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.”
It isn’t groundbreaking news that soda is bad for you. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that gastroenterologists avoid drinking soda. In fact, Dr. Tsynman says he tells patients, especially those who are overweight, that if they were to change one thing right away, it should be to switch to water. Soda is filled with large amounts of sugar, and the more you ingest, the more you put your body at risk for obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, and other complications such as heart disease. And diet soda, although it technically doesn’t have real sugar, isn’t much better, as it contains artificial sweeteners that, again, can negatively affect digestion. The carbonation in sodas can also cause problems, potentially leading to GI distress with belching and reflux, according to Dr. Tsynman. Instead, stick with these 13 foods to relieve belly bloat.