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The Facts

What is xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural substance found in fibrous vegetables and fruit, as well as in corn cobs and various hardwood trees like birch. It is a natural, intermediate product which regularly occurs in the glucose metabolism of humans and animals, as well as in the metabolism of several plants and micro-organisms.

Some history

It was first produced in 1891 and then rediscovered by Finnish scientists after the World War II when an acute sugar shortage meant they started searching for alternatives.  By the 1960s, xylitol was being used in Germany, Switzerland, the Soviet Union, and Japan as a preferred sweetener in diabetic diets and as an energy source for infusion therapy in patients with impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance.

Until very recently, Xylitol was relatively unknown in Australia, primarily because cheap supplies of cane sugar have made the more expensive xylitol less economically viable.  Researchers have also discovered xylitol's remarkable capabilities of being insulin independent and it's anti-bacterial properties. 

WHY WE SHOULD RID OUR BODIES OF SUGAR

Sugar increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.
A retrospective, worldwide study found small increases in sugar can lead to significant increases in type 2 diabetes rates.  Another study of more than 300,000 people found that consuming just one to two serves of soft drink a day would increase type 2 diabetes risk by 26 per cent.

Sugar increases your risk of heart disease.
The same study found an increased risk of cardiovascular disease by 35 per cent. “Limiting intake [of sugar-sweetened beverages] is one simple change that will have a measurable impact on weight control and prevention of cardio-metabolic diseases,” concluded the study’s lead author, Frank Hu, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard.

Sugar increases your risk of stroke.
A 60,000-strong study concluded that people who drank one to two sugar-sweetened beverages were 22 per cent more likely to experience a stroke.  Fructose increases your risk of metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of at least three of five of the following: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and low “good cholesterol” levels. It’s also highly associated with developing cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.

Sugar ages the body and causes wrinkles.
Sugar reacts with amino acid proteins in the body, causing premature ageing.
A study of more than 5,000 people found that sugar consumption is also linked to shorter telomeres. Telomeres protect DNA from deterioration, and shorter telomeres are associated with ageing and mortality.

Sugar increases your risk of cancer.
A systematic review conducted by the Department of Medicine, University of Maryland shows consumption of sugar may compromise the body’s natural antioxidant defence mechanisms, thereby increasing the risk of cancer.  A massive analysis of nearly a million patients found 50 per cent diagnosed with pancreatic cancer had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes the previous year. Emerging studies have also linked fructose to breast, gallbladder, bile duct and small intestinal cancers as well as increased chance of metastasis (cancer spreading to other areas of the body).

Sugar makes you fat.
A meta-analysis study published in the British Medical Journal shows increased sugar intake is significantly associated with weight gain.

The simple swap

Here are the reasons why Xylitol is the friendly and healthy sugar swap we have been longing for.

  • Has a Glycaemic Index of 7 (an extremely low rating compared to sugar’s rating of 65), making you feel fuller for longer, have longer lasting energy and less likely to crave sweet foods.

  • Does not need insulin to be metabolized by the body, so it will not cause blood sugar swings.

  • Has less carbohydrates than sugar, so it’s the ideal solution as part of a balanced weight loss diet.

  • In the mouth, it restores the natural pH balance that helps to keep your tooth enamel and gums healthy. In fact by aiding calcium absorption, xylitol helps to build stronger bones and teeth.

  • Promotes the growth of friendly bacteria, leaving your digestion healthier and better able to absorb nutrients.

With its very low GI of 7 Xylitol is also great for those with type 2 diabetes, as it has a minor effect on blood sugar (glucose) levels. The xylitol helps stabilise blood sugar and insulin levels and it also promotes good intestinal flora and healthy teeth and gums.