Can a sweetener be good for you? Can candy and gum prevent decay?
Xylitol may just be the sweet and delicious product that we have been looking for that prevents decay, adds fewer calories to our diets, and may improve our overall health. Produced naturally, xylitol is a five-carbon sugar alcohol derived primarily from birch and other hardwood trees. It is also found in some plums, strawberries, raspberries and even fungi. Xylitol is also produced in the human liver explaining why it is safe for humans to consume.
In crystalline form like SimplyXylitol™ sprinkling sugar, xylitol can be used on cereals, fruit or anything you may sprinkle sugar on. It contains approximately 40 percent of the calories in table sugar. Xylitol is not safe for your pets though so DO NOT give it to your dog or cat! Xylitol is a natural sweetener that enhances the flavor of food, especially fruit, and it is safe for patients of all ages. By decreasing our consumption of ‘regular’ sugar we consume less calories, stops the cavity-causing bacteria from growing, and significantly reduce the risk of cavity formation.
Xylitol is just one of many artificial sweeteners. Many were discovered accidently in the process of studying something different like Cyclamate (sucaryl) and Aspartame (Equalâ, NutraSweetâ). Other natural sweeteners like honey and Agave nectar do not have the anticaries benefit of xylitol. There are the “S” sweeteners like Stevia, Saccharin and Sucralose (Splenda) to further complicate our sweetening choices.
A safe alternative would be to limit sugar and sugar substitutes in all forms and of course, consume more fruit and vegetables!
Unlike xylitol, eating table sugar creates an acidic, decay promoting pH. Bacteria do not readily metabolize xylitol, but xylitol will accumulate in the bacterial cells and inhibit their growth reducing the risk of cavity formation. Xylitol was discovered in the late 1800s. During World War II, sugar shortages created a need for alternative sweeteners and xylitol was manufactured in crystalline form. Diabetics benefit from xylitol due to its insulin-independent characteristics. Xylitol chewing gum was produced in Finland in 1974. Xylitol may be used in beverages, candy, chewing gum, and other non-baked deserts (xylitol does not caramelize when heated so it cannot be used in baking).
Happy, healthy eating to you,