale and production of drugs and foods that contain it. At the first signs it is better not to immediately think about sorbitol and eliminate all foods and products that contain them in a group, there are specific tests to ascertain intolerance.

Today when in doubt we can perform a clinical test: l'H2 breath-test, or test for the detection of hydrogen in the breath. Let's see what this test is based on. First one is given to the patient aqueous solution of sorbitol, then the concentrations of H2 in the breath are detected at different times of the day. The quantity of hydrogen withdrawn is actually assessed, if it is late significant, it can be deduced that the ingested molecule has not been well digested and therefore has not been absorbed regularly by the small intestine.

If this happens, the substance has remained available for the fermentation of the bacterial flora in the large intestine. Here, during its metabolic processes, the bacterial flora releases H2, hydrogen which is absorbed and dissolved in the blood which, in turn, transports it and spreads it in the lungs to eliminate it. And we, exhaling, we make it "capture" by breath test.

Sorbitol: diabetes

For diabetics, sorbitol is not the best and they have to be careful because it is contained in different types of fruit, especially in the rowan, in many confectionery products and also in candy and chewing gum sugar-free, except in some drugs.

Let's see how a diabetic subject interacts with sorbitol, therefore in one typical hyperglycemic situation. In this situation, it accumulates inside cells and can cause problems with cataracts, renitinopathy and peripheral neuropathies. For this reason, and also considering the possible side effects at the enteric level, sorbitol is not recommended as a sugar substitute in diet of diabetic patients.

Sorbitol: laxative

Among the secondary effects of the sorbitol we find that too laxative, for better or for worse. We explained that it is only partially absorbed by the intestine and, held there, it draws water. If taken in high doses, the effect is completely laxative, which is why sorbitol is not recommended for those who already suffer from irritable bowel syndrome because it causes bloating and abdominal cramps.

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Video: What Are Sugar Alcohols and Are They Healthy? (May 2022).


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