Where does Xylitol come from?
Xylitol is one of the leading natural sweetener and is derived from plants such as corncobs, berries and birch trees. It provides your body with a safe source of energy that doesn’t have side effects, unless excessive amounts are consumed and then you may have a laxative effect from the Xylitol. However this ‘maybe’ is outweighed by Xylitol’s amazing beneficial properties. Xylitol tastes just as sweet as sugar but has fewer calories per gram than sugar. When you switch to Xylitol you give up the extra calories without giving up taste.
Xylitol is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally, which looks and tastes just like cane sugar. This sweetener is found, in low concentrations, in the fibres of many fruits and vegetables, and can be extracted from various berries, oats, birch trees and mushrooms. However, commercially, Xylitol is obtained from woody fibrous plant materials such as corncobs and hardwood trees such as birch, although primarily from corncobs as they are a more renewable and environmentally sustainable source of Xylitol compared to birch trees. The xylose fibre from the cobs is extracted and hydrogenated to produce Xylitol.
Did you know that Xylitol also occurs naturally in our bodies? In fact an average size adult manufactures up to 10-15 grams of xylitol daily during normal metabolism.
Why isn’t everyone using Xylitol?
As well as tasting 100% like sugar and having no aftertaste, Xylitol has 1.9 Kcal/g (calories per gram) and has a low GI of 7, where sugar (sucrose) has 3.87 Kcal/g and a GI of 80.
An average size adult actually manufactures 10-15 grams of xylitol daily during normal metabolism, so you know its natural and safe to use. It is well documented that sugar causes tooth decay.It is so safe that World Health Organisation has given Xylitol its safes rating for use in foods.
Since Xylitol has been proven to inhibit the growth of bacteria, it has so many health benefits that need to be advertised to all Australians.
Studies using xylitol as a substitute for sugar or even just a slight dietary supplement have shown a huge decrease in tooth decay. Xylitol is non-fermentable and therefore cannot be converted to acids by oral bacteria, thus it helps to restore a proper alkaline/acid balance in the mouth. This alkaline environment is inhospitable to all the destructive bacteria, especially the worst variety, Streptococcus mutans. It also inhibits plaque formation and allows the tooth enamel to absorb minerals that assist teeth in remineralisation and repair. Xylitol reverses the effects that sugar does on your teeth and the best news, this Xylitol effect is long lasting and possibly even permanent!
A who study group ( World Health Organisation . Diet , Nutrition and the prevention of Chronic Diseases. Geneva: WHO 1990) surmised that very little dental caries (cavities) occurs in children when the national per capita sugar consumption is below 10 kilograms per year (equating to approx 30 grams a day) but that a steep increase may occur from 15 kilograms upwards. These and many other studies have shown that it is also the frequency of eating sugar rather than the amount you eat at any one time that creates an environment for bacteria to thrive. However Xylitol has been proven to have a preventative effect with regard dental caries. This is because the Xylitol stops the bacteria from attaching to the tooth’s surface thus preventing plaque formation and in turn decay. Any consumed sugar adheres to the tooths enamel surface where bacteria feeds and multiply. The bacteria feed upon the sugar converting it to acid waste and causing tooth decay. Xylitol cannot be fermented by these bacteria, so as they are starved they die hence helping to prevent plaque and the resulting tooth decay.
Ears, Nose and Throat
Xylitol also inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause middle ear and sinus infections. (angelfire.com/az/sthurston/xylitol_natural_sweetener.html)
These infections occur when bacteria cling onto the cells in your nose and start to grow. With the presence of Xylitol, this binding process is interfered with, blocking the attachment of major infection-causing bacteria that live in the nose.
Xylitol has been shown to be effective in inhibiting Candida albicans, a serious systemic yeast problem, and other harmful gut bacteria including H. pylori, implicated in periodontal disease, bad breath, gastric and duodenal ulcers and even stomach cancer.
Language, a critical part of learning, is built by auditory input during the first two years of life–the same period when ear infections are most common. If this input is dampened by infection or fluid in the middle ear during this important period, it can cause learning problems. One researcher demonstrated that even when properly treated, recurrent middle ear infections during the first two years result in significant impairment in reading ability up to the age of nine.* Another study followed children longer and showed significant learning and social problems extending up to age eighteen.**
*Luotonen M, Uhari M, Aitola, L et al. Recurrent otitis media during infancy and linguistic skills at the age of nine years. Pediatr. Infect. J. 1996;15:854-8.
** Bennett KE, Haggard MP, Silva PA, Stewart IA. Behavior and development effects of otitis media with effusion into the teens. Arch. Dis. Child 2001 Aug;85(2):91-5
Dr Lon Jones, a physician in Plainsview, Texas, reported that the use of a xylitol nasal spray in his practice prevented 93 per cent of ear infections and resulted in comparable reductions in sinus infections, allergies and asthma.
Xylitol and Osteoporosis
Another exciting benefit from xylitol is its role in reversing bone loss. Studies in Finland found that xylitol maintained bone density in rats that had their ovaries removed. Without ovaries, oestrogen levels plummeted and so did the bone density in rats that were not given xylitol. However, in the rats that had ovaries removed and were given xylitol, bone density actually increased *. Another study showed that xylitol was effective in decreasing age-related bone loss in older male rats by 10 per cent.**
Finnish researches then made a bold recommendation for human application of their studies, and suggested that 40 grams a day of Xylitol will be an effective human dose. These scientists speculated that Xylitol’s bone density enhancing properties are due to its ability to promote intestinal absorption of calcium.
* Svanberg M, Mattila P, Knuttila M. Dietary xylitol retards the ovariectomy-induced increase of bone turnover in rats. Calcif. Tissue Int. 60:462-466. ** Mattila P, Svanberg, M, Knuttila, M. Increased bone volume and bone mineral content in xylitol-fed aged rats.
Please be aware that Xylitol is as toxic to pets as dark chocolate, so please do not share any Xylitol products with your pets.