Xylitol is a naturally occuring crystalline found in nature, and it has been studied for the last 40 years, including Xylitol interventions with children studies, as an alternative to conventional sugar because it provides the sweet taste without increasing the risk of getting cavities on your teeth. Again, it is found naturally in fruits, vegetables, berries. When xylitol candies are made, xylitol is added from Xylan-rich plant materials, like birch and beechwood.
Most sweeteners have a lower Glycemic Index, and are generally lower in calories, but that is where the similarities between them and xylitol end. Unlike other sweeteners on the market, xylitol has added health benefits like decreasing acid production in the mouth by up to 90%. It helps prevent bacteria from adhering to the tooth surface, thus reducing the sticky plaque on your teeth. It also helps feed friendly microbes that are good for your mouth and your digestive system.
Consuming anything in excess is generally not a good idea, including sugar. When sugar breaks down after eating, it interacts with the naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth. This lowers the pH balance and creates an unhealthy amount of harmful acid; this acid in turn softens and eats away the cavity-resisting enamel layer of the teeth. Typically after conventional sugar is ingested, it spikes your blood sugar level rapidly, but xylitol does not. Sugar is also high in calories that has contributed to health problems such as weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Yikes!!!
I know what you’re thinking… what's the catch? Well, you are right, consuming too much of anything is not a good idea. If you eat a whole bag of xylitol candies in a day, you may experience some gas, bloating, and other intestinal discomforts. But again, the same can be said for consuming too much of any food product. Too much ice cream can cause tummy upset or lactose problems, and too much red meats can lead to heart disease or gout. The point is to consume everything in moderation, and the health benefits of xylitol far outweigh the downsides! Remember to snack responsibly :)
Making a lifestyle change can be hard. If you are not ready to commit right away, think about making a small change. It’s like going to the gym! You could, for instance, start chewing xylitol gum. Doing this especially after meals can help remove unwanted food debris from the mouth. The chewing of sugarless gum increases salivary flow, which carries calcium and phosphates throughout the mouth, helping to strengthen teeth. It also helps raise the pH level in the mouth that lowers the chance if you have eaten any starchy foods like rice or bread.
Making one small switch can have a big impact on oral health. So, make your mouth happy and choose Xylitol!