Xylitol is naturally found in some fruits and vegetables. It is categorized as polyalcohol which is also sometimes referred to as sugar alcohol. It looks like sugar and also tastes like sugar. But is has fewer calories and it does not raise the sugar levels in the blood.
This property of xylitol makes it common ingredient sugar-free mints, chewing gums and sugar-free food product for diabetes and also oral care products. Although it does not contain any vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
Here are some health benefits of xylitol.
Xylitol has a low glycemic index. In other words, it does not contribute to the raise of blood sugar. It is therefore beneficial to patients who have diabetes. Studies conducted on rats indicate that it is beneficial to the metabolic process.
#2. Weight Loss
It is very low in calories. Whereas sugar has four calories per gram, it has only 2.4 calories per gram. Substituting xylitol for sugar as a sweetener can, therefore, help in reducing weight.
#3. Dental Health
It is highly beneficial for dental health and preventing tooth decay. There are some harmful bacteria which are primarily responsible for tooth decay and also a formation of plaque on teeth.
These bacteria feed on glucose from food. Substituting xylitol for sugar deprives these bacteria of fuel thus making the harmful bacteria ineffective and contributes to oral health.
#4. Skin Care
Studies have indicated that xylitol helps to increase the production of collagen. Collagen protein is present in large quantities in the connective tissues of the skin. Increased production of collagen will result in maintaining the skin young and healthy by countering the effects of aging on the skin.
#5. Bone Health
Studies on rats have indicated that rats fed on xylitol showed a significantly higher bone mineral density as compared to those who were fed xylitol free diet, and it has been concluded that the supplement leads to increased bone volume and bone mineral density. It may, therefore, offer protection from osteoporosis and keep the bones strong and healthy.
#6. Gut Function
Xylitol is known to kill bad bacterial in the mouth. Whereas it kills the bad bacteria in the mouth, it can feed the good bacteria or friendly bacteria in the gut acting like a soluble fiber. It has a prebiotic effect which helps the gut functions.
#7. Ear Infection
Since ear nose and mouth are interconnected, bacterial in the mouth can cause the ear infection. This appears to be a common problem among children. Xylitol can fight these bacteria like it fights the plaque forming bacteria in the mouth and prevent ear infection.
In a study conducted on children with recurring ear infection, it was found that using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum daily brought about a 40% reduction in the rate of infection. It also helps in reducing the ability of the yeast Candida albicans to stick to the surface and cause infection.
#8. Bad Breath
It has antibacterial qualities. It helps in fighting the bacteria and reduces the bacterial infections in the mouth which causes bad breath. Both doctors and dentists recommend xylitol-based chewing gums to get rid of bad breath.
#9. Sinus Health
The antibacterial properties of xylitol are particularly useful clearing up sinus infections. Using it as a sweetener in the Neti helps in speeding up the curing process and keeping the sinus clear.
#10. Immune System
The antibacterial and antiviral properties of xylitol help fight various infections and thus provide a boost to the immune system of the body. It is also known to beneficially affect the number of white blood cells in the body which help the body which enhances the infection-fighting ability of the body.
Switching from regular sugar to xylitol should be done gradually, allowing the body to get used to the change as otherwise, it is likely to cause some side effects.