Any food that contains a relatively large amount of low digestible carbohydrates is, as
the term “low digestible” indicates, only partially (or not at all) absorbed in
the upper part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. ISOMALT, like all sugar replacers, is a low digestible carbohydrate. In
the lower part of the GI tract, the non-absorbed portion of such foods is partially or
completely fermented by normal colonic bacteria.
Non-absorbed carbohydrates create
an osmotic effect, pulling water into the intestine, which may sometimes in some people
result in softer or more watery stools. During fermentation, bacteria change low
digestible carbohydrates into short chain fatty acids and gases which might cause
flatulence. Everybody knows that these normal physiological effects to low digestible
carbohydrates occasionally occur, in varying degrees, after consumption of high-fiber
foods, beans and prunes and perhaps cabbage, onions, dried fruit or even milk.
People who are not used to eating
ISOMALT-containing products in the past should
not eat a large amount of them at one time, especially not at first. Some people need to
gradually adapt to higher intakes of all sugar replacers. This precaution is similar to
what most people already know to do when they increase their intake of foods which contain
higher amounts of other low digestible carbohydrates. As occurs with many of these foods,
tolerance to sugar replacers increases significantly after a few days of adaptation.
Most people can eat fairly large
amounts of low-digestible carbohydrate containing foods without feeling uncomfortable.
Others, however, have learned that such foods can cause an unpleasant GI response;
therefore, they limit their consumption to smaller portions. Very few, but some, people
are so sensitive to low-digestible carbohydrate that even small amounts cause them
A person’s response to low
digestible carbohydrates, including ISOMALT, varies depending on the individual and factors such as one’s
total diet, how much and when this type of carbohydrate is consumed. The few people who
might be sensitive usually have no problem if they start with small portions and gradually
increase their consumption of low digestible carbohydrates.
Many gastrointestinal tolerance
studies have also been conducted. For example, a study of children showed no significant
increase in symptoms of intolerance between children who consumed ISOMALT-containing candies compared to those who
ate sucrose-containing candies. In another study with healthy adults, daily doses of up to
48 grams were well tolerated.