What is it?
A sugar substitute that looks and tastes like sugar - but won't spike your blood sugar levels - Xylitol has been increasing in popularity in recent years as we become more aware of the host of problems associated with added sugars in our diets.
An all-natural, FDA approved sweetener with 40% fewer calories than sugar, xylitol is an emerging preferred sugar substitute for good reason. Not only does it look and taste like regular white sugar, but it also offers a range of great health benefits.
Xylitol is created through processing a plant fiber called xylan into xylitol, sourced from a number of fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, birch, oats, berries, corn husks, and sugar cane.
Whereas sugar has a glycemic index of approximately 100, xylitol has a glycemic index range of a mere 7-13 - making it an excellent sugar substitute for diabetics as well as those seeking alternatives to conventional white sugar for improved health. It's also an excellent addition to dental care, helping to fight bacteria responsible for plaque and gingivitis, for starters.
Health and Dental Benefits
Xylitol features numerous benefits for both your oral health as well as your overall health.
Did you know that bacteria in your mouth feeds on glucose? Increased bacterial presence in your mouth leads to an increase in the presence of plaque, resulting in a higher risk of gingivitis and other disease development.
What enables xylitol to neutralize oral bacteria is the alkaline properties it possesses. Bacteria in the mouth die off when acidity is reduced, and therefore the introduction of an alkalizing agent is an excellent practice for your oral care. For example, the oral bacterial strain known as Streptococcus mutans (responsible for plaque buildup) can be neutralized by xylitol.
Whereas oral bacteria is fed on glucose, when these bacteria feed on xylitol the sugar metabolism process is blocked and this fact is what leads the bacteria to die off.
Replacing sugar with xylitol as your sweetener of choice helps to effectively starve and kill off the bacteria which feeds on sugar, thereby reducing dental decay.
These are the top ways you'll benefit from using xylitol in place of sugar:
Incorporating xylitol into your oral hygiene routine couldn't be easier. Simply replace your current toothpaste, rinses, and chewing gum with products using xylitol as an additive and begin reaping the benefits immediately.
As well, you can purchase xylitol crystals from most health food stores and many grocery stores to begin substituting for regular white sugar in your baking and wherever you would normally add sugar to.
However, take care to introduce xylitol into your diet slowly to ensure that your body tolerates the transition from sugar to xylitol well. Digestive distress can occur in some people if there isn't a slow build-up process in place.
A Word of Warning
Xylitol has many excellent health benefits for humans, as you've now seen. But it's crucial that you protect your furry family members from ingesting xylitol as the digestive tracts of dogs does not recognize the difference in xyltol and sugar and upon ingesting xylitol, it will trigger massive insulin production in your dog because their body will mistakenly register a glucose ingestion.
This will lead to glucose absorption from the bloodstream, resulting in rapidly decreasing blood sugar levels and can ultimately be fatal.
Remember: xylitol is excellent for the health of humans, but not for their furry best friends.