Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that looks and tastes just like sugar! It is found in many fruits and vegetables. Actually, our bodies naturally produce small amounts daily. The body does not process it like sugar, which leads to its many health benefits.
Xylitol has minimal impact on blood sugar, so it’s a great option for people with diabetes and hypoglycemia. When your insulin levels are stable you are much less likely to crave sweet foods, so it helps to put an end to sugar cravings and addictions.
Xylitol has 40% fewer calories and 75% fewer carbohydrates than table sugar! It also has beneficial effects on the metabolism, which is ideal for those of us who want to lose excess body fat. Woohoo, something sweet that doesn’t pack on the pounds! Xylitol helps to maintain a steady trickle of energy, keeping us satisfied longer and decreasing the urge to overeat. Unabsorbed xylitol acts like dietary fiber, helping to maintain healthy gut function, which so many have challenges with.
Its antifungal properties are due to the fact that yeast cannot metabolize xylitol, so it doesn’t feed the fungus– it kills it! Xylitol promotes upper respiratory health. Anyone suffer from chronic sinus infections? It actually destroys streptococci (a bacteria that causes strep throat, bacterial pneumonia and meningitis) in the mouth and in the intestines. Both xylitol nose spray and xylitol throat spray are staples in my alternative medicine cabinet! Xylitol is most widely known for improving oral health; reducing the risk of tooth decay, gum disease and helping to build enamel back up. It has been shown to reduce the incidence of tooth decay by up to 80%, now I’d say that’s pretty significant!
Xylitol is easy to replace in almost any recipe because it has the same sweetness of sugar. It has a 1-to-1 exchange ratio with sugar (1 cup of sugar = 1 cup of xylitol). Even though this is true, I always try to use half xylitol and half stevia in all my recipes. As with sugar you want to eat xylitol in moderation. Eating too much all at once when your body is not used to it can have a laxative effect -causing gas, bloating or stomach cramping. I like to view this as a benefit because it helps me to limit my intake of sweets, having just 1 or 2 cookies instead of 4 or 5, for example.
As I said before, the awesome thing with xylitol is that it reduces carbohydrate cravings and helps to curb binge eating, unlike sugar’s addicting effects that keeps me wanting more and more!
Most commercially produced xylitol come from corncobs and birch trees. Yes, I know I told you to stay away from corn at all costs, but the corncob is actually the only part of corn that is anti-fungal. So just make sure that the brand you buy is non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) and you’re good to go!
The trick with xylitol is to integrate it into your diet slowly and to realize that everything needs to be done in moderation…. and xylitol might not be right for everyone, so listen to your body. Yes, xylitol has some health benefits, however it’s NOT a health food. It is highly processed (as most sugars / sugar alternatives are), so don’t over do it!