While more research is needed on how monk fruit impacts people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), many are wondering if the two are compatible. The short answer is technically yes, but unfortunately since not all commercially available monk fruit products are the same, that isn’t always the case! In this article I’ll share everything you need to know about monk fruit and IBS, so you can read between the lines and make more informed choices for your gut’s sake.
Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only. This is not medical nutrition advice! Make sure to consult your doctor and registered dietitian if you’re navigating IBS.
Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links*. As an Amazon Associate, I will make a commission for qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you!
What is monk fruit?
Monk fruit (Luo Han Guo) is a natural, non-sugar (“non-nutritive”) sweetener which has become increasingly popular alongside stevia. Monk fruit comes from the extract of a dried fruit called Siraitia grosvenorii, which grows natively in China.
Monk fruit extract is especially appealing for people who are following a ketogenic diet and/or managing their blood sugar, and/or trying to about 250 times sweeter than table sugar (1), without providing any calories.
Another thing that makes monk fruit more appealing compared to most other non-nutritive sweeteners is that it’s natural and it has been used in China for hundreds of years. (Most other non-nutritive sweeteners are artificial, made in a lab, and lacking in long-term research on how they impact our health.)
But how do we know if monk fruit is safe for people with IBS, without any formal studies?
There are a few ways we can speculate…
IBS and FODMAPs
People with IBS generally do best with sweeteners that are lower in FODMAPs – aka fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols which are poorly broken down and not well absorbed in the intestines, leading to an influx of methane production and/or an influx of water into the intestines, causing horrible IBS symptoms. (2)
While a low FODMAP diet isn’t the solution to IBS, it certainly doesn’t hurt when a food (or sweetener, in this case) gets a low FODMAP stamp of approval!
Is monk fruit low FODMAP?
While monk fruit extract as a stand-alone ingredient is technically considered to be “untested” from a FODMAP standpoint, it is likely low in FODMAPs.
- Anecdotally, foods that are sweetened with 100% monk fruit extract have passed the low FODMAP test according to my clients’ apps, so it makes sense that monk fruit would also be low FODMAP.
- Also, 100% monk fruit extract is very well-tolerated by my clients with IBS, so this doesn’t surprise me!
Monk fruit and erythritol
This is where the lines can get a little more blurred. You see, I’ve noticed (as a self-proclaimed ninja label-reader) that a LOT of monk fruit sweeteners and “monk fruit sweetened” products on the market are actually secretly cut with erythritol. (Nutrition labels can be deceiving!)
Erythritol is a type of non-nutritive sweetener (and a polyol, or sugar alcohol) which is technically considered low FODMAP, according to Monash University, because it doesn’t seem to ferment in the gut like other sugar alcohols. (3, 4) Still, there’s no direct formal clinical research currently on erythritol and IBS, so my insights are based on first-hand clinical experience.
Erythritol and IBS
In my functional nutrition clinic, I’ve observed anecdotally that even my clients without IBS who have tried erythritol-sweetened foods ended up experiencing some degree of upset stomach.
- For this reason, I generally discourage my clients to avoid erythritol if they’re prone to IBS.
Avoid monk fruit products laced with erythritol
Long story short: beware of monk fruit sweeteners and monk fruit sweetened products that also contain erythritol!
- Disclaimer: some people with IBS can probably tolerate erythritol just fine, since everyone is different. Listen to your body first and foremost; this is just general information.
To verify that your sweetener is 100% monk fruit, all you’ll need to do is read the fine print on the ingredient list of the nutrition label to make sure that monk fruit extract (also often listed as “Luo Han Guo”) is the only sweetener listed.
Erythritol-free monk fruit products for IBS
While label reading is very useful, it’s also pretty tedious and time-consuming! For this reason, I took it upon myself to make a list of erythritol-free, filler-free, IBS-friendly monk fruit extracts which you can check out below.
100% monk fruit extract products
Monk fruit extract powders can be used in baking: 1/8 cup of 100% monk fruit extract powder to replace 1 cup of granulated table sugar.
They can also be used to sweeten coffee or tea in small amounts: 1/8 teaspoon of 100% monk fruit extract powder to replace 1 teaspoon of table sugar.
- It’s Just – 100% Monkfruit Extract Powder*
- Purisure Organic Monk Fruit Powder*
- TEAki Hut Organic Monk Fruit Extract Powder*
- NOW Foods, Certified Organic Monk Fruit Extract Powder*
- WHYZ Organic Monk Fruit Extract*
- NatriSweet Organic Monk Fruit Extract*
Monk fruit drops are great for adding a touch of sweetness to your cup of coffee or tea, without the blood sugar rollercoaster! One drop goes a long way.
- Smart138 Monk Drops – 100% Monkfruit Liquid Sweetener*
- NOW Foods, Certified Organic Monk Fruit Liquid*
If you found this article helpful and you’d like to learn more about sweeteners and IBS, make sure to check out the following articles:
- Spilling the Tea on Splenda (Sucralose) and IBS
- Are Stevia and IBS Compatible?
- What’s the Best Sweetener for IBS? (2023)
- Honey for IBS: The Pros & Cons
The bottom line
While research is lacking, monk fruit extract is speculated to be a low FODMAP sweetener which is inherently safe for people with IBS to consume in moderation, if you’re consuming 100% monk fruit extract.
Unfortunately, not all monk fruit on the market is friendly for people with IBS because most products are cut with erythritol, a sugar alcohol which anecdotally tends to trigger or exacerbate IBS symptoms among most people.
If you’d like to find an IBS-friendly version of a monk fruit extract or product sweetened with monk fruit, make sure it doesn’t contain any erythritol or other hidden ingredients (like fillers) which could be an issue.
Thank you so much for reading this article! I hope you found what you were looking for. Please feel free to share this article with someone you know who has IBS and is looking to learn more!
XO – Jenna