All of this talk about clean noses, healthy mouths, and sugar alternatives have you wondering, “what exactly is xylitol?”
Let us shed some light on this incredible ingredient for you. We’ve included a comprehensive look at xylitol below. For more detailed information, feel free to check out our Xylitol Articles.
What is xylitol?
Many people ask, “What is xylitol?” To put it simply, xylitol is a natural sweetener with many other health benefits. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that has a crystalline, granular structure with a sweetness comparable to sugar. It naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables and is produced by the human body. The word xylitol comes from the Greek roots xylo- which means “wood” and “–itol” signifying sugar alcohols.
What is xylitol sourced from?
Xylitol is generally sourced from corncobs or birch trees. Many people prefer xylitol from corn because it is more sustainable in terms of the space it takes to grow and the time until harvest. This makes it more cost-effective to produce and environmentally friendly. There is no need to source from birch trees as the corn is already grown for food, and what was once thought of as waste, the cob, can now be useful.
What is xylitol’s history?
Around 1890, Fisher and Stahe in Germany and Betrand in France isolated the 5-carbon sugar, xylitol. During World War II Scandinavian countries experienced a shortage of sugar, leading to the first widespread use of xylitol. After the war, dental professionals in this area started noticing an improvement in their patient’s oral health. In the 1960’s scientists linked this improvement to the use of xylitol and healthcare professionals began wondering, “what is xylitol’s effect on the human body”? For the next 30 years this natural sweetener continued to gain popularity around the world. In the 1990’s scientists began taking notice of xylitol’s effect on upper respiratory health. Now the profound benefits of xylitol are supported by thousands of clinical studies performed around the world.
What is xylitol’s benefit?
Xylitol was originally used as a natural alternative to sugar with its 1:1 sweetness ratio. It has virtually no effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. It also has 40% fewer calories than sugar. Xylitol also moistens and soothes skin by pulling water to the skin surfaces. One of the greatest benefits of xylitol is how it interacts with bacteria. This is two-fold. Firstly, xylitol is non-fermentable, meaning bacteria can’t use it in their metabolic processes. This results in bacteria not being able to thrive or produce their byproduct, harmful acids. Secondly, xylitol has an anti-adhesive quality. This unique characteristic prohibits bacteria from adhering to cell tissue. Because bacteria must adhere to the tissue in order to flourish, xylitol is able to reduce their effect without using harmful chemicals or drugs.
What is xylitol used for?
Because of these unique benefits, xylitol can be used in various ways. People battling diabetes have used xylitol as a sugar-free sweetener. Because it moisturizes and soothes, it is used to help with dry nasal and sinus passageways. The moisturizing process, pulling water to the cell surface, also helps rid the body of allergens and other pollutants commonly inhaled. This results in reduced symptoms from the allergens or pollutants. Similarly, when xylitol is used in a saline nasal spray, it can work against the bacteria you breathe in, resulting in a cleaner, healthier upper respiratory system. The most well-documented, researched use of xylitol is in oral health. Because of xylitol’s ability to inhibit bacteria’s adherence, it helps promote oral health and to initiate the remineralization process.
What is xylitol’s suggested use?
Professionals suggest having at least five exposures of xylitol a day for its dental benefits—in the morning and at nightly brushes, and after every meal and snack. Professionals say that 6-10 grams is a good amount to have each day. Also, cleaning your nasal passages is just as important as cleaning your hands. You should clean your nose periodically throughout the day. A good reminder is to use a nasal rinse or nasal spray with xylitol each time you wash your hands.
Depending on your digestive system, eating xylitol can have a laxative effect. This is purely based on a person’s particular body and how much xylitol it is able to process. However, it is good to know that our bodies naturally produce xylitol. With a normal metabolism it will produce up to fifteen grams of xylitol each day. This indicates that generally the body understands what to do with xylitol.
The benefits of xylitol for humans are profound, but xylitol is not safe for pets—especially dogs. Just like other food only meant for human consumption, like chocolate, never let your dog and other pets eat anything containing xylitol. We love dogs as much as you do. So please, keep your xylitol away from Fido!
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