12 Health Benefits of Xylitol
You might have seen packets of xylitol in grocery stores, being marketed as a sweetener and sugar substitute. You might also have seen it as an ingredient for anything from chewing gum to cookies. Xylitol is fast becoming popular as a sweetening agent: it is sourced from plants, is not easily converted by the body into fat, and has been shown to have several health benefits as well.
If you’re interested in adding xylitol to your diet, you can take a look at these health benefits to guide you in making your decision.
Health Benefits of Xylitol
1. Xylitol is safe for diabetics – Unlike its less healthy counterpart, table sugar, xylitol does not impinge on the levels of insulin in the body because the body does not easily convert it into fat. Thus, diabetics can still sweeten their food with xylitol without worrying about their insulin levels.
2. Xylitol is safe for pregnant or nursing moms – An excess of sugar can be dangerous for pregnant mothers. But what happens when you need to satisfy a craving for sweets? Xylitol can be used as a substitute when sugar isn’t safe to use.
3. Xylitol can help in keeping you fit – Because xylitol does not easily convert into fat in the body, dieters and even body builders can use it to sweeten their food. Sugar cravings can be especially high after a workout, and you might gain more weight if you starve yourself of sugar. If you are trying to keep fit, you can give in to the craving by using xylitol.
4. Xylitol can help prevent cavities – Sugar is easily fermented, or broken down by bacteria to produce acids and alcohols. However, xylitol is not fermentable, so bacteria don’t easily break it down into by products that can damage your body. For instance, the breakdown of sugar in the mouth leads to an overproduction of oral acids that can lead to cavities. Xylitol actually helps balance mouth pH, which helps keep cavities at bay.
5. Xylitol can help prevent ear infections – Did you know that xylitol is being used as a drug, too? Xylitol is an ingredient in some medications that keep bacteria from growing in the ear. These bacteria can cause ear infections. Xylitol medications also keep your ears healthy by clearing out earwax.
6. Xylitol can slow the growth of yeasts – Because xylitol isn’t broken down into acids, and because this special sugar substitute doesn’t alter the pH of its surroundings, it can actually keep harmful bacteria and yeasts from going. Yeasts such as Candida albicans (which cause yeast infections) and bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori (which cause ulcers) thrive on acid, but xylitol keeps them from growing.
7. Xylitol can help improve bone density – A recent study from Finnish researchers shows that rats had increased bone density after being fed xylitol. Although this is still in its initial stage, such research shows that xylitol might be a promising osteoporosis treatment for humans. In the meantime, though, keep drinking your calcium.
8. Xylitol can help strengthen your teeth – Not only does xylitol keep the acid levels low, it also promotes salivation in your mouth, preventing your mouth from going dry. Dry mouth keeps your teeth from absorbing minerals that would otherwise help your teeth regenerate enamel. With more moisture in your mouth from xylitol, your teeth can be stronger.
9. Xylitol can help jumpstart your immune system – When taken in small amounts, xylitol can increase the production and activity of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells help you fight infections, so xylitol can give you a good jumpstart to prepare your immune system for any attack.
10. Xylitol might have some anti-aging benefits – Because xylitol can help your body absorb nutrients, build bone density, and build your immune system, it can also have anti-aging benefits. With more nutrients and with greater strength, your cells can regenerate faster and you can recover faster from sicknesses that would otherwise suck the life out of you.
11. Xylitol can help prevent allergies and sinus infections – Xylitol is also used in nasal sprays. It has been found to treat asthma, allergies, and sinus infections because it helps keep opportunistic bacteria out of the delicate mucosal linings of the nasal cavity.
12. Xylitol can help the female reproductive system – Studies show that xylitol can help lower risks of developing ovarian cysts, fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, and endometriosis. The mechanism for xylitol working this way is still unknown.
These are just a few benefits that you can gain from xylitol. You can use xylitol as a sugar substitute when you make coffee or tea, or when you need to sweeten baked goods. However, because yeasts cannot break down xylitol into acids and alcohols, you will not be able to use xylitol to bake bread or other baked goods that need leavening or rising.
Xylitol is just one of the products in the market that are a safe substitute for sugar. When used sparingly, you’ll find that this miracle of nature can do miracles for your health, too.