Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Avoid low glycemic-index hype

Last Updated Aug 2007

In the food industry hype is always more important than reality. The current buzz phrase is low glycemic index. The easiest way to make a processed food product is to take out sugar and add back sugar alcohols. This was the trick used with such wild abandon during the low-carb food mania. Although sugar alcohols are classified as carbohydrates, the marketers of these products spawned a new idea that sugar alcohols aren't really carbohydrates after all so you can just subtract them. Now comes a new report that indicates besides being built on downright lying, such substitutions can be dangerous. It appears, according to an article in the Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association, that many dogs have overdosed on xylitol (commonly used in many "sugar-free" products) and died of liver failure. Other common sugar alcohols have their own problems. Erythritol is the newest favorite, but it can crystallize in the kidney (especially if the person is dehydrated) causing painful kidney stones. Maltitol is actually a high-glycemic sugar alcohol (so much for sugar alcohols having no effect on blood glucose levels) with nasty gastric side effects, such as diarrhea and flatulence. Sorbitol has a lower glycemic index than maltitol, but even greater gastric side effects. So here's a good rule: if you see a "sugar-free" or "low glycemic index" on a food product and it contains sugar alcohols, you are probably much healthier eating a mound of lard.
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