I want to sing the praises of Xylitol as a weapon against weight-gain. Stick this arrow in your weight-loss quiver because xylitol is AWESOME. It will most definitely help you reduce calories if you are a sugar fiend.
What is it? Xylitol was discovered late in the 1890’s. In the 1930’s xylitol was synthesized into a pure form. It was used as a sugar replacement during World War II in some countries when sugar shortages occurred. Today xylitol is added to a number of products including chewing gum, mouthwash, floride treatments, toothpaste, and in some pharmaceuticals. But we can purchase it as a sugar substitute in health food stores and bulk food stores.
Xylitol is a “polyol,”or sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol, but have a chemical structure that has similarities of both sugar and alcohol. Other sugar alcohols include maltitol, erythritol, mannitol, and sorbitol, amongst others.
Fibers of fruits and vegetables naturally contain xylitol. It can be extracted from various berries, oats, mushrooms, corn husks, sugar cane, and birch trees. It is a fermented sweetener made from whole plant pulp, but must undergo an extensive treatment and processing to become the sugar like crystals you find sitting on the shelf at health food stores and bulk food stores. Some would say it is a ‘natural’ substitute for sugar.
Benefits of Xylitol
There are well-established benefits to sugar-like xylitol.
Since the 1970’s there have been many peer reviewed journals indicating the dental benefits associated with xylitol. Xylitol not only prevents bacterial growth, but also helps to remineralize teeth that already have begun to decay.
For this reason, scientists speculate that xylitol may help to prevent and treat osteoporosis. Studies on rats have shown this. Human studies need to be done to settle this for sure.
Xylitol’s proven anti-bacterial properties show it to be effective for ear infections in some studies.
Yeast & Bacteria in the Gut
Xylitol is a probiotic because it encourages good gut flora (helpful microorganisms that live in your digestive tract). Sugar does the opposite and actually encourages the growth of unhealthy bacteria and yeast in the gut. So candida sufferers, take note: xylitol may be a much better option than splenda and aspartame which do encourage the growth of yeast in the gut.
Blood Glucose & Insulin
One of my main reasons for loving xylitol is because I have diabetes. Xylitol is absorbed more slowly than sugar, and because it is not completely broken down in our system it does not cause a rapid spike in blood glucose. It has little effect on glucose and none on insulin. Take if from a guy with diabetes, sugar is the devil for diabetics. And the evil stuff makes you fat.
Some scientists have indicated that xylitol increases WBC (specifically netrophil’s). These are cells that help us fight off infection.
I love the stuff. It tastes more like actual sugar than any other substitute in my humble opinion. But try it out for yourself. I have just one caveat for you about Xylitol. Some people take a few hours or a day to get used to it. It can cause loose bowel movements in some people, but only for a few hours to a day. I had it happen to me but, again, only for a few hours. I take it in everything now. I especially love using it in coffee, tea, and pure cocoa. The last makes me very happy since cocoa is an amazing source of phyto-nutrients. And if you love making your own desserts, well you will be singing it’s praises too.
Give it a try. You might want to ask a health professional if it’s a good option for you … if you are concerned. Xylitol, the amazing substitute you may not have heard of, is worth looking into.