Xylitol is a natural insulin stabilizer that is categorized as a sugar alcohol (or polyalcohol).
Sugar alcohols are like hybrids of a sugar molecule and alcohol molecule. Their structure gives them the ability to stimulate the sweet taste receptors on the tongue.It doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar and actually helps reduce sugar and carbohydrate cravings. There is a growing consensus among anti-aging research that maintaininglow insulin levels is one of the keys to a successful anti-aging program.
Xylitol is naturally occurring in many of the fruits and vegetables we eat on a daily basis. Once extracted and processed it yields a white, crystalline granule that can be used in any recipe that calls for sugar. It’s good for your teeth, stabilizes insulin and hormone levels, promotes good health and has none of the negative side effects of white sugar or artificial sweeteners. It contains only 2.4 calories per gram and is slowly absorbed as a complex carbohydrate. Xylitol looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, and is the same sweetness as sugar – making it the ideal natural sugar replacement.
Many dentists recommend using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum… for good reason.
This is because numerous studies show that xylitol has powerful benefits for dental health and prevention of tooth decay .
One of the leading risk factors for tooth decay is a type of oral bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. This is the bacteria mostly responsible for plaque.
Although having some plaque on the teeth is normal, when it goes out of hand the immune system starts attacking the bacteria in it. This can lead to inflammatory gum diseases like gingivitis.
Well… these oral bacteria feed on glucose from food, but they can not use xylitol. Replacing sugar with xylitol therefore reduces the available fuel for the harmful bacteria .
But the effects of xylitol go beyond that… even though the bad bacteria can not use xylitol for fuel, they still ingest it.
When the bacteria are full of xylitol, they are unable to take up glucose, so essentially their energy producing pathway is “clogged” and they end up dying.
In other words, when you chew gum with xylitol (or use it as a sweetener), the sugar metabolism in the bacteria is blocked and they literally starve to death .
In one study, using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum reduced levels of the bad bacteria by 27-75%, while it had no effect on the friendly bacteria.
Xylitol also has other dental benefits :
Increases absorption of calcium in the digestive system, which is good for your teeth and may also protect against osteoporosis .
Increases production of saliva. Saliva contains calcium and phosphate, which get picked up by the teeth and aid in remineralization.
Reduces the acidity of saliva, which helps to fight acid-driven degradation of tooth enamel.
Numerous studies show that xylitol, either by replacing sugar or adding it on top of the diet, can reduce cavities and tooth decay by as much as 30-85%
Because inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases, it makes sense that reducing plaque and gum inflammation could have benefits for the rest of your body as well.