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Sugar alcohols in sugar-free candy and sugar-free gum are sugar substitutes that can only be partially digested by the body.

Many times you see these in foods like sugar-free candy, gum, and snacks. They’re often listed as xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol.

Because they’re only partially digested in your body, they provide fewer calories per gram than actual sugar, but they also can cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. And all that bloat and gas can cause your abdomen to look distended. So you’re better off avoiding these or consuming them in small quantities to prevent belly bloating.

Chewing sugar-free gum also can lead to the swallowing of air.

The more air that you swallow, the more this air accumulates in your gastrointestinal tract, which can cause bloating, pressure, and belly expansion. In addition, the sugar alcohols in sugar-free gum have some side effects. They can increase gas and cause bloating, abdominal pain, and even diarrhea.

However, gum containing sugar alcohols can have some health benefits, such as helping to prevent dental cavities. It also has no impact on blood sugar and insulin levels due to the low glycemic index of sugar alcohols.

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