Trusted for 23+ Years
Is The Sweetener Erythritol In Your Flavored Lubricants And Should You Be Worried?
Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert
Why Erythritol In Lubricants Is Not A Good Idea
Before discussing erythritol in detail, let's first answer an important question about our lubricants. We don't sell any lubricants that have erythritol in them. This is not because of the 2023 study that outlines cardiovascular concerns but because erythritol is a sugar alcohol and a type of carbohydrate, and carbohydrates can provide a food source for yeast and bacteria.
Thus, using a personal lubricant containing erythritol could potentially increase the risk of yeast infections or other types of infections in the genital area. Additionally, erythritol can be drying and may diminish lubrication for sexual activity. Therefore, it is generally best to avoid using flavored lubricants with erythritol for these reasons.
We take our expertise in sexual health education quite seriously, so you can feel confident and secure that all of our sexual products are body-safe and fully enjoy your intimate experiences with peace of mind.
The Health Concerns Regarding Erythritol
There are some worries people have about erythritol in sexual products as a sweetener, so let's talk about those concerns. Erythritol has been linked to an increased risk of blood clotting, stroke, heart attack, and death. These concerns are based on one study that found that people with existing risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, were twice as likely to experience a heart attack or stroke if they had high levels of erythritol in their blood.
What Is Erythritol?
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is commonly used as a sugar substitute. It occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods, but most commercially available erythritol is produced by fermenting glucose with yeast or other microorganisms.
It is a white, crystalline powder that looks and tastes similar to sugar but has fewer calories and does not raise blood sugar levels. It is also non-cariogenic, meaning that it does not promote tooth decay. Because of these properties, erythritol is often used as a sugar substitute in various products, including baked goods, beverages, and chewing gum.
It is important to note that erythritol is not an artificial sweetener; it exists naturally, and our body makes it. There's just not enough in nature to go out and harvest it, so we make it artificially even through it is essentially natural.
Are Erythritol And Stevia The Same?
Erythritol and stevia are not the same; they are different natural sweeteners, although they are both marketed as natural, zero-calorie alternatives to sugar and sometimes used together. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol extracted from corn or other plant sources, while stevia is a plant-based sweetener extracted from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant. They both have a glycemic index of 0, which means they don't spike blood sugar levels as much as regular sugar does.
While erythritol is generally well-tolerated by most people, some critics have noted that it can have a slightly bitter or metallic aftertaste. This has led some food and beverage manufacturers to blend erythritol with other sweeteners, such as stevia, to achieve a better flavor profile.
Why Has Erythritol Become So Popular?
Erythritol has gained popularity because it is a natural sweetener as opposed to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin. It is especially popular in keto products, protein bars, energy drinks, and gum.
The body does not fully absorb erythritol, so it passes through the digestive system without being metabolized. This makes it a good option for people who have digestive issues or who are following a low-FODMAP diet.
What Does The 2023 Erythritol Study Mean?
The 2023 study on erythritol and cardiovascular risks was the first study to examine erythritol in this manner. It's important to note that it was an observational study and was not causational. This means it did not prove that erythritol causes cardiovascular risks.
Thus, we can't say for sure if the health concerns are caused by erythritol in this study. The reason for this is that elevated erythritol levels could be due to another underlying condition, which could actually be causing the health concerns outlined in the study.
Why More Information Is Needed
The study didn't measure the dietary intake of erythritol, so we don't know if the participants in the study consumed it and, if so, how much was consumed. This would make one wonder if they were only looking at people with a high risk of cardiovascular disease.
This distinction is vital because erythritol can be made by the body in response to vascular damage. Additionally, since it was only in people with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, the same health concerns cannot be attributed to the general public.
The Chicken & Egg Question
The other important aspect to remember is that when artificial sweeteners first became popular, people thought they caused obesity just because obese people were using them. However, many obese people try to reduce calories to avoid gaining more weight, so it would make sense that you would see many obese people consuming artificial sweeteners.
Studies have not been able to prove that artificial sweeteners cause obesity, just like erythritol may not cause heart problems. However, people who already have heart problems may consume or produce more erythritol, so we are left wondering which came first, the chicken (cardiovascular problems) or the egg (erythritol levels)? Therefore, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between these factors.
Who Should Be Most Concerned?
If you are at risk of cardiovascular disease, it is worth talking to your doctor about reducing your erythritol intake. Also, see our Ultimate Personal Lubricant Guide for more helpful information on choosing healthy lubricants.