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Xylitol Sugar: Benefits & Side-Effects

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Xylitol has been used in Europe since the 19th century, where it was first popularized in Europe as a safe sweetener for diabetes because it did not impact insulin levels. Xylitol is currently approved for use in foods, pharmaceuticals and oral health products in excess of 35 countries.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is also known as wood sugar or birch sugar. It is a naturally occurring 5-carbon sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and used as a sugar substitute. A further fact that demonstrates that xylitol is a 100% natural product is that it is a byproduct of the human metabolism, producing up to 15 grams of Xylitol per day. Unlike Stevia and other sweeteners, Xylitol has virtually no aftertaste and tastes just like normal sugar.

Xylitol is used in foods such as chewing gum and candy, as well as in pharmaceutical and oral health products such as throat lozenges, cough syrups, children’s chewable multivitamins, toothpastes and mouthwashes.

Xylitol Carbs & Calories

  • One teaspoon of Xylitol contains 10 calories (2.4 calories per gram), while one gram of sugar contains 15 calories (3.9 calories per gram). Thus Xylitol has 40% less calories than sugar.12
  • Xylitol contains 4 grams of carbs per teaspoon, but has fewer net effective carbs, as not all the xylitol can be digested and absorbed by the body. What this also means is that the carbs in xylitol do not raise blood sugar or insulin levels as much as regular table sugar. Xylitol is often found in foods labelled low-carb.345

Therefore, Xylitol is a good option whether you’re just watching your calories or on a low carb diet.

It can be added to a wide variety of foods and drinks, including coffee, tea, smoothies, cereals or snacks. Of course, Xylitol still contains calories, but less that normal sugar.

Xylitol Benefits Dental Health

  • Xylitol use REDUCES tooth decay.
  • Xylitol may arrest and even reverse of existing dental caries.
  • Xylitol may actively aid in repairing minor cavities caused by dental caries.
  • Xylitol has a plaque-reducing effect. It is thought to attract and then “starve” harmful microorganisms, allowing the mouth to remineralize damaged teeth with less interruption.
  • Xylitol provides additional protection that enhances all existing prevention methods.
  • The effect Xylitol has is long lasting and possibly permanent. Low decay rates persist even years after trials have been completed.

Xylitol & Diabetes

Xylitol was initially used for diabetics, advertised as “safe for diabetics and individuals with hyperglycemia”. The reason being that Xylitol has a significantly smaller effect on our blood sugar levels than regular sugars, because it is absorbed more slowly than sugar and does not require insulin to be metabolized.Xylitol has a Glycemic Index (GI) of 7. Sugar has a GI of 100. Thus, when Xylitol is consumed, the rise in blood glucose and the insulin response associated with the ingestion of glucose is significantly reduced. 

Several studies have suggested that a low GI diet can help in the prevention of type-2 diabetes, such that replacing sugar with Xylitol may reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. The low-glycemic effect of Xylitol metabolism makes Xylitol an ideal alternative for diabetics or for those carbohydrate management diets.

Xylitol Reduces Ear & Upper Respiratory Infections

  • Studies have shown that Xylitol chewing gum can help prevent ear infections.
  • Xylitol prevents the growth of bacteria, as it appears to interfere with the ability of many bacteria to adhere to our tissues.

Xylitol & Osteoporosis

Xylitol may play a future role as a treatment for osteoporosis, as research suggest that it may improves bone density and mineral content.

Xylitol & Candia

Recent research suggests that consumption of Xylitol may help control and inhibit oral infections of the Candida yeast; in contrast other sugars such as glucose, galactose and sucrose are thought to increase proliferation.

Side-Effects of Xylitol

Xylitol was approved from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1963, and it has no known toxic levels or serious known side effects for humans. Xylitol, like most sugar alcohols, can have a mild laxative effect at high doses.

Xylitol may be dangerous to pets such as dogs if consumed.

Advantages of Xylitol

  • Unlike sugar, Xylitol does not require insulin to be metabolized.
  • Does not cause sudden increases in blood sugar levels.
  • Xylitol is as sweet as sugar
  • Xylitol has 40% less than other carbohydrates.
  • One teaspoon of Xylitol contains 9.6 calories and sugar 15 calories.
  • Xylitol does not contain carbohydrates unlike sugar.
  • Xylitol is 100% natural.

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