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The Sound Bite | Nutrition news for a healthier you

What candy has dieters running for the restroom?

Online reviewers lament the gastric distress caused by sugar-free gummy bears.

By Linda Melone Sep 30, 2013 11:35PM
I’ve never understood the appeal of gummy bears. If I want something sweet, I’ll grab a piece of chocolate or a handful of M&Ms, not a ball of flavored rubber cement. And now I have a new reason to avoid gummies at all costs.
Haribo Sugarless Gummy Bears are quickly earning a reputation for causing gastric distress equivalent to eating “100 Ex-lax tablets.” Reviewers claim the effect of eating the innocent-looking bears is quick and fierce, and had them racing to the restroom within minutes. Apparently, if the laxative effect doesn’t get you, the bloating and noxious gastric distress will.

The likely culprit behind this most unpleasant side effect is the sweetener, Lycasin, a registered trade name for a sweetener made from maltitol. A sugar alcohol, maltitol falls into the same category as sorbitol and xylitol (often found in sugarless gum), artificial sweeteners containing half the calories of sugar without the same increase in blood sugar, making it ideal for diabetics. All may cause “gastric symptoms,” especially in children, according to the American Diabetes Association.

To their credit, the Haribo company notes “…this product may cause intestinal distress if eaten in excess.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t specify the “dosage” limits.

A study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition validates the laxative effect of Lycasin, stating its effect is “dose dependent.” So the more you eat, the faster you need to run. According to online reviews, 15 to 20 gummies were enough to, um, let the train out of the station.

To save yourself from a night of misery, the American Diabetes Association recommends cutting back on the regular version of the food, rather than buying the sugar-free version.  If you do choose to indulge, limit yourself to a few pieces—for your own sake and for the sake of those around you.

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6Comments
Oct 1, 2013 5:09AM
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sugar free gummy bears will come in handy whenever i get into a constipated state of being in the future
Jan 26, 2014 6:26AM
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Do yourself a favor. Find the 5 lbs bag of these on Amazon and read the reviews. I couldn't stop laughing it is a really good read. Here is one of the best:
Oct 1, 2013 2:05PM
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This really shouldn't surprise you.  Nothing that is named diet or sugar free is good for you.  It has chemicals in them instead that within time is sure to kill you quicker than if you just had enjoyed the real thing.  The alternative sugars that are now used in all diet drinks and sugar free foods are the same ingredients, used in an experiment world wide known, to kill fire ants.  Main thing, sugar free and diet drinks and food taste like crap.  So why subject yourself to it?  Just saying.

Oct 1, 2013 2:28AM
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I am very sensitive to those compounds. I have to read the ingredients on every package or my day will be ruined very fast.
Jan 25, 2014 5:09AM
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It isn't regular gummy bears, it is the sugar free type with Lycasin which is a brand name for Mantitol which is one of many sugar alcohols used in sugar free products.  It is plant based but made to keep your body from processing it.  It ferments in your stomach, just like plant matter does to make alcohol, producing gas and causing distress.  It is used in many candies, not just the gummy bears.  Russell Stover uses it in their candy.  It does taste good, in fact in the Russell Stover products, I couldn't really tell the difference between it and the ones with sugar.  Just eating a one serving 2 pack caused gas and need to use the restroom all of a sudden.  I can see why the reviewer had the problem.  I actually read that review, and several similar ones,  before I found this site.  One person suggested sending a bag to each member of congress.  If you research Lycasin is used as a laxative in the medical profession.

What a great deal for the chemical companies that invent them, sell for sugar-free products, an exploding market (pun intended), and as a laxative to the medical community, a win-win for them. 

I wouldn't eat them as a laxative unless you enjoy gurgling stomach, gas and cramping.

Oct 1, 2013 3:39AM
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Never have had that problem with Gummy bears, in fact I had some the other night.
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