As we all know, one of the most common advices we hear for oral hygiene and decay prevention is to avoid sugar and corn syrup, since they are directly correlated to bacterial growth and in turn cavities. Of course, using artificial sweeteners is an option, but a lot of people aren’t fond of the bitter aftertaste that sweeteners such as aspartame have. What if there was a natural sugar that tasted just like the regular stuff, and did not only minimize bacterial growth, but could actually prevent it?, sounds too good to be true, but that’s exactly what Xylitol is.
Usually extracted from corncobs, Xylitol tastes just like regular sugar, but unlike the later, it’s a carbohydrate that only provides 2.4 calories per gram, with is 40% less than any other carbohydrate. Interestingly this sweetener is metabolized with insulin, so it’s perfectly safe for diabetics and pre-diabetics.
But what actually makes this sweetener even more impressive is the fact that it prevents bacterial growth!, one might think that it would work just like other artificial sweeteners, but longitudinal studies have shown that subjects who consumed Xylitol had a tooth decay reduction of almost 75% in comparison to subjects who ate artificial sweeteners (65%) and control groups (who didn’t change their diet). In a study conducted in Finland researchers discovered that subjects who ate Xylitol sweetened bubblegum after every meal showed similar results, what that means is that you can actually prevent cavities and tooth decay but just chewing some gum, or eating a piece of candy after a meal, talk about things one would never expect.
Before you throw your food to the dumpsters to replace with Xylitol, keep a few things in mind, first, when you start eating Xylitol based foods its quite common to have gas and, in worse case scenarios, diarrhea. Don’t fret, it’s temporary as your body adjusts; for most people, the symptons subside in a few days. Second, while there is empirical evidence that you can consume up to a 100 grams of Xylitol daily without adverse effects, most healthcare professionals recommend a 15 grams daily diet in 3 to 5 ingestions, that is, about one tablespoon in every meal.
Lastly, when you buy Xylitol candy or bubblegum make sure that it doesn’t have any other kind of sweeteners, Xylitol mixed with regular sugar loses a lot of it effectiveness, especially since most products have a higher concentration of sugar or corn syrup. Finally, keep Xylitol away from your pets, it has been proved that Xylitol can be poisonous to small dogs. Aside from that, changing your diet to include Xylitol is a great way to improve your oral hygiene and to help with your weight.