Xylitol, or xylitol, is a crystalline sweetener that does not contain carbohydrates. It is sweeter than sugar, but with less calorie content. Almost does not form fat. It is safe for consumption at any age, and is also allowed for athletes and pregnant women.
The discovery of xylitol (chemical formula – С5Н12О5) occurred at the end of the 19 century almost simultaneously in two countries – in Germany and France. And since that time, people with diabetes have begun to actively consume a new sweet substance as a safe alternative to sweets. In its pure form, it is a white crystalline powder that is capable of dissolving in water, alcohols, acetic acid.
I must say that xylitol is the only one of all carbohydrates whose taste and appearance is identical to food sugar. But the substance was even more popular because it can be reproduced from almost any fibrous raw material of plant origin. Therefore, its other name is wood or birch sugar. Xylitol was first produced in Finland from birch bark.
Role in the body
Xylitol is one of the substances that the body is capable of producing independently. Thus, the body of a healthy adult is capable of producing approximately 15 g of xylitol daily.
Once in the body as part of various products, it plays the role of a mild choleretic and laxative. This effect becomes more noticeable when 50 g of the substance is consumed per day. By the way, in the role of a laxative, xylitol is often used in parallel with weight loss diets to improve and accelerate the result.
In addition, the substance has anti-infectious abilities, due to which it is used to treat diseases of the middle ear. It is interesting that by chewing gum containing xylitol, otitis media can be prevented.
Nasal preparations, which contain a substance with the formula С5Н12О5, protect against staphylococcal bacteria and are effective in treating asthma.
Xylitol is believed to be effective in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. The results of some researchers have shown that this substance is able to condense bone tissue and restore mineral balance.
But despite the beneficial effect of xylitol on the body, it is not one of the important substances. Moreover, scientists say that there are no signs of a deficiency in the sweetener. At least, numerous experiments have never yet confirmed that a person may experience discomfort through lost xylitol.
Xylitol: benefits and harms
Most often, xylitol is used as a dietary sugar for diabetics, which is absorbed without insulin and does not provoke hyperglycemia.
Regularly consuming foods with xylitol, you can not worry about the possible occurrence of serious consequences. Researchers say the maximum damage an overdose of this sweetener can do is diarrhea or flatulence. The scientific world learned about this in the 1963 year and still does not change its mind.
But for whom xylitol is really dangerous, these are dogs. Enough 500-1000 mg of substance per kilogram of weight, so that the animal received liver failure, convulsions and collapse.
Useful properties of xylitol:
- protects and remineralizes enamel on teeth;
- prevents tooth decay and plaque;
- reduces the number of streptococcal bacteria;
- serves as a prophylaxis against brittle bones and osteoporosis;
- chewing gum containing xylitol is good for ear health (mechanical movements with the jaws clean the ear of sulfur, and xylitol fights against infections);
- reduces the risk of allergies, asthma, runny nose.
This versatile and easy-to-obtain sugar substitute is used in a wide variety of applications. Since 1960, it has been successfully used in the food and chemical industries, and is also part of many medications.
Most often, xylitol appears on our tables in the form of the food supplement E967, which in many products acts as a dietary sweetener, stabilizer, emulsifier. But for the yeast test, this sweetener is not suitable, because it reduces the “efficiency” of the yeast. The safety of xylitol is indicated by the fact that the substance is approved for use in 35 countries of the world.
In addition, like another sweetener, sorbitol has antibacterial properties. And it is also actively used in the food industry. For example, xylitol will help keep raw meat fresher for 2 weeks. To do this, it is enough to process the product with a sweet solution.
Chemists resort to the use of xylitol in the creation of resins, esters and some other substances. In pharmacology, this substance can be found in cough syrups and lozenges, chewable vitamins, oral fluids, and toothpastes.
Effect on teeth
Sweet spoils your teeth. With these words, all children “beat off” the craving for sweets. Ah, if the children knew that this rule does not apply to birch sugar! It is believed that in comparison with other sweeteners this one is not harmful to health, and protects teeth from caries and lack of minerals. In addition, xylitol is effective in repairing cracks caused by caries, cleans teeth from plaque, and enhances protection for enamel. And studies have shown that a positive xylitol result for teeth persists for many years. Scientists say: it is enough to consume 6 g of birch sugar daily to prevent tooth decay.
At the end of the last century, Finnish researchers compared the effects of xylitol and sucrose on the teeth and oral cavity. It turned out that xylitol, unlike other sugars, does not cause a fermentation reaction, and not being a source of energy, it does not help the growth of bacteria in the oral cavity. Simply put, with xylitol, bacteria end up on a “hungry rations” and die.
Rescue from harmful fungi
A fungus of the Candida genus, as some scientists say, is infected with almost 80 percent of the world’s population. One of the locations of the harmful manifestation of the fungus is the oral cavity. While other carbohydrate sweets contribute to the growth and rapid growth of Candida, xylitol can prevent or completely stop this process.
Xylitol in combination with antifungal drugs is a component of therapy for the treatment of candidiasis, prevents the spread of the fungus inside the body. Not getting the sugar necessary for life, fungi die.
Xylitol has the same level of sweetness as sugar, but calories contain more than 30 percent less than glucose (in 1 teaspoon of xylitol – 9,6 calories). Another feature of the chemical composition of the substance is that it contains no ineffective carbohydrates. These characteristics make xylitol an excellent tool for diet food, weight loss programs. Dietary sugar is perfectly combined with any kind of product, and allows sweet tooth without pain, almost imperceptibly cut calories.
A sharp increase in blood sugar after the use of xylitol is impossible, since the absorption of the sweet substitute is slower than the absorption of edible sugar. If we compare the glycemic index of edible sugar and xylitol, we get the proportion of 100 to 7. And this is a significant plus in favor of birch sweets. This feature makes xylitol a suitable sugar for people with metabolic disorders, diabetics, hypertensive patients.
Natural xylitol, as already noted, is present in almost all plants containing fiber. This substance is found in berries, fruits, many vegetables, cereals and mushrooms.
Considerable xylitic reserves are also found in corn husks, birch bark and sugar cane.
Industrial xylitol is most often a product obtained from ears of corn or raw materials from processed leafy trees. By the way, China is the largest exporter of this sweetener.
In food, xylitol is found in baked goods, desserts, diabetic sweets, fruit juices, sausages, chewing gums.
The natural sweetener xylitol, although it has a reduced calorie content, cannot be consumed in unlimited doses. Of course, this substance will not give any toxic effect, but it can cause minor troubles. Scientists do not recommend consuming more than 50 g of sweet powder per day. This is explained by the fact that a dose of 30 g and higher irritates the digestive system. As a result, indigestion may occur. In some individuals, bladder swelling is possible against the background of xylitol abuse.
Birch sugar as a medicine
In addition, xylitol can be used as a medication. To obtain a laxative effect, it is necessary to drink the maximum allowed portion of the substance (50 g) on an empty stomach, preferably with warm tea.
Is there a need to stimulate the elimination of excess bile? About 20 g of xylitol diluted in warm tea or water will help.
The role of the antiketogenic drug will be played by the administration of 20 sugar substitute twice a day (in the morning and in the afternoon).
And with 10 grams of the substance (taken regularly), you can get rid of ENT diseases.
It is also worth recalling xylitol in obesity, biliary dyskinesia, cholecystitis, diabetes mellitus and caries. The use of birch sugar in these diseases will be very useful. You can also increase the consumption of the substance for diseases of the throat and ears.
People prone to diarrhea, with colitis and diseases of the digestive system, should not abuse xylitol.
The food industry offers many sugar substitutes. Sorbitol, saccharin, aspartame, maltitol and many others. It is logical that among this sweet abundance, a person tries to choose what is better, more useful, more natural. And xylitol is still the best in many respects – a natural substance without side effects.