Xylitol: A Sugar Alternative No-BrainerSugar is rotting more than your teeth. Itís true. A tablespoon here, a few packets there. A cube or two with your afternoon tea. It adds up faster than you might imagine. And while satisfying the old sweet tooth is a pleasure that weíre all guilty of, itís important to understand that consuming excessive amounts of sugars can do significant damage to more than just your smile.
Unfortunately, the problem doesnít stop at table sugar. In fact, the most detrimental sugars are often hidden in popular processed foods and beverages. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a perfect example. Made popular in the 1970ís, HCFS is commonly used in soda, jelly, candy, sauces, condiments, beer, cookies, breakfast cereals and many more. After a chemically-intense extraction and treatment process, all that remains is an extremely sweet, nutritionally depleted chemical thatís inexpensive to manufacture with an extremely high glycemic rating. Within the body, high glycemic sweeteners are among the most unfavorable, as they can reduce insulin sensitivity and encourage the body to store greater amounts of fat.
Thanks in part the mainstream media, the public has been made well aware of the influence sugar can have on tooth decay and weight gain. Still, diets high in sugar can lead to a number of health ailments that only seem to generate the attention they deserve after its too late.
In no particular order, excess sugar mayÖ
Cause headaches and migraines
Decrease Vitamin E reserves
Decrease the quality of vision
Lower immune system response
Cause hyperactivity in children
Encourage LDL (bad) cholesterol
Limit learning capacity
Increase the symptoms of depression
Prevent bowel movements
Reduce sensitivity to insulin
Damage human DNA structure
Hinder the absorption of calcium/magnesium
Prevent the release of growth hormone
Lead to the formation of kidney stones
Cause allergic reactions to certain foods
Produce excess digestive tract acidity
Alter the structure of protein
Interfere with normal homeostasis
Restrict enzymatic activity
Increase fat content in the liver
Increase fluid retention
Lead to copper deficiency
Promote sluggish digestion
Debilitate adrenal gland function
Scary, isnít it? Whatís even more frightening is that most Americans have been left in the dark with regard to the damage that can be caused by regularly consuming excessive amounts of sugar. Donít panic. Nature has blessed us with a host of natural sweeteners that can serve as much healthier alternatives. One of the most exciting of the bunch is Xylitol, an all-natural sugar alcohol that was initially discovered in the 1800ís. Only now, however, is it getting its due recognition. Letís investigate.
If the name sounds familiar, it should. Xylitol has been the subject of intense study for close to 30 years, and the findings continue to prove that Xylitol is the real deal when it comes to sugar substitutes. For starters, Xylitol looks, and has the same texture as sugar. Side by side, it would be practically impossible to distinguish one from the other. With regards to taste, itís sweet, but not nearly as overpowering as the sugar weíve grown accustomed to. Finally, it mixes instantly and has become a favorite in kitchens for baking and dessert preparation. Yet despite how similar this crystalline compound is to conventional sugar, it also possesses a number of interesting advantages.
One of the most notable is in its caloric value. Xylitol has approximately 40% fewer calories than regular table sugar. This is due to the slower pace at which Xylitol is absorbed and partially utilized. At 2.4 calories per gram vs. 4 calories per gram in conventional sugar, itís easy to see why Xylitol has created such a stir among calorie counters. But thatís just the beginning. What makes Xylitol genuinely unique lies in the long list of health benefits that have been demonstrated in numerous studies.
Unlike table sugar and HCFS, Xylitol does not promote cavities. Studies have shown that when consumed in chewing gums, tooth pastes, oral rinses, mints and hard candies, Xylitol is a smart choice for individuals concerned with dental health. Moreover, Xylitol has received official endorsements from 6 International Dental Associations.
Another advantage of this natural, low calorie sugar alcohol is that the body does not metabolize Xylitol in quite the same manner that it metabolizes sugar. Instead, Xylitol is absorbed at a much slower rate, and as a result, does not cause blood sugar and insulin levels to spike in the fashion that conventional sugar does. Typically, the gylcemic index of sugar tops out near 100, while Xylitol is closer to 7.
Our mouths, middle ear and upper respiratory systems are prone to a number of harmful infection-causing bacteria. One of the major problems with conventional sugar is that it can help these bacteria grow. Xylitol, on the other hand, can not be utilized by these bacteria. And unlike many commercially marketed artificial sweeteners, Xylitol is a completely natural substance that the body produces everyday. This deems it a completely safe alternative to conventional sugar for people of every age.
Health Disclaimer. Content provided by NOW Foods. Copyright ©2006-2013. Published with permission. Written by Jayson Kroner, co-author of "7-Syndrome Healing". Jayson Kroner is not affiliated with avivahealth.com.