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Which Sweetener is Best For Gut Health?

by Sarah Jackson, MS, RDN, CLT

photo by: Mathilde Langevin


Confused ๐Ÿค” on which sweetener to use to protect your gut health? Read on!๐Ÿ‘‡


My gut health clients typically ask me this on the regular, so I wanted to shed some light on the topic! ๐Ÿ’ก


You see, the gut microbiome is like a fingerprint โ˜๏ธ, each one is unique ๐Ÿฆ„. The sweetener I recommend my clients use depends on their particular condition or set of concerns.


So letโ€™s break down the list shall we ๐Ÿ“


1. Stevia

This plant derived sweetener is used in soooo many food products now but there is some research that indicates it may interrupt gut microbe signaling, which may lead to suboptimal function ๐Ÿ˜ฆ. However more research ๐Ÿ”ฌ is needed to make any definitive conclusions! ๐Ÿค“


2. Cane sugar๐Ÿญ

The classic sweet stuff is also found in most packaged food items in markets nowadays. From cupcakes to marinades, it serves many functions in cooking. It's a natural anti-microbial, assists in texture in baked goods and of course, accentuates and/or balances flavors in a variety of dishes. There is some research that has found that ingesting too much added sugar may impact the integrity of the intestinal wall, leading to intestinal permeability, among other things! Keeping in mind balance and moderation with added sugar containing foods is key ๐Ÿ”‘

3. Erythritol

This sweetener is gaining popularity on the food scene since it is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that isnโ€™t as fermentable by gut bacteria, as compared to other artificial sugars. Unfortunately, it has been linked to digestive symptoms when consumed in excess in some studies. ๐Ÿคญ


4. Sucralose (aka splenda)

This artificial sugar๐Ÿงช combines molecules from sugar and chlorine to form a much sweeter version of its predecessor . As with most other artificial sugars, it's fermented in the gut, since the body doesnโ€™t absorb it. Because of this, it can cause pain and bloating in some people ๐Ÿ˜“. Not only that, in some animal studies, Sucralose was shown to kill off as many as 50% of good microbes in the gut! ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ‘Ž



5. Maple syrup

The winner on this list is maple syrup ๐Ÿฅ‡. It is one of my favorites (as you might tell from my recipes) for many reasons. It contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that helps the good microbes in the gut thrive. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘


6. Honey

Honey is a natural sweetener that contains polyphenols, antioxidants and a rich flavor that can't be matched. However, honey does contain fermentable carbohydrates that may not be well tolerated by those with certain functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. For those who can tolerate honey without GI distress, it is also a great choice!



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