With more and more people getting health conscious these days, artificial sweeteners and syrups have been replacing the old plain sugar at a fast pace. Though, unfortunately, most of these widely accepted and highly used sugar alternatives are found to be bad for our health, one unique product is a clear winner. We are talking about ‘xylitol’. It is not only the safest natural sweetener you can ever have, but it also has many great health benefits. (1)
What Is Xylitol?
Xylitol, the carbohydrate that looks, tastes, and behaves like ordinary table sugar, is primarily an all-natural, alcohol-based sugar replacement with a chemical structure that partially resembles sugar and alcohol. It is extracted from the bark of fibrous plants, including birch trees, and processed into a white crystalline granular substance. Xylitol has 40% fewer calories (2.4 calories/gram) and 70% fewer carbohydrates than plain sugar. Hence, it has been approved by several authorities for use in pharmaceutical products, oral health products (toothpaste, mints, chewing gums, etc.), and various food products (sweets, beverages, baked items, tabletop sweeteners, etc.). While xylitol naturally occurs in many fruits and veggies, it is also generated within our body as an intermediate product during the metabolism of carbohydrates (mainly glucose). An average adult body can produce up to 15 grams of xylitol daily, which is then absorbed into the cells as a complex carbohydrate.
Why Choose Xylitol Over Sugar?
As a chemical compound that is hard to digest, absorb, and utilize for our body and has a range of adverse effects on our health, sugar should be considered a ‘white poison.’ No matter which form of sugar you consume, it will cause you addiction to some extent and eventually lead to several moderate to severe diseases, including hypoglycemia, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, increased levels of triglycerides, increased harmful cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disorders, systemic infections, periodontal disease, tooth decay, cavity, tooth loss, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, disruptive behavior, learning disorders, autoimmune disorders, immune deficiency disorders, hormonal disorders, cancer, and many more.
Xylitol is the ideal natural sugar replacement that can eliminate sugar cravings by satisfying our sweet tooth perfectly and offering various health benefits. Unlike sugar, it heals our body and repairs our health by strengthening immunity, shielding against chronic degenerative diseases, and fighting against premature aging. Being a 5-carbon sugar, it holds excellent antimicrobial properties that prevent unwanted bacterial growth in our body. Studies have found that after consuming xylitol, (1/3) of it is absorbed by our liver. At the same time, (2/3) of it is transformed into short-chain fatty acids inside our intestinal tract by gut bacteria. However, the best thing about xylitol is that it has no significant toxic effects.
Health Benefits Of Xylitol
As mentioned in the earlier section, xylitol comes with a vast number of health benefits, and we’ve listed them down for you:
- Very few natural products can take care of our oral health and xylitol. Being a non-fermentable compound, it can balance the acidic pH levels in our mouth, which is required for neutralizing the oral bacteria and averting the breakdown of tooth enamel caused by them. Besides destroying cavity-forming bacteria build-ups, buffering acidic byproducts, and promoting an alkaline environment, xylitol also assists in remineralizing the tooth.
- Xylitol can stabilize the insulin level in our body naturally, thereby preventing spikes in blood glucose levels. Another reason behind it is its low glycemic index or GI (only 7), which delays the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose in our body. These help us in keeping our sugar as well as carbohydrate cravings under control.
- Unlike regular sugar and other artificial sweeteners available in the market, xylitol is safe for people with diabetes. After consumption, a considerable amount of the sweetener passes through our body before the absorption of carbohydrates. It is effective in balancing and regulating the sugar levels in the bloodstream.
- Xylitol has terrific anti-aging effects on our skin, crucial in keeping various signs of aging at bay. Studies have revealed that the sweetener’s insulin-stabilizing capacity eventually gives us youthful and glowing skin.
- The antimicrobial qualities of xylitol help us steer clear of a certain bacteria called S. pneumoniae, which is responsible for ear and upper respiratory tract infections in our body.
- Like remineralizing our tooth enamel, xylitol also helps remineralize our damaged bone tissue. It can significantly boost bone density and keep diseases like osteoporosis away.
Switching to xylitol from table sugar or other so-called ‘healthy’ sweeteners can promote our overall health with mild to zero adverse effects on our bodies. However, ensure you are not consuming xylitol processed from corn husks as those might be GMO or genetically modified products and, hence, can cause harm to you.