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Sorbitol and artificial sweeteners
When you see the words “sugar-free” you probably think that the product must be good for you—or at least better than the version that’s chock-full of sugar. That’s not always the case. Things like sugar-free gum, candy, and other foods contain an ingredient called sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that the human body digests and metabolizes very, very slowly, according to Donald Tsynman, MD, at Manhattan Gastroenterology. This slow digestion process can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea, not unlike artificial sweeteners in general. Christina Tennyson, MD, associate physician at Mount Sinai Medical Center, tries to limit her consumption of artificial sweeteners, which are slightly different from sorbitol, saying, “I’d rather have a teaspoon of sugar, which, you know, I don’t think is terrible.”