What are the side effects of yacon syrup?

Yacon syrup is a sweetener that has recently grown in popularity as a low calorie sugar substitute. It is made from the roots of the yacon plant, which is native to South America and looks similar to a sweet potato. Yacon syrup contains high amounts of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are a type of soluble fiber that provides sweetness but cannot be broken down by the human digestive system.

As a result, yacon syrup has very few calories per serving compared to regular sugar. This makes it an attractive option for people looking to reduce their sugar and calorie intake. Additionally, the FOS in yacon syrup serve as prebiotics that feed healthy bacteria in the gut. This can provide benefits for digestion and overall health.

However, there are some potential side effects to be aware of when consuming yacon syrup. In this article, we’ll explore the following questions:

What are fructooligosaccharides and how do they affect the body?

What are the most common side effects of consuming yacon syrup?

Who should avoid or limit yacon syrup intake?

How much yacon syrup can you safely consume per day?

Tips for minimizing side effects from yacon syrup


Let’s look at each of these topics in more detail:

What are fructooligosaccharides and how do they affect the body?

Yacon syrup contains very high levels of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which give it its sweet taste. FOS are a type of soluble fiber that are composed of short chains of fructose molecules.

Unlike sucrose or table sugar, the fructose bonds in FOS cannot be broken down by human digestive enzymes. Therefore, FOS pass through the small intestine undigested and reach the colon intact.

In the colon, FOS serve as prebiotics – they provide fuel for healthy gut bacteria like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species. This helps stimulate the growth and activity of these beneficial bacteria.

Some effects of FOS in the body include:

– Provide very few calories: Because FOS are not digested, yacon syrup has a very low calorie density. FOS provide about 1.5-2 calories per gram, while sugar provides 4 calories per gram.

– May lower blood sugar: Emerging research shows yacon syrup may help lower fasting blood glucose and insulin levels compared to regular sugar. The FOS provide sweetness without spikes in blood glucose.

– Improve digestion: By stimulating growth of healthy gut bacteria, FOS can aid digestion and help relieve constipation for some people.

– Provide prebiotic benefits: FOS support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which play important roles in immune health, vitamin production, digestion, and more.

However, because it is a soluble fiber that is fermented by gut bacteria, consuming too much FOS can potentially lead to some adverse side effects like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. This is especially likely when first introducing yacon syrup into the diet.

What are the most common side effects of consuming yacon syrup?

While yacon syrup has potential health benefits, there are some possible side effects to be aware of, particularly when consuming high amounts:

– Gas and bloating: Because FOS are fermented by gut bacteria, a common side effect is increased gas production and bloating. This is more likely at higher intakes.

– Diarrhea: Some people experience loose stools or diarrhea from the osmotic effects of FOS drawing more water into the colon, and from digestion by gut bacteria. Too much FOS at once can cause urgent, watery stools.

– Stomach cramps or discomfort: The gas, bloating, and diarrhea resulting from yacon syrup consumption may also lead to stomach cramps or discomfort in some individuals.

– Allergic reactions: Some people may have allergic reactions to yacon syrup, especially those with birch pollen or latex allergies. Reactions may include itching, hives, swelling, and anaphylaxis. Discontinue use if any allergy symptoms develop.

The key is to consume yacon syrup in moderation, especially when first introducing it to your diet. Start with small amounts and gradually increase intake to assess your personal tolerance. Be sure to drink plenty of water as well.

Who should avoid or limit yacon syrup intake?

While yacon syrup is safe for most people in moderate amounts, the following groups may want to avoid high intakes:

– Those with IBS or digestive conditions like Crohn’s disease: Yacon syrup can exacerbate digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Those with IBS or other medical conditions affecting the digestive tract should limit yacon syrup intake.

– Children: The gut microbiota of children is still developing, so they may experience more adverse effects from the high FOS content of yacon syrup. Intake should be limited in children, especially younger than 2 years old.

– Pregnant or breastfeeding women: There is insufficient research on yacon syrup intake during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so it is best to exercise caution and limit consumption.

– Those with fructose intolerance: Since FOS are fructose-based fibers, people with fructose intolerance like hereditary fructose intolerance (HFI) should avoid yacon syrup.

– Those taking certain medications: The digestive effects of yacon syrup could potentially interact with certain drugs like antacids, laxatives, blood sugar lowering medications, diuretics, and heart medications. Those on medications should consult their doctor before using yacon syrup.

Moderation and gradual introduction of yacon syrup is advised for most other healthy adults. As with any sweetener, excessive intake of high-FOS yacon syrup may lead to adverse effects in the digestive system. Monitoring your personal tolerance level is key.

How much yacon syrup can you safely consume per day?

There are no official recommendations for yacon syrup intake. However, based on expert analysis of the available research, the suggested safe intake levels are:

– Up to 20 grams of FOS per day: Most healthy adults can tolerate up to 20 grams of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) per day without experiencing adverse side effects. Since yacon syrup is about 30-50% FOS, this equals 40-65 grams (or about 3-5 tablespoons) of yacon syrup daily.

– Start with no more than 5 grams of FOS: When first introducing yacon syrup, it is best to start with a very small amount providing around 5 grams of FOS and gradually work up to 20 grams per day based on your tolerance. This would equal about 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of yacon syrup.

– Spread intake throughout the day: To help minimize digestive side effects, it is best to divide your daily yacon syrup intake into several smaller portions consumed throughout the day with meals and snacks.

– Drink plenty of water: Be sure to drink adequate water to help flush out some of the excess fibers and prevent dehydration from possible diarrhea. Aim for 8 glasses of water daily.

Pay attention to your body’s signals when introducing yacon syrup. Temporarily reduce intake if you experience unpleasant side effects like excessive gas, bloating, diarrhea, or stomach pain. Increase intake slowly over several weeks to allow your digestive system to adapt.

Tips for minimizing side effects from yacon syrup

Here are some additional tips to help reduce the risk of adverse side effects when consuming yacon syrup:

– Start slow: Begin with no more than 1 teaspoon per day and slowly work your way up to assess tolerance, rather than jumping into high intakes.

– Try it with food: Consuming yacon syrup along with a meal can help slow digestion and absorption, reducing blood sugar spikes and digestive issues.

– Avoid other high FODMAP foods initially: High FODMAP foods like beans, lentils, apples, and onions can amplify gas and bloating. Limit these foods when first introducing yacon syrup.

– Time intake properly: Consuming yacon syrup in the middle of meals may enhance tolerance compared to taking it on an empty stomach. Avoid it before exercise as well.

– Up probiotics and enzymes: Taking probiotic supplements or digestive enzymes containing xylanase, inulinase, and invertase may aid digestion of the FOS in yacon syrup.

– Lower overall fructose: Keep total fructose intake below 50 grams per day by limiting intake of foods/drinks like honey, high-fructose corn syrup, etc.

– Increase physical activity: Regular exercise helps mitigate gas, bloating, and constipation issues associated with yacon syrup intake.

– Stay hydrated: Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to help digest the fibers and avoid dehydration from possible diarrhea.

By gradually introducing yacon syrup and carefully controlling intake amounts, most people should be able to incorporate it into their diet without unpleasant side effects. Pay attention to your body’s feedback and adjust consumption levels accordingly.


Yacon syrup is a unique sweetener that provides sweetness mainly from FOS rather than sucrose. The high fiber and prebiotic content of FOS offers potential benefits for blood sugar control, digestion, and gut health.

However, yacon syrup intake can also cause side effects like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort in some individuals – especially at high intakes. These effects are dose-dependent and tend to subside over time as your body adjusts.

To minimize adverse effects, start with small amounts of yacon syrup and gradually increase intake over several weeks. Avoid excessive consumption and be cautious if you have IBS, digestive issues, or fructose intolerance. Drinking plenty of water and possibly taking probiotics can also help mitigate side effects.

When consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet, yacon syrup can be a low-calorie sweetener alternative for many people looking to reduce sugar and calories in their diet. Be mindful of your personal tolerance level and adjust consumption to minimize discomfort. Over time, your digestive system can adapt to reap the potential benefits of yacon syrup with fewer unpleasant effects.

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