November 13, 2009

Artificial Sweeteners Effects

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Passing of gas is a normal phenomenon, but one that can be discomforting and even embarrassing. Gas is produced in the abdomen, specifically the intestines, stomach and esophagus either because of air that may be swallowed or due to the spread of bacteria in undigested food. Air may be swallowed due to eating or drinking too quickly. It can also occur because of smoking, chewing gum or wearing ill-fitted dentures. The swallowed air is expelled through belches by which air from the stomach is pushed out through the esophagus. The air that is not expelled goes towards the small intestine where some of it is absorbed by the body. Some amount of air moves into the large intestine from where it is released from the rectum. Gases are actually a by-product of particular food components which are processed by bacteria which are present naturally in the large intestine. Food material such as starches, fiber and sugars and cellulose are broken down by these bacteria. The kinds of bacteria that are present in the colon determine the mixtures and amount of gases that are created. These gases can be carbon dioxide, hydrogen and sometimes methane. Hydrogen sulfide is the gas that is responsible for the odor that occurs. The same foods that create gas in a particular individual may not produce gas in other individuals.

Sorbitol is a sugar substitute that is added to many diet foods and has been known to cause flatulence or gas, bloating and diarrhea. Sorbitol is also used as a laxative as it serves to draw water inside the large intestine, and as such helps to stimulate bowel motions. Sorbitol has been classified as safe to use, however medical supervision is recommended. Links have also been found between sorbitol and irritable bowel syndrome. Artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes carry a warning on their labels about excessive consumption leading to a laxative effect. However, these warnings are often written in very fine print and also what qualifies as excess usage has not been explained.

Sorbitol that is not digested in the small intestine contributes to bacteria fermentation. The hydrogen that is produced results in stomach cramps, flatulence and bloating. Consumption of sorbitol in an amount as low as 10g a day leads to diarrhea. Sorbitol is what is called a polyalcohol sugar which is not digested nor is it absorbed by the small intestine. It travels to the colon where it moves through the intestine lining and causes the fluids to flow in an opposite direction. Thus leads to watery bowel motions. If sorbitol is causing flatulence, it is best to avoid or limit the consumption of this artificial sweetener.