Dear Dr. Blonz: I purchased sugar-free ice cream and noticed that the carton stated “sugar alcohol: 7 grams per half cup.” What is sugar alcohol, and is this anything I should be concerned about? — D.D., Lafayette, Calif.Dear D.D.: Most think of alcohol in relation to beverages and the ethyl alcohol they contain, but in chemistry, the term “alcohol” can refer to any compound containing a particular chemical structure. A sugar alcohol belongs to the family of carbohydrates having the “alcohol” structure and also a sweet taste. The sugar alcohols include sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol and xylitol. Each has a slightly different take on “sweet,” but one thing they share is that you don’t need to show an ID to buy products containing them (unless, of course, they also contain ethyl alcohol).When compared to regular sugars such as sucrose, glucose or fructose, sugar alcohols contain about half the calories, they are not as rapidly absorbed and they have an insignificant impact on blood sugar level. This makes them useful as a sugar substitute for diabetics and others looking to limit their sugar intake.Sugar alcohols are metabolized differently than other carbohydrates; one beneficial aspect of this is that they do not feed the acid-producing bacteria that live in our mouths. As such, sugar alcohols do not contribute to tooth decay.They are not considered “sugars” for food-labeling purposes, and don’t have to be declared on the label, but they can be. The FDA allows food sweetened only with sugar alcohols to be labeled “sugar free.” While they have their benefits, be careful not to overdo it. Part of the sugar alcohol is not efficiently absorbed, and passes through and ends up being fermented by flora that live in the lower part of the digestive system. This can contribute to abdominal gas and cramping, especially when consumed on an empty stomach.Ed Blonz, Ph.D., is a nutrition scientist and an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Send questions to: “On Nutrition,” Ed Blonz, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. For email, address questions to: email@example.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.
Words in any language can be coined in many different ways.Often very logically from precedents in other languages with slightly different, more specific meanings that expand later, and then at times quite randomly based on mental associations, images, metaphors, particular traits, even phonetic sounds, the human mind relates to an individual or object as characteristic. Ancient language roots or radicals, Indo-European, Greek, Latin, Germanic, also play a vital role as shown below.Let us consider a battery of brief word stories in the field of religion. Take the officials who give us service at the rituals and ceremonies of the church: preacher, pries, pastor, rabbi, parson, abbot, monk, and nun.Preacher goes back to the Middle English prechour all the way to the Latin praedicator, the latter composed of prae, before, and dico, say, related to the verb to predicate. Each Sunday the preacher will say his words before the congregation, this latter term formed from Latin cum, together, plus grex, Latin for herd, from gradi, to step.As any herd steps together, a congregation gathers together for a service, and congress, cum plus grex, is a herd of politicians. In sermons a preacher might even predicate or proclaim what befalls you if you sin. In French preacher is prêcheur, to preach prêcher, earlier prediat, he preaches, ecclesiastical Latin praedicare, announce, publish. German Prediger is preacher, predigen to preach. Latin dicare is the ceremonial form of dicere, to say, now rather meaning proclaim, publicize, consecrate, devote to the gods.Priest came from Old English preost, 1138 French prestre, now prêtre, German prestar, now Priester, Church Latin presbyter, rather a parish elder or oldest, from Greek presbýteros, honored elder of the parish, from the comparative of Greek présbys, old., venerable, reverend. Hence also the term Presbyterian. Latin pasco, feed, gives us pastor, German Pastor, French pasteur.